The South Korean government plans to digitize thousands of historic cadastral maps of the North for use in infrastructure and the establishment and operation of “efficient” land policy following unification, a proposal seen by NK News and released last week shows.
The ROK’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) has allocated KRW972 million (USD $875,754) to the project, and is seeking non-governmental partners to conduct the work.
The work will involve the digitizing of more than 10,590 original drawings from cadastral surveys of the North and the establishment of an online database with a deadline of late November.
The National Archives of Korea (NAK) possesses around 780,000 original cadastral maps of the two Koreas, which shows the boundaries and ownership of land.
The maps were the work of the then-Imperial Japanese authorities, who conducted cadastral and land surveys (朝鮮土地調査事業) of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1918.
Some of the original drawings include the name of landowners, according to the official website of the NAK.
The MOLIT said the purpose of the digitizing project would be to “obtain geographical information proactively to efficiently establish and operate land policy in the North Korean regions after the unification.”
“By establishing a DB (database) of the original drawings of cadastral maps of North Korea, it can build up the foundation for geographic information infrastructure and support the construction of integrated spatial information system,” the proposal reads.
Through the project, Seoul plans to “provide land information necessary for a variety of unification policies including the reconstruction and restoration of SOC (social overhead capital), cities, housing and the environment in preparation for unification.”
South Korean institutes dealing with North Korea policy will reportedly be able to utilize the system for a range of purposes, including forestry, environmental conservation, and the management of cultural properties.
In the proposal, the ministry said the digitized maps would be able to be used as “basic data for policy making including a master plan for land development of the Korean peninsula.”
The proposal’s release comes as the two Koreas have stepped up cooperation on the connection, modernization, and utilization of railways and roads on the eastern and western coast of the peninsula, as part of follow-up measures to April’s Panmunjom Declaration.
The digitized cadastral maps, MOLIT’s proposal adds, could also be used as reference materials in the event of land disputes post-unification.
The ministry said maps produced by Imperial Japan were crucial, as it is unclear whether any cadastral surveys of the North have been carried out since the division of the peninsula.
The original maps are also very first cadastral surveys of the entire Korean peninsula, it added.
Seoul had previously allowed government-run agencies to access historic maps of the North, though such information has only been publicly available since March 2014.
The National Geographic Information Institute (NGII) under the MOLIT previously released a book between 2007 and 2009 including information on the North’s topography, as well as satellite imagery and digital maps.
The book showed the then-current state of North Korean territory and the recent development of urban buildings, roads, and railways.
Seoul has already completed the process of digitizing the original cadastral maps of the ROK territory and opening them to the public: last December saw the NAK release around 14,700,000 digitized maps of the country.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
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Featured Image: DSCN0133 by nknews_hq on 2016-07-03 11:42:33