Korea relies on nuclear energy for about 30 percent of its electricity needs, supplied by 23 active nuclear reactors. The government aims to increase that share to 40 percent by 2040.
Nuclear technology in Korea has been an integral part of the country’s socio-economic development over the past decades, and its evolution from an importer to a potential exporter of nuclear plants and nuclear technologies provides spin-offs to technological innovation as well as to the environmental benefits in terms of avoiding GHG and other pollution in the context of achieving sustainable development.
Nuclear activities in Korea were initiated in 1957 when Korea became a member of the IAEA. In 1959, the Office of Atomic Energy was established as a government organization in conformity with the global trend toward developing peaceful uses of atomic energy. The Atomic Energy Law was promulgated in the preceding year. The first nuclear reactor to achieve criticality in Korea was a small research unit in 1962.
Korea has carried out a very ambitious nuclear power program since the 1970’s in parallel with the nation’s industrialization policy, and has maintained a strong commitment to nuclear power development as an integral part of the national energy policy aimed at reducing external vulnerability and insuring against global fossil fuel shortage.
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