Named one of the 12 new growth engines of Korea in 2017, the Korean drone industry and related service sectors are expected to grow to USD 1 billion by 2020 and USD 3 billion by 2025.
In December 2016, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced that Korea would invest a total of KRW 500 billion (USD 428 million) within the next three years as a part of its plans to promote one of the 12 emerging industries. The government also expanded tax incentives on drone R&D projects and established a test bed for drone technology in regions like Daegu and Gangwon Province. The following are some of the regions that are actively promoting the growth of Korea’s drone industry.
Located in one of the southernmost
areas of South Korea, Goheung County is
a seaside area dotted with hundreds of
mostly uninhabited islands. Originally a
fishing county, Goheung has recently
begun garnering attention for the development
of its aerospace and drone industry,
first marked in 2008 with the establishment
of the Naro Space Center.
The space center's integrated facilities, including a launch pad, a control tower, rocket assembly and test facilities, satellite control testing and assembly facilities, an electric power station, a space experience hall (visitor center) and a landing field, have since doubled as a base for drones.
In October 2015, Goheung County was selected as the only regulation-free zone for drones thanks to its vast, unobstructed land and airspace ideal for flying unmanned vehicles. The county, in cooperation with the South Jeolla Province also proposed a KRW 235.2 billion (USD 206 million) budget
for six drone-related projects: the operation of a drone academy, the establishment of an exhibition site, demonstration for pesticide drones, inspection of any vulnerabilities, operation of a promotional center and the planning and implementation of public pilot projects.
Gangwon Province is located northeast
of Korea, dominated by the Taebaek
Mountain Range. The region is reputed
for its agricultural produce, mineral
resources as well as its winter tourism.
Running along the Taebaek is Yeongwol County, a remote, snowy area difficult to reach on foot. However, its isolated location and size makes the county an ideal spot to test search and-rescue and transportation drones. Drones will also be commissioned to use during dangerous sites during fires or factories. 15 organizations and companies, including Korea Forest Service, Korea Air, CJ Korea Express, KT and Korea Aerospace University, are already in the process of conducting pilot projects in the area.
In 2015, Daegu was chosen for the
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone) Safety
Verification and Test Project. The only
metropolitan city in Korea to simultaneously
develop the drone industry, drone
R&D and drone testing activities, Daegu
has been at the forefront of the Korean
Dalseong County, a largely rural area located in southwestern Daegu, has since been chosen as the drone test site in Daegu. The county is currently undergoing efforts to build infrastructure for drone-related industries with the help with local universities and research institutes.
The historic capital of the North Jeolla
Province is branching out from its cultural
tourism industry to drones. Jeonju was
designated as a drone testing site and is
set to establish special areas for drones by
the end of the this year.
The city is currently working with the Korea Land and Geospatial InformatiX Corporation (LX), Hojung Solution, SOKKIA and Sungjin Aero to conduct land surveys and test for facility safety. Wansan Park will be at the center of Jeonju's drone activities-high-altitude flights, long distance flights and night flights will be tested in the area. The city also plans on establishing administration, research and education centers for drones. Drones will also be used to develop virtual tourism to further promote Jeonju's booming tourism industry.
The North Chungcheong Province is
the only landlocked area in South Korea.
Located in the center of Korea, it is
arguably the most accessible province in
the country. North Chungcheong is also a
free economic zone, which focuses on
biotechnological, pharmaceutical and
medical research, airplane manufacturing
and maintenance and ecofriendly economic
Originally dedicated to eco-friendly agricultural projects, Boeun is making steps towards new growth engines as a test-bed for the drone industry. In addition to the carefully-considered geographical advantages of the drone pilot project sites, South Korea plans to establish drone flight test centers equipped with a control room and a runway for the three sites and is also considering a special operation permit for nighttime drone flights.