Dramatic Coastline Changes Around Korea’s Main Airport

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea

Note: My family last year relocated to Seoul, where my wife is working as a foreign correspondent for NPR. This post is the first in an occasional series profiling the peninsula’s demographics and politics.

When we travel to and from South Korea, we’re often forced to trek out to Incheon International Airport (this country’s Dulles). The massive airport, located on an island about an hour west of Seoul, opened in 2001 and is now one of the largest and busiest in the world.

I had no idea, until today, how dramatically the shoreline around the airport has changed in the last three decades. Previously separated islands along the Yellow Sea coast were joined together as reclaimed land. The airport is now connected to the metropolis by the Incheon Grand Bridge, which opened in 2009.

For context, here’s a current Google Map showing the region:

incheon-google

Now check out how much the land area has changed and the urban growth has expanded, as depicted by these Landsat images acquired in 1981 and again in 2013. The Landsat archive contains 40 years of data, allowing users to see changes (like those in my former home, Washington, D.C.) to the Earth’s landscape. Check it out.

Here’s a before/after view of the airport:

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incheon_then

incheon_now

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