EFDA Newsletter (EN): Your country officially joined ITER P1 negotiation meeting in Vienna, Austria, on June 19 and plans to join the ITER project as a partner. How long has Korea been working on this decision and has the last push been influenced by China and the US recently joining?

Jung-Hoon Han (JHH): Actually we started in 1999, when the Chairman of our research council, Mr. Chae Young-Bok first visited the European Union to be informed about the European fusion programme. The collaboration with the ITER partners was an essential part of the success of the KSTAR project. The last push towards ITER was indeed caused by China and the US. Our country is close to China and since World War II we have had a strong relationship with the US, so I agree that our decision was strongly influenced by the Chinese and the US move.

EN: China needs fusion urgently as a future energy source. What role does fusion play in Korea?

JHH: Korea has not such a high energy demand as China with its large population. About 40% of our electricity is generated in nuclear power plants. To reduce CO2 in the long run we have to find an alternative to the use of fossil fuels. Therefore we view fusion as a future generation of electricity producing power plant, replacing or upgrading the existing atomic energy resources one day. From the current point of view it’s a very logical step.

EN: The Korea Basic Science Institute (KBSI) was established in 1988. It is leading the national fusion R&D programme which designed and constructed the superconducting tokamak KSTAR. What is the history of fusion in your country?

JHH: Actually we started in the 1970s with Basic Plasma and Fusion Research at University level; in the 80s and 90s we constructed small-scale fusion research devices like the Snut-79 Tokamak at Seoul National University, KT-1 Tokamak at KAERI and the KAIST Tokamak and the HANBIT Plasma Research Facility at the Korean Basic Science Institute, KBSI, at Daejeon. This institute was established in August 1988 as the first national centre to house various user facilities and to carry out basic science research. KBSI is leading the national fusion R&D programme which is responsible for design and construction of the superconducting tokamak KSTAR. The experience gained during the construction and the operation of KSTAR as an international project and, bearing in mind that it is one of the first tokamaks with superconducting toroidal field and poloidal field coils, could be very valuable and represent an important contribution of South Korea to ITER.

EN: Several industrial firms like Hyundai and Poscon are already involved in the KSTAR project. Is Korean industry well prepared to take part in the ITER project? What main contributions could they provide?

JHH: I have noticed that they have a strong will to join the ITER project. In our country, industry has a relatively short history compared to the European Union, but a good tradition of hard working people. I think, based on the present development level, Korean industry could do some of the conventional parts of ITER.

EN: Since June 1996 Korea has had a Cooperation Agreement with the US at government level in the area of Fusion Energy Research and related fields. Does your government plan agreements of similar nature also with the EU?

JHH: Yes, actually we are in the process of preparing such an agreement. It has been discussed since 2000 and a Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Korea in the field of fusion has already been drafted. I think this bilateral agreement could be signed by this year or by March next year at the latest.

Interview: D. Lutz-Lanzinger

Dr. Jung-Hoon Han is presently heading the International Cooperation Unit at the Korea Basic Science Institute in Daejeon, Korea.

KSTAR (Korean Superconducting Tokamak Reactor) is a long pulse, superconducting tokamak being designed to explore advanced tokamak regimes under steady state conditions.


Major Radius:
1.8 m

Minor Radius:
0.5 m

Plasma Current:
2.0 MA

Pulse Length:
20 sec < t pulse < 300 sec

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