Friday, December 11, 2009

World Wetland Network's Letter on the 4 Rivers Project of Korea

11th December 2009

Dear President Lee Myung-Bak, Mr. Prime Minister Mr. Chung Un-chan, Chung Jong-hwan, Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, and Mr. Lee Maanee, Minister of the Environment,

Re: Four Rivers Project, Republic of Korea (ROK)

The World Wetland Network (WWN), established at the Ramsar COP10 in Changwon, is a rapidly growing network of over 200 wetland Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) from across the world. A central committee of representatives from each continent, plus technical advisors, meets on a regular basis to plan, feedback and exchange information.

As a global network of wetland specialists, the WWN would like to advise the ROK government to cancel the Four Rivers Project.

In Europe, the US and Japan, there were numerous river engineering projects in past decades which included straightening river channels, dredging river beds, putting in built water management structures and re-enforcing banks. The world has since learnt from these mistakes. Disconnecting rivers from their flood plains, straightening and deepening them has led to huge problems with floods, erosion, poor water quality, changing ecological systems and reduced biodiversity, not to mention disconnecting local communities from their rivers. This of course also has an economic and human cost.

While the Four Rivers project in the ROK has been described as a ‘restoration’ project by its proponents, it is clear to the WWN and to all wetland experts around the world that the construction of new dams and river dredging cannot be called restoration. Further, the construction of bicycle trails and resort areas proposed as part of the Four Rivers project will increase disturbance to sensitive species and systems. As proposed, the Four Rivers project will lead to a massive loss of biodiversity and cause enormous environmental costs, some of which will be immediate, and others which will emerge longer-term as the rivers and watersheds can no longer function in a natural way.

The Four Rivers project, with its emphasis on construction is clearly contrary to the wise use principle that Ramsar promotes, and ignores existing Ramsar guidance on wetland restoration and management, environmental impact, and community involvement (e.g. resolution X.19: Wetlands and River Basin Management; VIII.16: Principles and guidelines for wetland restoration; resolution X.17: Environmental Impact Assessments; and resolution VII.8: Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands). In addition, it is clearly “unsustainable development” that will prevent the ROK from fulfilling its obligations to numerous international agreements, including Ramsar, the Millennium Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity .

In contrast to the ROK Four Rivers project, in Europe, the Water Framework Directive is reversing these types of hard-engineering works, at great expense, to revert to a more naturally functioning, catchment-based approach. All member nations of the European Union have implemented the Water Framework Directive into their national policies. In the US, water companies now manage catchments to improve water quality, regulate flow naturally, and reduce the risk of flood. The WWN is happy to provide this information to decision-makers in the ROK, in order to assist the nation in its moves towards wetland conservation and wise use.

We therefore strongly urge the ROK to reconsider the Four Rivers Project. It is not too late to stop the destructive works, and to value your river systems as the natural treasures and providers that they are. It is not only in the interest of the ROK to do so, but also in the interest of all the nations of the East Asian - Australasian Flyway, and of all contracting parties to the Ramsar Convention.


Chris Rostron, Chair of WWN
Melissa Marin, Neotropics Representative, WWN
Esteban Biamonte, Secretary, WWN
Peter Lengyel, Europe Representative, WWN
Baboucarr Mbye, Africa Representative, WWN
Cassie Price, Oceania Representative, WWN
Tsuji Atsuo, Asia Representative, WWN
Becky Abel, North America Representative, WWN
Kashiwagi Minoru, Technical Advisor, WWN
Luc Hoogenstein, Technical Advisor, WWN

Friday, November 13, 2009

Opposition parties’ lawmakers ramp up to defeat Four Rivers Restoration Project budget

DLP Lawmaker Woo Wi-yeong calls it the worst civil engineering project ever, and DP lawmakers prepare legal actions to suspend construction

The Hankyoreh Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

Opposition parties’ lawmakers, who have been demanding the termination of the “Four Rivers Restoration Project” that the Lee administration announced will begin Tuesday, are calling the project a dictatorial scam and have launched a full-scale campaign to suspend construction, including filing for an injunction. Moreover, opponents to the Four Rivers Restoration Project have agreed on a plan to cut the entire 23 trillion Won budget for the project with the exception of the 1 trillion Won earmarked for water quality improvement.  

Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Chung Sye-kyun slammed the Lee administration during a party supreme council meeting Monday, and said he was enraged that the administration’s dictatorial behavior was manifesting in pet projects such as this one. He added the administration has questioned why the public refers to it as a “dictatorship,” but the label is fitting when it decides to move forward unilaterally as it is doing now.

Chung said the administration had not conducted a proper feasibility study or a cultural properties study, and it conducted a slap-dash environmental impact assessment on the 634-kilometer area, completing it in just four months with unconvincing findings. He also said that the parliamentary screening of the budget put fourth by the administration has yet to begin, and that it is intorelable that the administration has commenced construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project based on the assumption that the National Assembly will be passing the budget bill in its original form.

The DP is also actively considering filing an administrative suit or applying for a provisional disposition to suspend the project, which is suspected of being the “Grand Canal” project in disguise. During the party’s supreme council discussion on the Four Rivers Restoration Project, Lawmaker Park Ju-seon provided the argument that it violates the National Finance Law, the Rivers Law, the Basic Law on Environmental Policy and the Korea Water Resources Corporation Law.

The DP is also warning of a “budget struggle” in an attempt to cut the Four Rivers Restoration Project budget. An official connected to the party’s parliamentary leadership said the DP’s position is that it cannot allow the 23 trillion Won earmarked for the project, with the exception of the 1 trillion Won for flood damage and water quality improvement.

In a statement Monday, Woo Wi-yeong, spokesperson for the Democratic Labor Party, called the Four Rivers Restoration Project the worst civil engineering project since the time of Dangun, as well as the greatest scam. He said the arrogance and go-it-alone tendencies of the administration that is pushing forward with project construction, regards the project as an established fact, and believes it can hush up any further debate on the matter has come to a dangerous place.

We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

[Editorial] We cannot bear the responsibility of allowing the destruction of the four great rivers

The Hankyoreh
Posted on : Nov.10,2009 12:04 KST Modified on : Nov.10,2009 12:06 KST

The Four Rivers Restoration Project begins in earnest today. The construction is to begin immediately, after seemingly waiting for the findings of the Ministry of Environment‘s (MOE) environmental impact assessment. All sorts of concerns about reductions in water quality and destruction of the environment were completely ignored. It appears it is impossible to hope for any more rational discussion with an administration that remains obstinate about pushing the project.

Just imagining the effects of executing the Four Rivers Restoration Project as planned is horrible. Instead of flowing, river water will rot as it is trapped behind dams and weirs, while the wildlife growing on the riverbanks will die under dikes of concrete. Most of the aquatic ecology will be destroyed as river floors are dredged, and it is clear that the terrace land by the four rivers will be suffocated underneath cement as 1,700 kilometers of bicycle routes are built. Indiscriminate developmentalists are mangling our four main rivers, the Han, Nakdong, Guem and the Youngsan, which should be wholly preserved and bequeathed to our descendants.

The greatest responsibility for the Four Rivers Restoration Project coming to this point lays with President Lee Myung-bak. He is using his success with the Cheonggyecheon restoration project accomplished during his time as Seoul mayor to push forward this project. The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon, no more than a neighborhood stream, and the restoration of the four great rivers that feed the lands of southern Korea, are incomparable matters. The aim to complete this project that will cost taxpayers an estimated 20 trillion Won in just two to three years is nothing more than an act of greed intent on achieving a project of scale during his term. The four rivers are about to be destroyed as a result of President Lee’s egoism that stems from ignorance about the environment.

Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs Chung Jong-hwan and Environment Minister Lee Maan-ee will be unable to escape historical responsibility as accessories to the destruction of the four rivers. Chung, who styles himself a “Little MB” to a sickening extent, has been pushing the Four Rivers Restoration Project using all sorts of expedients and illegalities. In particular, Lee, by tacitly approving the environmental destruction caused by the Four Rivers project, has abandoned his role as Environment Minister. He will be recorded as a blot on South Korea’s history of environmental policy.

At any rate, construction for the Four Rivers Restoration Project commences today. It will soon be revealed just how much the four rivers will be destroyed as a result. We cannot just standby and watch it happen. To do so is ultimately no different than participating in the destruction of the four rivers. For this reason, just as the full-scale launch of the Four Rivers Restoration Project takes place today, so must the launch of a full-scale fight to save our four great rivers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

South Korea approved 11 new coastal reclamation projects

The government of South Korea approved 11 new coastal wetlands reclamation projects on November 9th. 1,058,000㎡ of coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands to renewable energy project, shipbuilding industry, port redevelopment, road construction, etc.

As you can see from the table above, some of the public waters and coastal wetlands will be reclaimed to provide lands for private investors and developers such as shipbuilding and energy companies. Because they can possess the land formed by reclaiming public waters and tidal flats, many South Korean companies want to reclaim coastal areas for their own economic benefits.

The natural environment of the Garorim Bay will be affected severely due to the new reclamation project linked to the Garorim Bay Tidal Power Project, especially on tidal flats of 8,000 ha in the bay.

The problem is that such a destructive energy project is promoted by the South Korean government in the name of it's Green Growth National Vision. (

South Korea was the host country of the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands, last year. The Resolution X.22 'Promoting international cooperation for the conservation of waterbird flyways' was adopted at the Ramsar COP10 which states that the Conference of the Contracting Parties "WELCOMES the statement by the Republic of Korea to the 35th meeting of Ramsar’s Standing Committee that intertidal mudflats should be preserved and that no large-scale reclamation projects are now being approved in the Republic of Korea, and ENCOURAGES all Contracting Parties in their efforts to protect such habitats in future and to monitor them and mitigate any past development impacts on or losses to them".

The government of South Korea approved 11 coastal wetland reclamation projects of 8.1㎢ in March this year and approved 11 new reclamation projects of 1.06㎢ again, the day before yesterday. It is hard to believe that South Korean government is following its own statement and the resolutions of the Ramsar Convention.

Such destructive reclamation projects should be stopped in a country with Green Growth National Vision.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Statement of Korean Wetland NGOs Marking the 1 Year After the Ramsar COP10

The Government of South Korea Should Recall the Spirit of the Ramsar Convention and Stop Destruction of Wetlands

One year has passed since the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar COP10) was held in Changwon, South Korea from 28 October to 4 November 2008. The meeting was held successfully with the most participants in the history of the Ramsar convention. Thirty two resolutions were adopted including the Resolution X.3 ‘the Changwon Declaration on human well-being and wetlands’. However, we feel it is very regrettable that many of the resolutions and promises made at the Ramsar COP10 have not yet been implemented and wetlands of South Korea are faced with greater threats.

Mr. Lee Myung-bak, President of South Korea stated that "South Korea will keep increasing the number of Wetland Protection Areas and Ramsar Sites and it will be a model country of the convention" at his speech at the opening ceremony of the Ramsar COP10. Unfortunately, there have been no wetlands added to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance during the year since the Ramsar COP10, even though there are about 60 wetlands which have international conservation values in South Korea. Two wetlands were designated as Wetland Protection Areas on October 1st, but only one of them, the 1100 Highland Wetland in Jeju Island with an area of 0.126㎢ was actually added to protected wetlands in the country. The other had already been listed as a Ramsar Site before the Ramsar COP10.

The 'Changwon Declaration on human well-being and wetlands (Resolution X.3)', which was proposed by the government of South Korea and adopted at the Ramsar COP10 emphasized the conservation and wise use of wetlands, urged decision makers of the world to stop the loss and degradation of wetlands and to maintain their ecological character. But, right after the Ramsar COP10 is over, the government of South Korea proposed the so-called 4 Rivers Restoration Project which poses threats to the conservation of riverine wetlands and natural ecosystem along the rivers by building more than 20 dams on the rivers and dredging 570 million cubic meters of sediment from the rivers.

Resolution X.19 'Wetlands and river basin management: consolidated scientific and technical guidance' asked Contracting Parties to integrate wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management, and Resolution X.24 on 'Climate change and wetlands' asked Contracting Parties to make every effort to consider the maintenance of the ecological character of wetlands in national climate change mitigation and adaptation policies. However, the government of South Korea wants to drive the 4 Rivers Project to cope with the climate change, which threatens conservation of riverine wetlands by greatly affecting the maintenance of the ecological characters of the rivers. It is expected that around 130 riverine wetlands on the National Wetland Inventory compiled by the government of South Korea will be affected by the 4 Rivers Project if it is implemented.

Resolution X.22 'Promoting international cooperation for the conservation of waterbird flyways' noted that migratory shorebirds in the Yellow Sea area are under threat from the loss of tidal flats and pollution, and urged international cooperation and expansion of protected areas for the conservation of these habitats. However, the government of South Korea approved 11 coastal reclamation projects of 8.1㎢ including the reclamation of Songdo Tidal Flat (7.2㎢) in March this year, just 4 months after the Ramsar COP10. Also, the Saemangeum Reclamation Project, the largest tidal flat destroying project in the world, is going ahead while its initial purpose of creating of farmland, was abandoned.

Although the Tidal Flat of Jangbongdo is protected as a Wetland Protection Area and the Tidal Flat of Ganghwado and Breeding Ground of Black-faced Spoonbills is protected as a Natural Monument, both are under threat by the Incheon Bay Tidal Power Project and the Ganghwa Tidal Power Project, respectively. The tidal flat of Garorim Bay is the most well conserved tidal flats in South Korea and is one of the only two habitats of Spotted Seal Phoca largha in the country which is protected as Endangered Species Category Ⅱ designated by the Ministry of Environment of South Korea is also under threat by the proposed Garorim Bay Tidal Power Project.

The Nakdong River Estuary which is one of the most important sites for migratory waterbirds in Korea and is protected as a Natural Monument. It is under threat from a plan to halve its size of the Natural Monument area. It is also threatened by plans to build the Eomgung Bridge and the new international airport both of which will damage its ecological character as an important migratory bird habitat.

There is international concern about the loss and degradation of wetlands in South Korea. Resolution X.13 'The status of sites in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance' recommends that the government of South Korea advise the Ramsar Secretariat of any significant change in the ecological character of those Wetland Protection Areas and Ecosystem Landscape Conservation Areas that are wetlands. The plans to remove the Sin-gok Underwater Weir in the lower part of the Han River and to build a new one 14 kilometres downstream along with the Gyeongin Canal (Gyeongin Waterway) Project, the Han River Renaissance of Seoul City and the 6 Projects to link the Han River of Gyeonggi Province are threatening the conservation of the Han River Estuary Wetland Protection Area.

The marine area with soft corals off coast the Gangjeong Village in Jeju Island which is protected as a Natural Monument is very close to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is under threat by a project to build a new naval base.

Though the governments of South Korea and Japan jointly proposed Resolution X.31 'Enhancing biodiversity in rice paddies as wetland systems' which encouraged the contracting parties to promote research on flora, fauna and ecological functions in rice paddies and on the cultures that have evolved within rice-farming communities that have maintained the ecological value of rice paddies as wetland systems, there has been no specific effort made by the government of South Korea to implement the resolution.

Though the Ramsar COP10 was held one year ago in South Korea, many important wetlands of South Korea are still not well protected, but rather face destruction and degradation due to various development projects of the government. Though the South Korean government adopted the so-called Low Carbon Green Growth Plan as the country's basic development strategy, it is destroying wetlands with various development projects in the name of Green Growth.

The government of S. Korea should recall the Spirit of the Ramsar Convention, "Conservation and Wise Use of Wetland", stop large-scale wetland destruction projects and implement President Lee's promise to be a model country of the convention.

27th October 2009

Preparation Committee for the Korea Wetland NGO Network

for more information please contact Mr. Park Chung-rok, Co-Representative of Wetlands and Birds Korea (WBK) at or Mr. Ma Yong-un, Director of Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM) at

* The statement was drafted by KFEM/FoE Korea

South Korea's Green Growth National Vision; Is It Really Green?

South Korea's Green Growth National Vision; Is It Really Green?

August 20th, 2009
The Group of South Korean Academics Opposing the Canal and Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM)/Friends of the Earth Korea

The government of South Korea adopted the so-called Green Growth National Vision last year and proposed quite a few new policies and projects based on the Green Growth Plan.
However, we can find out so many flaws in the plan as described below.

Presidential Committee on Green Growth

The government of S. Korea proudly tells the world that it set up the Presidential Committee on Green Growth. However, most of the members of the committee are government-friendly people who would not raise their voices against any government's policy. Andthere is no enough communication between the committee and civil society organizations in the country. The three largest environmental organizations of the country were not invited to the committee at all and there is only one person representing an environmental organization in the committee of 47 people. It just shows that the committee can hardly reflect suggestions from the civil society of the country.

Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard

The government of Korea will introduce a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) in 2012 to increase the share of new and renewable energy in total energy use. Actually the government of S. Korea had adopted fixed minimum price for renewable energy in 2002 which contributed to increase renewable energy use in the country. However, the new RPS to be introduced in 2012 will not guarantee the minimum price for renewable energy producers, which is expected to shrink confidence of investors in renewable energymarket and to affect the related industry. A UNEP report "Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in Sustainable, Low-Cabon World)" published in September 2008, recommended governments to guarantee producers of renewable energy fixed minimum prices.

Promotion of Nuclear Energy

The 5 Year Green Growth Plan of S. Korea also includes promotion of nuclear power in energy supply from 24% of nuclear power in power generation in 2009 to 32% in 2020, where as a UNEP report "Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in Sustainable, Low-Cabon World)" published September 2008, recommended governments to reduce support for nuclear power as well as fossil fuels.
There is no safe technology to deal with high-level nuclear wastes including spent fuels and it is still controversial in and outside the country whether the nuclear power can be included as green energy or not.

Incineration of Solid Wastes

The government of Korea included promotion of waste-to-energy in the 5 year Green Growth Plan as a measure to cope with climate change. However, the government's plan is just to increase incineration of solid wastes rather than trying to reduce the amount of wastes generated. Burning of wastes will only cause damages to air quality and public health.

Reduction of Taxes

The government of S. Korea reduced taxes including income and corporate tax since the start of the President Lee Myung-bak government, early last year. Though the reduction of taxes may bring the 'business-friendly' environment for corporations and the rich, S. Korea is expected to have a record deficit of more than 400 trillion Korean Won (about USD 335 billion) next year, which is causing a threat to managing balanced finance of the country. The government is going to spend a lot of money in the 4 River Project when they have reduced tax revenue, which can be used for social welfare programs supporting vulnerable and marginalized people of the society.
The sustainable development strategy, which the all countries of the world should adopt and implement, has the three pillars of economic development, environmental conservation and social equity. The Green Growth Initiative of the country is about to threat the balance among them.

4 River Restoration Project as a Key of S. Korea's Green Growth Plan

Though, S. Korean government is proposing the 4 River Project as a measure to climate change impacts including droughts and floods, they failed to provide sound grounds based on scientific research on the climate change impact on the country. The project is based on simple assumption that droughts and floods will be increased.
There is no enough environmental and social impact assessment on the project. And the government can not provide scientific grounds to build so many dams and to dredge rivers so much. Though, the most of damages from droughts and floods happened in the areas of tributaries of the 4 rivers rather than mainstreams of the 4 rivers, the government just want to build dams, strengthen river banks and dredge the mainstreams. The ecosystems of the 4 rivers will be severely impacted from dams constructions and dredging, there is no enough explanation from the government on how to restore rivers.

The amount of the total budget for the 4 Rivers Project just increased from 13.9 trillion Korean Won (about USD 11.6 billion) at the announcement of the interim plan on April 27th, 2009 up to 22.2 trillion Korean Won (about USD 18.6 billion) at the announcement of the final plan on June 8th, 2009. We can not help but doubt about that project is well planned when we saw that the total budget of the project had increased about 8.3 trillion Korean Won (about USD 6.9 billion and 60% of the total budget) increased in a period of just one and a half month. The project will turn out to be a failure when the project is not scrupulously planned. And the people of Korea will have to pay for all the costs from the waste of tremendous amounts of budget, irreversible damage to natural rivers' environment and social discords surrounding the project.

New Dams on the Nakdong River

According to the "National Water Resources Plan(2006-2020)"v, the top level water resources management plan produced every 10 years, which was drawn up in July 2006 by then Ministry of Construction and Transportation in consultation with experts and civil society organizations, there will be 11 million cubic meters of surplus water in the Nakdong River basin in 2011. And, there is no solid ground for the government to provide 1 billion cubic meters of extra water in the river basin by building more than 8 dams on the river's mainstream. The dams will eventually reduce flow rate of the river water and to deteriorate the water quality severely.

Flood Control and Water Quality Improvement

If the government really wants to prevent flooding and to improve water quality, it should invest on managing small tributaries rather than mainstreams of the 4 rivers. More than 97% of the mainstreams of the 4 rivers already have finished river bank strengthening. And, most of the flood damages in the country are happening along small rivers and tributaries so that investing most of the budget in mainstream of the rivers is not proper. And, it is more effective to improve the water quality of tributaries rather than trying to improve in the mainstreams.

4 River Restoration Project and Job Creation

The government of South Korea argues that the Green New Deal policy including the 4 River Restoration Project will be effective in providing jobs. However, it will not provide any decent jobs, but only jobs for simple and manual labors, which will not helpto solve the social problem of increasing jobless young people with higher education who do not want dirty, dangerous and difficult jobs. Many of manual labors in the country are filled with foreign workers and the 4 River Project will create jobs for them.

Bicycle Lanes along the 4 Rivers

The government of S. Korea also argues that it promotes the green transport and the construction of 1,728km long bicycle lanes newly paved along the water front of the 4 rivers will help increase the use of bicycles from 1.5 per cent in 2009 to 5 per cent in 2013, thus contribute to the reduction of carbon dioxide emission. However, if the government really wants to increase the use of bicycles as a green alternative to driving cars, they should promote the use of bicycles in urban areas instead of country-side areas along the 4 rivers. The bicycle lanes along the 4 Rivers will only increase leisure opportunities for people. And, the construction of the bicycle lanes will only result in the destruction of riverine environment and isolation of the rivers from the surrounding environment.

Lack of Democratic Decision Making

There has been no enough communication about the 4 River Project. Government-funded research institutes made up the largest development project of the country worth of 22.2 trillion Korean Won (about USD 18.6 billion) in just 6 months. The government strictly controlled to keep the related information from reaching out to the public. Though there were just few public hearings and meetings with local people, all of them were merely formalities and concerns of local people and civil society organizations were not reflected at all.

Environmental and Social Impacts of the 'Four Rivers Project' in Korea

Environmental and Social Impacts of the 'Four Major Rivers Restoration Project' in Korea

31 July 2009
Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM)/Friends of the Earth Korea

The proposed 'Four Major Rivers Restoration Project' is one of the largest development projects in South Korea, which will cause very big impacts on environment and people living along the 4 largest rivers of South Korea.

According to the master plan of the project which was made public on 8 June 2009, it was proposed to store water to be prepared for drought and water shortage; to prevent flooding; to improve water quality and restore ecosystems; and to promote local tourism.

Most of the total budget of 22.2 trillion Korean Won(USD 17.8 billion) will be spent by 2012 to build more than 16 new dams on the mainstreams of the 4 rivers and 5 new dams on their tributaries, to raise 87 existing irrigation dams, to strengthen 377km of river bank and to dredge 570 million cubic meters of sand and gravel from 691km long sections of the rivers to keep the water 4-6m deep of the 4 rivers and to strengthen 243km of river bank and to raise 9 existing irrigation dams in other tributaries and river basins.

KFEM is worried about the negative impacts the project will bring on to environment and society of Korea and would like to point out a few major concerns it has and to propose a few policy suggestions for the real restoration of the rivers.

Water Supply

The Korean government argues that we need to build new dams and to raise existing irrigation dams to secure 1.25 billion cubic meters of additional water as water shortage of 1 billion cubic meters is expected by 2016 due to climate change. Especially, it plans to secure 1 billion cubic meters of water in the Nakdong River basin by building more than 8 new dams on the mainstream of the Nakdong River to secure 650 million cubic meters of water and 3 new large dams on its tributaries to secure 250 million cubic meters of water and raising 31 existing irrigation dams in the basin to secure 100 million cubic meters of water.

However, according to the 「National Water Resources Plan(2006-2020)」, the top level water resources management plan produced every 10 years, which was drawn up in July 2006 by then Ministry of Construction and Transportation in consultation with experts and civil society organizations, only 21 million cubic meters of water will be in short by 2016 in the Nakdong River basin.

There is no solid ground for the government to predict water shortage in the river basin and to build such a many new dams in the basin.

Korean water supply system is already so much developed, especially in most populated area, that droughts and water shortages in recent years happen only in remote areas such as mountainous areas and islands. Therefore there is no need to build many new dams on the mainstream of the 4 rivers.

Flood Control

The government argues that we need to reduce the waste of annual tax money of 7 trillion Korean Won(US$ 5.5 billion) spending on flood damage and recovery. However this amount of money include all the damages far from the mainstream of the 4 rivers. Most parts of the 4 largest rivers are embanked that there has been few flood damages along the mainstream of them. Most of flood damages in recent years have occurred in mountainous and urban areas which can not be prevented by construction of new dams on the mainstream of the rivers.

Water Quality Improvement

About two thirds of all the S. Korean people depend on the two largest rivers, the Han river and the Nakdong River for their sources of drinking water. And, it is expected that the water quality of the rivers will deteriorate rather than improve when about 20 dams are built on the mainstream of the rivers as dams will block free flow of river water. When the free flow of river water is blocked by dams depletion of dissolved oxygen in the water, eutrophication and algal bloom will be induced.

According to an independent research of a professor in environmental engineering, more than 10 dams on the mainstream of the Nakdong River will degrade water quality as retention time of the river water will be increased from the current 18.3 days up to 191 days. It will also induce blooms of green algae and brown algae in the water.

Dredging also bring about water quality deterioration as it will remove river shallows and riparian wetlands which facilitate aeration into river water and absorption of excessive nutrients from the river water.

The government plan to finish all the necessary works within only three years by 2012. Massive construction works to build dams and to dredge 570 million cubic meters of sand and gravel from the 4 rivers will dramatically increase suspended particles in the river water which is normally clean and clear. The suspended particles will be another concern especially during the project period.

Impact on Environment

The project will cause negative impacts on the conservation of many important wetlands along the 4 rivers which support diverse forms of wild animals and plants as it include a lot of dams construction and dredging. Most of riparian wetlands, vegetations and sand bars along the rivers will lose their natural integrity and habitat diversity due to dam constructions and extensive dredging of 570 million cubic meters of sand and gravel from the 4 rivers.

The Nakdong River will be affected the most from the heavy dredging of collecting 440 million cubic meters of sand and gravel from the 330 km long section of the river from its mouth by 2011. There are plans to build more than 8 dams of 10 to 13 meters high on its mainstream and a couple more on its tributaries. As a result of the project, depth of the mainstream of the Nakdong River will be maintained more than 6 meters deep.

There are many important wetlands developed in the floodplain of the Nakdong River including Upo Wetland, Haepyeong Wetland, Hwapo Wetland, and Gudam Wetland as well as many along the Han River, Geum River and Yeongsan River.

The Nakdong Estuary Ecosystem and Landscape Conservation Area is a protected wetland with 5 different domestic laws and regulations. The project will impair the integrity of the wetland including which meet the criteria to be listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. Many endangered bird species use the estuary for their wintering, breeding and/or staging sites including Black-faced Spoonbill Platalea minor, Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus, Steller's Sea Eagle Haliaeetus pelagicus, and Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi.

The Upo Wetland, one of the Ramsar Wetladns of International Importance in the country will get negative impact from the project. As the Upo Wetland has developed in the floodplain of the Nakdong River, change in the hydrology of the river due to dam construction and dredging will be expected to change the hydrology of the wetland in a negative way.

The Haepyeong Wetland is a riparian wetland along the Nakdong River and is protected as a Wildlife Protection Area. It is an important staging sites for 20-70% of the global population of Hooded Crane Grus monacha and 10% of White-naped Crane Grus vipio.

The Junam Reservoir in the lower stretch of the Nakdong River is an important wintering sites for White-naped Crane Grus vipio supporting more than 10% of the global population of them in winter. White-naped Cranes of the Junam Reservoir find their roosting sites in nearby riparian wetlands of the Nakdong River which is under threat from the dredging.

The Geum Estuary also is an important wetland supporting 300,000 to 500,000 Baikal Teals Anas formosa, 60-70% of Northeast Asian population of Oyestercatchers Haematopus ostralegus osculans, and more than 10% of the global population of Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi. It is also under threat due to the extensive dredging along the river.

Dozens of Freshwater fish species will also be threatened by the project as dam construction and dredging will result in the loss of rivers' natural habitat diversity. About 40 fish species among 60 endemic freshwater fish species of the country tend to spawn and find foods in river shallows which are expected to be eliminated due to dam building and dredging. Most of the diverse freshwater habitats of the 4 rivers will be changed into that of artificial lakes with more depth and less turbulence. And, such changes in characteristics of freshwater habitats, especially in turbidity and turbulence which is crucial for survival and diversity of freshwater fish species will result in the loss of freshwater fish species diversity.

Endangered endemic freshwater fish species, Gobiobotia nakdongensis is dependent upon sandy shallows of the Nakdong River and Koreocobitis naktongensis is dependent upon gravelled shallows of the river. Another endangered endemic freshwater fish species, Iksookimia choii is living in shallows of the upstream Geum River. Their survival is critical when the shallows are disappeared by dams and dredging.

Extensive dredging will also impact on many freshwater fish species as dramatically increase suspended particles in the river water will impair breathing of fishes as well as other organisms which are food sources of fishes. Photosynthesis and survival of algae will be impaired by dredging which will result in decrease of important food sources for fish.

Dams are also expected to prevent migratory freshwater fishes, such as Plecoglossus altivelis and Anguilla japonica, from moving freely up and down the rivers for spawning and feeding.

Environmental Impact Assessment

The project was made public for the first time on 15 December 2008 and its master plan was announced in 8 June 2009. And the government wants to start the project from October 2009 and finish it by 2012.

When the government announced its interim plan on 27 April 2009, the total budget of the project was about 14 trillion Korean Won and it just increased to 22.2 trillion Korean Won when the master plan was announced on 8 June 2009. The total budget increased by 59% in just one and a half months, which implies that the planning of the project might be made with poor consultation among government bodies, let alone consultation with concerned local people and civil society organizations.

Though it is the one of the largest development projects of the country costing more than 22.2 trillion Korean Won(US$17.8 billion) by 2012, there is no proper Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) carried out. Though 5.2 trillion Korean Won(USD 4.2 billion) will be spent on dredging and 2.7 trillion Korean Won(USD 1.7 billion) on building new dams which will have tremendous impacts on rivers’ environment, there was no Feasibility Study about the project, either.

The government wants to finish the EIA in just a couple of months and start the project from October, this year. It is not a proper process for such a large development project which will cause big impact on riverine environment of the country.

Social Impact

The government also plans to relocate thousands of farms along the rivers to restore them. It is estimated that there are about 17,000ha of farmland in floodplains along the rivers.

In the case of Paldang area which is one the oldest and largest organic farming clusters in the country, about 100 farms of 81ha will have to be relocated that local farmers are very much concerned. Actually their farming in organic way was promoted by local governments as it was considered the best way to lead sustainable livelihoods for local farmers and to protect the water quality of the Paldang lake which is the source of water for almost 25 million people in Seoul and its vicinity. Farmers were informed of the situation that their farms will have to just a couple of months ago.


It is very important to restore rivers, to supply water and to prevent flooding in a sustainable way. Many international bodies including the UNEP, other UN agencies and Ramsar Convention have tried to implement the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity defined the Ecosystem Approach as ‘a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way’. It requires the taking into consideration of the effects of actions on every element of an ecosystem, based on the recognition that all elements of an ecosystem are linked.

If the South Korean government really want to restore its 4 major rivers, it should make restoration plans for the Integrated Water Resources Management with ecosystem approach to restore full functions and interactions among living organisms and their environment.

It is known that natural riverine wetlands provide diverse ecosystem services including water supply, flood control, water quality improvement and tourism promotion when they are managed in sustainable way. If we manage rivers and riverine wetlands wisely based on the ecosystem approach, we can solve almost all the challenges related to river and water resources management.

A recent poll conducted by an independent research institute in late June 2009 showed that 67.4% of Korean people wanted that the budget for the 4 Rivers Restoration Project should be used in other areas such as public welfare.

Korean government must change its traditional water manager’s view which can provide limited jobs and boost local economy for during the project period, only three years to come. Instead, the government should try to look for a real approach for reviving rivers and their ecosystems based on participatory approach, involving all the stakeholders of the country.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who becomes a marionette by S. Korea; UNEP?

UNEP has newly released a report, "OVERVIEW OF THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA'S GREEN GROWTH NATIONAL VISION", on 20 August with the pledge toward green growth in Korea. But it is too shameful that this report begins with lies from the start.

Because, according to the report, this visionary report was made with consultancy of NGOs, such as KFEM(Korea Federation for Environmental Movements) and Eco Horizon, to enhance "sustainability challenges from renewable energy and waste to transport, freshwaters and forestry", but we couldn't find a word of theirs in the report. UNEP has just imitated what South Korean government translated from the hopeful estimates of the project. Like a desperate marionette on the string!

In particular, UNEP applause Lee's construction state that South Korea's stimulus package contains "the Four Major River Restoration Project, which is one of the key components of the Five-Year Green Growth Plan with a total budget of US$13 billion". Though Mr. A. Steiner expects that this mega-construction is "to contribute to securing water resources, improving water quality, preventing floods, and enhancing regional development.", this short-term construction works will affect tremendous area of natural habitats for migratory and endemic species. And people who works along riverine basin will lose their livelihood, too. In addition, lots of future generation will take burden to pay for the irresponsible decision of CONSTRUCTION STATE, which is genuinely interpreted by professor Gavan MaCormack, an author of Client State.

That's why KFEM and other environmental NGOs are campaigning to stop Four River Project initiated by Lee M.B administration.

More details will be forwarded page by page as we review the whole text and con-text.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Petition is going on to stop MEGA-construction

KFEM has opened on ThePetitionSite, calling people's action on the web to stop "Four River Restoration Project" in S.Korea.

You could read a commercial rhetoric from Lee's administration on the web. But you should be caustious not to be deeply attracted by the CGs and spcious words, words, words...
We know that the project could be real as the other commercials on TVs. Yes, it could be, if all data and information are correct.

So... please, read between lines when you meet a read-out from Korean government. Or you should ask them before you read to the end.

Korean governments, including the minister from ME(Minister of Environment), insist that they are going to upgrade water supply & river ecosystem. However, they don't know how to UP!

It's irreputable that correct and honest Diagnosis should be given at all costs before such a big construction works begin. But we don't believe that all EIA(Environmental Impact Assessment) could be finished in a couple of months for such a mega-construction. And all construction works will be finished within 4 years!

Without your petition, all major rivers and adjacent lands in S.Korea will turn into construction sites for 4 years. Do you really want to see such a disaster? If not, click here to sign for a petition to stop it.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Appeal to Save 4 Major Rivers in S. Korea

July 19 2009

Dear Friends

I am writing on behalf of the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM)/Friends of the Earth Korea (FoE Korea) to draw your attention to the so-called “Four Rivers Restoration Project,” a set of very large development projects that threatens to destroy river ecosystems and biodiversity in South Korea.

Mr. Lee Myung-bak, President of South Korea, is embarking on a project that will seriously damage the ecosystems of four largest rivers in the country. I hope you and your organization will support our campaign by endorsing the attached letter and/or write your own letter in opposition to President Lee’s Four Major Rivers Restoration project.

The South Korean government announced the Master Plan for the “Four Major Rivers Restoration” on 8 June 2009. The rivers are the Han River, Nakdong River, Geum River and Yeongsan River. They are four largest rivers in South Korea and sources of drinking water for two-thirds of the population of the country. The rivers are home to many wild animals and plants including a lot of endangered species.

The purpose of the project is to store water and to control flooding. According to the government, they want to dredge 691 km long sections of the four rivers extracting 570 million m3 of sand and gravel from the rivers and to construct 20 weirs of about 6 m high. The project will potentially prevent fish from laying eggs in the river shallows, eliminate river and wetlands where inhabited by wild animals and plants, and pollute drinking water sources used by much of the country’s population.

The government proposes to spend 22 trillion Korean Won ($17.4 billion USD) of tax payers’ money on the project. It is one of the economic stimulus packages to create employment in accordance with so-called “Low Carbon & Green Growth” promoted by the Lee government. We, however, recognize that large construction projects are not a model for sustainable development in the 21st century. According to the recent poll conducted on 30 June 2009, 66.6% of the Korean populations oppose the project, while 27.1% of them support it.

The bulldozers will start in October 2009. There are only three months left before the initiation of the project. Since its announcement, Korean environmentalists have organized sit-in campaigns from 9 June 2009 in downtown Seoul. We call for urgent action from the international communities and environmentalists around the world. Please send e-mails to the people listed below to save Korean rivers and wetlands from this economically and environmentally unsound project.

Mr. Lee Myung-bak, President of Republic of Korea
Mr. Chung Jong-hwan, Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs
Mr. Lee Maanee, Minister of Environment
with cc to International Affairs, KFEM/FOE Korea at

For more information, please contact Ms. Kim Choony/Ms. Jang Seon-yeong at KFEM/FOE Korea via,

Thank you very much in advance for your support.

Sincerely Yours,

Kim Jong-nam (Ms.)
Secretary General


(Sample Letter)

Dear Honorable President Lee Myung-bak,

I am writing to you to express my deep and sincere concern about your proposed Four Major River Restoration Project in your country.

I strongly urge you to reconsider your plan to construct 20 weirs and to extract 570 million m3 of sand and gravel in the name of “restoration of rivers”. This huge project will not restore nor improve the rivers, but only devastate them. It will cause destruction of habitats for many wild animals and plants and contamination of drinking water sources of many people. Moreover this is not a model for Low Carbon & Green Growth that you are initiating now, but the model of ‘algae’ due to deterrence of water flow from constructing weirs.

I understand that 22 trillion Korean Won ($17.4 billion USD) will be spent for this project. Such a large budget can be used to promote economically, socially, and environmentally sound programs in Korea.

Time Magazine chose you as an environmental hero in November 2007. I would like to ask you to show the world your new leadership in environmental protection as a real environmental hero by reconsidering the project.

On 5 May 2009, you also told a group of children that you would be an environmentalist. Please show them your leadership as an environmentalist by canceling this project.

Sincerely yours,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who really says the truth; Transformer or Conservationist?

The idea "GREEN" means different!

When Korean President(Lee M.B.) says, it means the death penalty to our Mother River; excavation, sand dredging, asphalt pavement, dam construction, etc. And he says that all construction works will benefit us all with reference to his personal accomplishment, Cheonggaecheon(riv.). When he was a mayor of Seoul city, he made it into a phantastic waterway for amusement.

We define his green as asphalt-mindful-politics! Don't be astray when he open his mouth, because he does not pay attention to what real green examples all around the world.

When we say GREEN, it always meant to protect helpless GREENs.

We say that Korean government's "Four River Restoration Plan" is a "Four River Killing Project" that cuts off natural waterways and creates a gigantic tub.

The core of the "Four River Restoration Plan" is "to increase the quantity of water retained in the Four major rivers (Han River, Nakdong River, Geum River, Yeongsan River) by dredging 570 million m3 tons of river bottom and creating 20 weirs(dams)." The plan essentially argues for enlarging and flattening river bottoms and damming up naturally flowing river systems.

Up to now dams in Korea primarily submerged upstream regions of rivers, but now the government plans to turn the entire ecosystem of the river into a massive reservoir with super dams. Such a project will turn four major rivers into a massive tub that not only will cause drinking water shortages but also destroy natural habitats for every life forms along the rivers, human or not.

Citizens are against Killing Project 2009-2012 by Lee M.B. administration.
(images with words "let the river runs as it is" by Baek & Jung from

Everyday we protest on the street, then we learn that words are to be worthwhile to pay attention when spoken with true mind. However, we should remind that even lies could be real when repeated. That's why we say to the world "Save Our Rivers".

Next SAVE RIVERS stories will soon be uploaded as "Eight Reasons that We Oppose the Four River Restoratio Plan"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mega-construction will soon launch, labelled as "Four river restoration"

New updates to SAVE RIVERS in S.Korea.
It has passed a couple of months, and now we're going to show you newly updated news and request for rivers and streams.

First of all, "Four River Restoration" will turn into a devastating mega-contruction project by Lee M.B. administration;

  • More than 2.2 trillion won($17 billion or 12 billion euro), 10% of S.Korean GDP, will be squizzed out of TAX money, nothing from corporations/conglomerates as president Lee once mentioned during election campaign.
  • 570 million m3 of sand and pebbles will be excavated on behalf of water quality improvement, Nakdong River will lose 440 million m3 of natural habitats for wildlife.
  • 20 dams/weirs will block natural streams and transform rivers into artificial reservoir, and finally slow down the speed of rivers by 90%.
  • 2/3 of South Koreans should give up drinking water supply during and everafter these mega construction works.
Lee M.B. administration publicize through all kinds of mass media named "1,000 Days Promise". Because president Lee demands his ministers to spend 2.2 trillion won in 1,000 days. Though they presumes 360,000 new jobs will be made by these mega project, it's just a castle of the sand. In reality, 333 Koreans are now losing regular jobs everyday in S.Korea.

As tax money will be gone, welfare of citizens will be lost amid bulldozers.

More updates will be on and we need your help!
  • Detailed information: why we oppose to Four River Restoration Plan by Lee M.B.
  • Petitionsite will be open ASAP.
  • Letter of Support is ready now.
  • What Korean NGOs are campaigning to Save Rivers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

what you can do to save rivers in crisis

What we can do to save rivers in crisis?

Let them flow as they are. To restore its vitality as ever.

Then we humans do make ourselves be accustomed to the cycle of lives,we should not shut it down.

(photo. Dong-river, once threatened by dam construction. A symbol of successful River Conservation Campaign in S. Korea)

South Korean Rivers make affluent wetlands with diverse lives for humans as well as for nature itself.

Probably the same as yours.

Rivers curve along mountains and carry spectacles of lives to downstream.

They slow down the upstream when rainy season as they go downstream. And store rain along riverbasin in forms of marsh, pond, small streams and underground water. Upstream and downstream connect us all.

We could say rivers flow with mountains and mingle with the sea.

(photo. Nakdong-river estuary, under the threat of mega-construction projects, such as "Korea Grand Canal" and "4 River Management".)

Now... What we can do together to save rivers in crisis? Should they lose all vitality and lives in them? We can make them flow as they used do. Please follow one of our campaigns to SAVE RIVERS.
  • Read real stories of S. Korea's RIVERS; Han-river, Geum-river, Yeongsan-river, and Nakdong-river.
  • Be aware of S. Korean government's green-disguise; Lee administration favors bulldozer-conglomerates but pretends to appear greener as in the article "Das grĂ¼ne Herz von Seoul" in die tageszeitung. Let us know ASAP what it says in your mass media.
  • Send us PETITION letter of support that we can deliver to the President's office. Or you may send e-mails of your voice. (President's office:
  • Send us Videoclips of support that we can edit and upload for S. Korean media. Or upload it directly on the Youtube and link it at this blog so that I can identify.
  • If you need real and objective information of S. Korean rivers, just send me e-mail.
  • If you have a blog, please follow this campaign so that your countries should not immitate green-disguised economic package (or Green New Deal) of S. Korea.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life eats savings! It worsens when jobs unstable...

As we hear obscure news from overseas, especially from USA, we can't help losing trust of our governments' hopeful promise and policy change. Because our life eats savings owing to rising expenses. Regarding Koreans' middle class lifestyle, I could say that lots of people spend most on hosing, education, driving and insurance. As for housing, they should pay for housing loans for the entire of their lives to sustain this lifestyle. If they want to inherit to the children, more and more money goes into private education sect.

To maintain middle class lifestyle, we might lose unnecessary time and resources on bubble-following lifestyle shown around us. Some say that Lee Myong Bak administration makes current economic crisis worse with bad policy. Spend, spend, spend more budget on construction and development notwithstanding its unbeneficially low B/C expectations.

Gyeongin Canal has shown the typical business style of Lee administration. It has begun excavation though the B/C result is below 1. This B/C ratio figure has changed according to the institutes and time: firstly, 0.92∼1.28(2003, KDI), then 1.76(2006, DHV), and 1.065(2008, KDI). Recently Ministry of Strategy and Finance(MOSF) analysed that Gyeongin Canal will need 30% budget increase when considered cost of living increase(Hangyoreh). In fact, Korean government has always changed words, words, words.

Another true factsheet has been reported by Bank of Korea: construction industry creates less jobs than service industry. But Lee and his colleagues insist construction should effect more jobs for Koreans.

That's why we don't need anymore unbeneficial land development through reclamation, excavation, and construction works.

As NPR reports show that Americans have also continued spending more and more untile very recently. But it seems that they don't really want to reduce the cost of living demanding "middle class lifestyle" It meant that more commercials send signals on the screen, more people are going to feel destined to get a brand new style. Does this mean updated cable TV, cell phones, driving, eating out, housing, shopping, membership... ?
(graph by Alan Cordova/NPR and story by Laura Conaway)

Now we definitely need the ROAD NOT TAKEN to evade this gloomy future again.
More GREEN CHOICE will be the one!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Nothing natural on MBnomics!

The president of S.Korea has announced during his election campaign that the economy would flourish if the Korea Grand Canal project launched. To make this idea popular among Koreans, his campaign used "MBnomics"* as one of his slogans.
And finally, the construction of Gyeongin Canal** has started in succession of its waterway excavation. It will be twice wider and deeper when finished.

Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA)?
Who cares?

It would be disasters for the ecosystem and wildlife, communities, as well as the economy itself. At best, it could only contribute to the construction and estate partners. But current economic crisis has come out of estate bubbles all around us, and it won't be disappear without pertinent treatment to restore its stability.

Nothing natural can be seen on MBnomics, even on the web!

If you visit the website of Korean President, you can easily see how Lee M.B. administration and his ruling party, Grand National Party, are obsessed by constructions and corporates[Jaebeul]. All BLOGs of the Office of the President have no contents from "ecosystem based ideas", "conservation of wetlands & the other natural resources", "environment for humans and the wildlife".

To see presidential blogs in Korean, click one of these: naver blog, daum blog and yahoo blog.
See more news related to CANAL stories in English on the media, click here.
If you are interested in Natural Aspects of Han River Estuary, visit here for downloadable report on Han River Estuary.
You could identify more wetlands of international importance in S.Korea, too.

MBnomics*: made from "MB(Lee Myong Bak)" and "economics" to emphasize Lee's economic career from construction CEO.
Gyeongin Canal**: sometimes called as "Kyeongin Canal", "Seoul-Incheon Canal", or "Han River Canal"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Link for Nature & powerful Social Network

Recently I am trying to distribute "SAVE RIVERS of South Korea" among friends new & old.

Nature Blog Network (NBN) is the one! They run a powerful network using photos to save nature in the worldwide. In many cases, you know, we humans are fascinated by simply overwhelming pictures and/or images. You won't be disappointed. Feel free to enjoy and see SAVE RIVERS in it, too.


from Seoul and
Nature Blog Network

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Korean citizens vs. Lee M.B. government

How do you think about Lee M.B., the president of S.Korea? Is he still a "Saving Seoul" hero, who redesigned Cheonggyecheon stream*?


Lee has finally decided to construct a Gyeongin Canal, connecting the Yellow Sea and the Han River. Environmental impact assessement was finished less than 2 months over 18 kilometers long.

In the past, lots of Koreans find this newborn Cheonggyechoen stream very attractive in a mega city notwithstading its half success. After redesign lots of other streams and small rivers have suffered a surgery, got rid of original flora and fauna from the stream, and paved with banks and roads for leisure. We could say that Lee's Saving Seoul program turned out a disaster and/or a BAD environmentalism in the end.

Bad environmentalism of Lee M.B government has been criticized since its inauguration. Because he hasn't forgiven Korea Grand Canal, though he promised not to propel it against the will of people. Until now the majority of Koreans do not want canals. See the image(by Choi, Ho Cheol) on the below how people demonstrated their will against Lee's BAD POLICY and sheer DEVELOPMENTALISM.

All he promised to Koreans turned out a lie!
He just pretended to become a president of S.Korea.

With betrayed mind, people gathered together at Cheonggycheon and in front of Gyeongbok Palace** with candles of hope. Recently journalists are being investigated by prosecutors because they broadcasted candle light demonstration and mad cow disease. And one of them are arrested because of it. People concern that democracy should retreat to the status of military government 20 years ago.

*Cheonggyecheon stream was once a urban stream near Gyeongbok Palace. And Lee helped pave the stream, burying it under an elevated highway as he was a young employee at Hyundai Construction and Engineering in the 1960s. In 2006, he re-paved and buried it over artificial stream for ever when he was a mayor of Seoul city.
**In front of the Gyeongbok Palace, there has been a DRUM, which people can signal what they want to say unfairness to the King. You may see a Blue House, where president lives at the foot of the mountain below. Gyeongbok Palace is in front of it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

What a BAD legislation; a cartoon_4 river management#1

As I promised before, I have translated a cartoon criticizing "4 River Management" project. I have finished the 1st piece of 3, and will complete ASAP.

This cartoon is one of the relayed 14 subscriptions to the public by famous cartoonists in S.Korea.

These stories are related BAD Legislation by Lee M.B. government since its inauguration last year. Lots of the bills are going to be BAD LAWS to check human rights to expression in Korea. And they will threaten security and freedom of citizens; to repress the right of congregation, to open up the market of drinking water, to stricken the right of labor, to define the right of expression on-and off-line as terror, to lower the entrance to media business and finance for Jaebeol (a group of corporations owned by A family!), to open up medical service, to curtail human rights committee and enhance national security law. Some of these bad legislation occurred by the candle light demonstration and campaigns to stop canal project.

Please feel free to distribute this cartoon to your friends!
And if you have something to say and show to stop unbeneficial "4 River Management" and canal projects, send me to and

Click the image to see in a big size.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Should Han River be connected to the Yellow Sea?

"Should Han River be connected to the Yellow Sea? Through Canal?"

Han River runs through Seoul and many other provinces and meets the Yellow Sea at the estuary. Every year this intertidal mudflat welcomes the endangered wildlife and migratory species; spoonbill, swan goose, cranes, shorebirds, ducks, and so on.

If Han River Canal, which is going to cut into the river and connect to the Yellow Sea, should constructed in 80 meters wide, 6 meters deep, 18 kilometer long, it will degrade all habitats for wildlife. Swan Goose(above photo) will lost its feeding ground and won't come back to Russia.
(Han River Canal is called Gyeongin Canal by the government, because it covers Seoul, Incheon and Gimpo.)

Day after day, Lee M.B. government insists the necessity of CANAL(like the above photo, but will be twice the size!) for cheaper transportation and transboundary trade to China and Japan. These days the president and ministers emphasize that this canal project will lead GREEN GROWTH. But they want to budget most of the money into estate development like they did the same in the past.

But rivers are alive and will be like they ran, if we try to stop this reckless & remorseless project of Lee M.B. government. When the Han River Canal complete, the Nakdong River(above photo) will be transformed into the canal. It's not a imaginary story.

If you agree and support our campaign, do try to make videoclip to express your opinions.
Or just forward this page to yours and friends of the river worldwide.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Living River_photo

As you can see on the picture, Nakdong river runs through beautifully now.
It's alive!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

S.Korea Canal and River Management Project_Save Rivers News

This message is delivered to the friends of wetlands worldwide whomever I know via e-mail.
And I put this message again with slight revision to SAVE RIVERS and their LIVES.

Friends of the Earth Korea (FOE KFEM) and lots of NGOs in Korea are campainging on the web and on the streets to figure out whether S. Korea goes “GREEN” or “GREY”. Or it will probably turn out "DARK".
Because we just hear lies disguised behind the curtain of discriminating principals.

I am doing campaigns for the conservation of intertidal mudflats and SAVE RIVERS in Korea.
These wetlands are very important habitats for the migratory birds and other species as well as local communities.
Unfortunately lots of them aren’t designated as wetland protected area and/or Ramsar sites.
Unlike the promise pronounced at the Ramsar COP10, Korean government doesn’t consider to designate Ramsar sites as their promise spoken. We only have 20 Ramsar sites!

Even worse, newly launched government is going to develop 4 big rivers with banks, dams, cycle roads, theme parks, waterway construction, etc.
Reviving 4 River Management” and canal projects are in the rush by Lee M.B.(president) and his people. It's a shame that Ramsar COP10 venue is going to be a symbol of wetland destroyer.
They have revised and will revise Environment Impact Assessment(EIA), lowering its guidelines, so that they can excavate and pave roads even in natural reserve/protected areas, and construction will be proceed much faster, easier, unchecked. All the remaining environmental impact would be left to the wretched and helpless beings as usual.
Lots of Koreans concern that this government should lead Korean society to the past with only construction works and green-painted visions.
Even Ministry of Environment say that current river management project may clean water and prevent flood.

To accomplish this, they even named their projects as “GREEN”; Green New Deal, Green Growth.
But they just gather development projects from local governments regardless of their greenness.
They disguise themselves and pretend to be friends of the nature.
The realities will be sacrifice the of rice-paddies, farmlands, fisheries, national parks, mudflats and mountains on behalf of leisure parks, residential areas, asphalt paved creatures.
(Details will be shown on the SAVE RIVERS campaign blog(En) ASAP.)

S. Korean Government is publicize their projects on the web and on the streets; they exaggerate no living animals could be seen in the Korean rivers.
Last week, they officially campaigned on the web with video clips, even they insert one of the famous photos by American photographer Natalie Fobes to tell people that Korean rives are dead in a exaggerated way(?). After news report about its falsehood, Korean government shut down its blog for a time being.
Feel free to forward this message to Mr. Fobes whoever is acquainted with. He should know what happened with his photo.

And this video clip said:

  • Korean Rivers are under quality for human use; lower than 10ppm(BOD)
  • Rivers are dead with no living fish
  • No natural wetlands exist in- and at- the rivers
  • No birds visit Korean wetlands
  • And they promise that all these creatures return alive if “Reviving 4 Rivers Management” is done; excavating 4 meters deep in the riverbed and make waterways in a straight way, and banks and dams across the river

But the true reports as follows:

  • Even the worst river(Yeoungsan river) shows 5ppm(BOD) and the others show much cleaner evidence. Koreans have poured millions and billions dollars into the river.
  • The photo was copied from Natalie Fobes and 2,500 salmon was killed by toxics. Though we have toxic pollutions from time to time, we still have lots of fish in the river. Just ask people on the streets whether they fish or not at the river. We have 212 different species in the different river areas. 50 species aren’t be seen in any of the world.
  • Rivers themselves are natural wetlands stretching 72,533km long. It’s beyond explanation. Anyone who has visited rivers can see.
  • And lots of them are on the migratory routes for cranes, shorebirds, and other birds.
  • Lots of migratory birds visit and live in the Korean wetlands; estuaries, rivers, shores, sandy & rocky areas, and wherever they feel safe to breed and feed. Nakdong river itself becomes habitats for 2~4,000 migratory cranes. And estuaries are perfect places for migratory shorebirds on the coastlines.
  • To make living creatures flourish in the river, just let it be. And find out the place once river has run through and rehabilitate it.

Lee M.B administration make their plans known on

webpage and portal sites(,
If you visit government(Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs) homepage right now, you can see photos celebrating the launch of “Reviving 4 Rivers Project Team”.

Don’t be relieved that these pages are the only propagation sites for FOUR RIVER MANAGEMENT project. All the other ministries have their own websites and portal pages and blogs, too.

And even ex-politicians, who have joined Lee M.B. presidential election campaign but failed to join the National Assembly member, are actively moving to propel Canal Projects by establishing environmental NGO or institutes through the country. Though the secretary of the Bluehouse denies that they are not involved with those organizations, people knows that they prepare canal projects and propagate to help Mr. President.

So I’d like to get HELP from you and your friends about river, water, wetland management guidelines/information from overseas.

What you can help for SAVE RIVERS in S. Korea:

  • If you have a good example of them, I would like to inform Korean people the better way or alternative to these BAD PROJECTS. If you have a bad and catastrophic example, let me know it to prevent Korean disaster.
  • I’d like to share the real stories of Korean wetland management under this government, so that you can distribute and put the stories on your web and let it be published in/on any media. Just let me know where you have put these truth. (I have made a blog for English readers just now and it will be filled with true status of S. Korea and linked to informative websites.)
  • If you have questions and more information on the blog, let us know to upload.
    And if you have a few seconds, click the followers on the blog page(right) for SAVE RIVERS campaign.
  • If you have your own webpage and/or blog that you can receive and copy my news, let me know it on the blog or email.
  • And please, distribute this news to the press or release to the readers who shall worry Endangered Wetlands/Rivers in Korea. Or forward us contacts that I and our team could release true stories of Korean wetlands.
  • And if you find false stories or exaggerated news about canals and river management projects outside Korea, let me know ASAP.

Not long ago, you shall see a thorning cartoon by a famous cartoonist which shows the darkening future of Korean rivers. As soon as I translate scripts, I will put it this on the blog.

With best wishes,

Monday, February 9, 2009

REAL stories of RIVER management in KOREA_intro

Dear readers,

S.Korea is going to DREDGE and DEVELOP 4 big rivers in Korea under the title of "Reviving 4 Rivers" project, as Korean Grand Canal has been cornered with the objection of citizens.

Such an annoucement has been repeated several times by Lee M.B.(president) and his people to launch countrywide construction work in- and along-the river.

  • Kyeongbu Canal Project
  • Korea Grand Canal Project
  • 4 River Management Project
  • Connecting Waterway and Riverbasin Management in 4 Rivers Project
  • Reviving 4 Rivers
  • Reviving 4 Rivers and Riverbasin Management Project
Policies of Lee M.B. government and the ruling party are so called conservative ones, but this time they went too far away to revive natural condition of rivers. They even decorated these projects with "GREEN New Deal".

However one thing is clear, Koreans have already poured into millions and billions dollars to water management in 4 big rivers. And 97% of rivers have already got physical treatment to control flood, pollution and watershortage.

Lee M.B. has designated every positon in the cabinet with ONE VOICE of PRO-DEVELOPMENTALIST, and they say in formal- and informal places all canals and/or construction irregardless of their ministry.

No other president has showed his career so prominetly as he. Aa CEO from construction Jaebul*. other social problems, such as labor, human right, health, education, etc.

This is S.KOREA TODAY and I will let you know more KOREAN TRUTH with river management plans, paper stories, episodes, and the like.

You won't be disappointed!
If you're pleased at my stories, forward it to your friends and make friends known where Korea goes.


*Jaebul: a kind of plutocracy; group of big corporations which consists of family, relatives, enterprenuer, and monopolists