Dec. 27 (UPI) -- South Korea is expanding on free economic zones to attract foreign investment and develop technology infrastructure for the smart cities of tomorrow, according to reports.
South Korea's ministry of trade, industry and energy designated three cities, Gwangju, Ulsan and Siheung, as the sites of the new free economic zones, or KFEZ, Yonhap reported Friday.
Free economic zones in Korea often include tax incentives for foreign companies and foreigners; they aim to promote balanced regional development in a country where at least a quarter of the population lives in the Seoul metropolitan area.
On Friday the ministry agreed to build new industrial zones in Gwangju, including a district for "future car" manufacturing. The government is also planning an "artificial intelligence-centered industrial convergence complex" in the city.
In Ulsan, a major shipbuilding hub, the government will support the construction of various industrial and business parks. The city could possibly host manufacturers of car parts for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, according to Newsis.
Siheung city's Baegot New Town, not far from Incheon International Airport, is a candidate for an aerial drone-manufacturing cluster.
The new economic zones are expected to lead to a $16 billion boost in domestic production, in addition to nearly $7 billion in foreign and domestic investments. Seoul also said the new sites could provide jobs for about 128,000 people.
South Korea is also reviewing other candidate sites, including the Yeongjong International City district that surrounds Incheon airport. The area is already the location of a casino, hotels and other amenities for tourists.
Seoul's goal is to increase the number of tourist visits to 20 million annually.