South Korea

South Korea currently has 18 reactors operating supplying 39% of the country’s electricity World Nuclear Association (2003). The reactors operating are PWRs and PHWRs. The first three units were purchased as turnkey projects; later plants involved local manufacturers. There were various vendors, Combustion Engineering (US), Framatome (France) and AECL (Canada).

In the mid-1980s, Korea embarked on a 10-year plan to standardise the design of its nuclear power plants via a collaboration with Combustion Engineering (now Westing — house). The exception to this plan was the building of three more AECL CANDU 6 units to add to the earlier Wolsong power plant.

The CE System 80 design was chosen as the standardised design and this evolved into the Korean Standard Nuclear Plant (KSNP) design. In addition to CE System 80 features, it also included many US advanced light-water design requirements. All further 1000 MWe units were of this type. In the late 1990s, an improved KSNP + programme was started. There are 6 such KSNP or KSNP + units under construction or on order, Ulchin 5 & 6, Shin Kori 1 & 2, and Shin Wolsong 5 & 6. These are scheduled to start up at various times between 2004 and 2010.

The advanced pressurised reactor (APR)-1400 is a further extension drawing on CE System 80 + design features. The System 80 + was chosen because it has USNRC design certification. The design for APR-1400 was completed in 1999 with enhanced safety and a design life of 60 years. The units scheduled are Shin Kori 3 & 4 and 2 units near Ulchin; these are not scheduled for start-up until 2010-2015. By 2015, nuclear power is expected to supply 45% of requirement (Table 9.5).

Fuel cycle facilities exist within the Korea Atomic Research Institute (KAERI) and the Korea Nuclear Fuel Company (KNFC) to supply PWR and PHWR fuel from uranium imported from Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

A revised waste-management programme came into being in 1998. Spent fuel is stored on the reactor site. The intention is to build a centralised storage facility by 2016. The long-term solution for high-level waste is deep geological disposal. Low — and intermediate-wastes are also stored on the reactor site. For this waste, a central repository is envisaged from 2008. This will allow shallow geological disposal of such waste.


Reactor type

Capacity (MWe)

Start up

Ulchin 5 & 6




Shin Kori 1 & 2




Shin Wolsong 5 & 6




Shin Kori 3 & 4




2 units near Ulchin




World Nuclear Association (2003).

Vitrification is also planned from 2006. In 2003, four sites were selected for detailed examination.

In the longer term, there are various plans for extending nuclear-related opportunities. Plans include the development of liquid metal reactors, the direct use of spent PWR in CANDU reactors (the DUPIC process) and utilisation of research reactors. The HANARO 30 MW research reactor started up in 1995. South Korea is participating in the US Generation IV programme.

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