Monday, December 14, 2009

Riverkeeper, Seoul Style

President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea has launched an ambitious project to "remake" the country's four longest rivers, after achieving success in uncovering a paved-over and nearly forgotten river during his tenure as mayor of Seoul.  After cleaning it up, the river that Mr. Lee uncovered from a blanket of asphalt runs through central Seoul and counts itself amongst the city's prized landmarks. 

Because of land use issues, President Lee's latest proposal is not without controversy.  On one hand, project supporters (including many residents who live on or near the rivers) argue that the river re-do will improve water quality and supply, help prevent flooding, increase opportunities for recreation (biking and wetlands parks), provide housing, and serve as a model for "green" development.  On the other hand, project opponents (including 400 environmental and other civic groups) have sued to stop it, arguing that the project, if realized, will result in environmental disaster.  Notwithstanding this opposition, prospects for Lee's self-styled "Green New Deal" appear strong.

To read the full story, click here for a link to today's article by Choe Sang-Hun, "Doubts Raised on Ambitious Korean Rivers Project," New York Times (Dec. 14, 2009).

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

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