Korean Polar Research Institute (KOPRI)

Photo: Korean Polar Research Institute

About the Republic of Korea’s National Antarctic Program

COMNAP Representative (MNAP): Sung-Ho Kang, President, KOPRI
(DMNAP): Hyoung-Geun Lee​, Operations Manager

The Republic of Korea’s polar research history began in March 1987 when the polar research center was opened at the Korea Ocean Research & Development institute (KORDI) and the Korean National Committee on Antarctic Research (KONCAR) was founded in August that same year. Then, the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI) was created as part of KORDI and it has been the operator of Korea’s national polar program since 1987, being a government sponsored research institute dedicated to polar science and logistic support which was established to contribute to the development of national science and technology capacities and to advance knowledge for the benefit of all mankind by undertaking world-class scientific research programs in cooperation with national and international partners.

KOPRI is the lead agency for conducting polar scientific research and operating the research infrastructure, such as King Sejong Station and Jang Bogo Station (currently under construction and will be completed in early 2014). KOPRI is also in charge of the icebreaking research vessel Araon, advises the Korean government on polar affairs and organises public outreach programs. KOPRI has been an active participant in various international organisations and fora such as the ATCM, CCAMLR, SCAR and COMNAP.

The King Sejong Antarctic station is located in King George Island, in the Antarctic peninsula. The station has been in operation as a year-round research platform since its inauguration in 1988. Araon is Korea’s first icebreaking research vessel. Her name “ARAON” is an original Korean word that combines “ARA,” which means “sea,” and “ON,” which means “all,” in the archaic Korean language. As her name suggests, Araon signifies a will to be a platform for unhindered expedition all over the oceans around the globe. The primary mission of Araon is to supply logistics to King Sejong and Jang Bogo Stations and to conduct scientific research in worldwide oceans, including both polar areas. To perform world-class scientific activities, the research vessel is installed with state-of-the-art scientific equipment. Araon is committed to operate logistics and research activities for nearly 300 days a year including surveys in Arctic and Antarctic waters, and assistance with the construction of the second Korean station on the Antarctic continent as well. Take a virtual tour of Araon here: http://www.kopri.re.kr/araon/.

The Jang Bogo station at Terra Nova Bay was inaugurated on 12 February, 2014. The station is operated year-round with up to 60 people in the summer and approximately 20 in winter. This station is operated as a continent-oriented research station in the field of meteorology & atmospheric chemistry, upper atmosphere physics, glaciology, geodesy and long-term marine monitoring. Take a virtual tour of Jang Bogo Station, Antarctica, here: http://www.kopri.re.kr/jbs/​.


Korea’s polar research history began in 1987 when Polar Research Center was opened at the Korea Ocean Research & Development institute (KORDI) to initiate Antarctic research program and station construction. Some important milestones in our history:

Nov. 1986 Acceded to the Antarctic Treaty as the 33rd signatory.

Mar. 1987 The Polar Research Laboratory was established at KORDI.

Aug. 1987 The Korean National Committee on Antarctic Research (KONCAR) was founded.

Feb. 1988 King Sejong Station was inaugurated in the Antarctic (King George Island).

Oct. 1989 Korea joined the Antarctic Treaty as a Consultative Party.

Jul. 1990 The Polar Research Laboratory was expanded renamed as the Polar Research Center; Korea acceded to SCAR as a regular member.

May 1995 The 19th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) was held in Seoul, Korea.

Oct. 2001 The Korean Arctic Science Council (KASCO) was formed.

Jun. 2002 The Korean National Committee on Polar Research (KONPOR), combining KONCAR and KASCO, was formed.

Jul. 2002 The Polar Research Center was renamed as the Polar Sciences Laboratory.

Sep. 2003 The Polar Sciences Laboratory was expanded to the Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI), KORDI.

Apr. 2004 KOPRI was re-established as an affiliated research institute to KORDI.

Mar. 2006 KOPRI moved from Ansan city into Songdo Techno Park, Incheon Free Economic Zone, Korea.

Oct. 2009 Korea’s first ice-breaking research vessel ARAON was delivered to KOPRI.

Mar. 2010 The site for Jang Bogo Antarctic Research Research Station was determined to be in Terra Nova Bay.

Jul. 2010 Korea’s first icebreaking research vessel ARAON finished her first Arctic Cruise

Dec. 2012 The construction of Jang Bogo Antarctic research station started.

Apr. 2013 KOPRI’s new campus in Incheon completed and opened.

Feb. 2014 Jang Bogo Station in augurated.

Our Science Program

In 1988 the first Antarctic field survey by the Korean Antarctic Research Program took place. KOPRI pursues Antarctic research in four core areas: 1) Polar Climate Change and its Impact on Ecosystems, 2) Biodiversity and Adaptation of Polar Organisms, 3) Study on the Tectonic Structures and Their Activities in Antarctica and 4) New Emerging Science in Antarctica: Meteorite expedition, Ice Core Drilling to restore paleoclimate changes.

In 1990, the Polar Research Laboratory was expanded to the Polar Research Center, and Korea acceded to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) as a regular member.

The Asian Forum for Polar Sciences (AFOPS) started in 2004 and KOPRI provided the initial momentum. The AFOPS aim is to provide a foundation for cooperative research activities, presenting Asian achievements toward international polar communities and encouraging the involvement of nonpolar Asian countries in polar research. Korea served as the first chair of AFOPS for two years.

In addition to its own research, KOPRI runs a variety of joint programs to promote the participation of investigators from domestic universities and other research institutes to Antarctic science and outreach programs to raise awareness particularly among the young generation through various outreach programs such as “Pole-to-Pole Korea”. This program provides an annual opportunity for the general public to experience the Korean Arctic and Antarctic Stations with a view to increase awareness and interests about global environmental changes and to foster a science-minded culture. Since its launch in 2005, the program has recruited secondary & tertiary students, science teachers and artists for the Antarctic and Arctic field experience.

Our Contact Details​


Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI)
26, Songdomirae-ro
Incheon, Korea

Phone: +82 (0)32 770 8431
Fax: +82 (0)32 770 8439