Lee Myung Bak recently broke ground
on the banks of the Yongsan River in Naju late last week to begin a $19.2 billion public works project. The objective is to remake the Yongsan River a better waterway by preventing flooding, cleaning up this already polluted river and making it a riverside for bike trails and other water activities. This project also includes rebuilding the Han, Nakdong and Kum rivers in South Korea.
Lee was successful in a similar venture in Seoul with the Cheonggyechon River. There he literally uncovered
the Cheonggyechon by tearing down the road that had been built over it to ease the increasing traffic in Seoul. Now the area benefits with less flooding, cooler temperatures in the summer, more spaces to recreate and an increase in wildlife.
Some Koreans argue that the project will be an environmental disaster. We will see. But after the success of Cheonggyecheon I am blinded by the benefits. More jobs will be created, there will be more access to cleaner and people will have more areas to run, fish and be outside. These areas already in Korea are wonderful and much needed in a country that doesn’t boast a whole lot of greenspace. And the people seem to love the end result.