This study analyses the conflict around the building of the Samcheok nuclear power plant in terms of residential acceptability. The case is divided into four stages: the beginning of conflict, the spread of conflict, reconciliation, and the concealment of conflict. Changes in residential acceptability are examined through qualitative analysis. The case analysis sorts residential acceptability by three factors: recognition of risks, economic benefit, and reliability of government agencies. The analysis results reveal residential acceptability to be high due to the low recognition of risks and high expectation of economic benefit. In other stages, however, residential acceptability is low due to high recognition of risk, low expectation of economic benefit, and the low reliability of central government and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP).
The policy implications arising from the analysis can be summarized as follows. First, government agencies need to increase reliability towards local residents to secure residential acceptability. Second, there is a need for consensus building processes when it comes to providing objective and balanced information on building nuclear power plants. An excessive emphasis on economic benefit in public relations may decrease the recognition of risks in the short run, but in the long run, may harm local residents’ perspective on the reliability of government and the KHNP. Third, when building future nuclear power plants, the participation of local residents is key and referendums should be mandatory from the first stage of applying to the city municipal office.