Country profile: Korea

Summary figures for 2017

The following information is from the NEA publication Nuclear Energy Data, the annual compilation of official statistics and country reports on nuclear energy in OECD member countries.

Country Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid Nuclear electricity generation (net TWh) Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Korea 24 141.3 25.5
OECD Pacific64170.69.0
OECD Total3111 856.817.6
NEA Total3522 062.617.9

Country report

Nuclear policy on energy transition

An energy transition policy was announced in October 2017, outlining a long-term fading out of nuclear power. The new policy also stipulates that coal power plants over 30 years of age should be shut down and that the share of renewable energy should be expanded to 20% of total electricity generation by 2030.

The ongoing construction of Shin-Kori units 5 and 6 was highlighted during the public debate on nuclear energy in 2017. In July, the government launched an ad hoc committee to gather public opinions on the fate of the NPP construction projects that are already 30% complete. After three months of committee activities, including surveying public opinions and selecting citizen jurors, the committee made the recommendation to the government to resume the construction of Shin-Kori 5 and 6. Four hundred and seventy-one civilian jurors voted and 59.5% supported resuming construction while 40.5% opposed it.

Korea nevertheless maintains activities to further international collaboration in order to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The government actively supports the transfer of Korea's technology to other countries in accordance with the global non-proliferation framework. The exportation of nuclear technology covers advanced power reactors, small modular reactors (SMRs) and diverse applications.

Nuclear power plant status

The total number of power plants in operation in Korea has reached 24, with an installed capacity of 22.5 GWe, accounting for 30.3% of the country's total generating capacity in 2017. Five nuclear power plants are currently under construction, and the earliest grid connection of Shin-Kori unit 4 is expected to occur in September 2018.

The first nuclear power plant in Korea, the 580 megawatt Kori unit 1, was permanently shut down in June 2017. It began commercial operation in April 1978, and its first life extension was approved in 2007.

Nuclear safety and regulation

Coinciding with the permanent shutdown of Kori unit 1 in June 2017, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) developed regulatory guides for safety reviews and inspections, and prepared regulations for decommissioning preparation activities during transition periods.

As a follow-up action from the earthquake in Gyeong-ju in 2016, 23 anti-seismic measures, including the enhancement of the earthquake response system, were established. A total of 10 measures have been completed and 13 more will be carried out by 2021.

In response to concerns over the high regional density of NPPs, the NSSC is making an effort to enhance the response capability for simultaneous accidents at multiple units through a probabilistic approach. A multi-unit probabilistic risk assessment (PSA) R&D programme for the development of a regulatory framework for on-site risk was also launched.

Radioactive waste management

As a follow-up to the Basic Plan for Low-and-Intermediate Level Radioactive Waste (LILW) Management and the Basic Plan for High-Level Radioactive Waste (HLW) Management, which were established in 2015 and in 2016 respectively by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE), a mid- and long-term strategic plan for R&D on radioactive waste management was set up in February 2017 in order to develop the technologies required to carry out radioactive waste management projects.

Since the first LILW disposal facility started its operation in 2015, approximately 19 624 drums (200 litres in size) have been accepted and about 12 457 drums have been disposed of.

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2018