The Metamorphosis of the Rivers of Dreams
The Metamorphosis of the Rivers of Dreams
  • Ryan Schuster
  • 승인 2010.02.28 20:17
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An artist’s impression of the Nakdong River in 2012

Baek Nam-jun proclaimed, "Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is good. You cannot deny that high-tech is progress. We need it for jobs. Yet if you make only high-tech, you make war. So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life." How true this is because of now, the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project will use IT technology in river restoration, especially in securing water resources, controlling floods, improving water quality and the ecosystem and developing multi-use areas around the rivers. The intention of the project is to push forward for a low-carbon green growth environment and health insurance , which the government aims to have completed by 2012. Thereby, the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project can be summed up by "Green New Deal."

The Green New Deal is striving to push forward on the vitalization of the Four Major Rivers and the major rivers are the Han River, Geum River, Nakdong River, and Yeongsan River. The eco-friendly Green New Deal will enrich the quality of life in four key areas. The first area is to have plentiful water and mitigate water scarcity. The second is to make a stable supply for clean water. The third is ecosystem conservation.  The fourth is to vitalize green transportation such as the use of bicycles.

Nakdong River is the 'Economy River', which is home to migrating birds and fish.  In the past decade the Nakdong River has caused KRW 67 trillion in property damage. With its narrow width, the upper areas of the river suffer drought while the lower area is subjected to floods. Nakdong River will be the birth of the project, which will transcend the local landscape to revive the ecosystem and prevent natural disasters.

Han River will be the 'Happiness River', which will showcase and promote the true beauty of the capital. Before the transformation in the last 20 years, the frequency of heavy rainfall has escalated by 73 percent. Due to the increase in floods the recovery costs will be staggering. After the transformation a waterslide and recreation belt will be built along the river by building weirs targeted at preventing floods.

Geum River is the 'Culture River', which will revitalize the wonders of an ancient civilization of the Baekje Kingdom. Before the restoration there are repeated droughts, floods and lack of drinking water. Plus, ecological degradation is destroying the local beauty of the area. After the restoration the government will transform Geum River into a world-class cultural and historical tourism hotspot.

Yeongsan River will be the "Ecosystem River", which the surrounding area will be reborn as an eco-friendly haven. Before the transformation the river has been contaminated by garbage and toxins from nearby factories. After the transformation the government will improve the quality of the drinking water. Also, ancient boats called 'hwangpo dotbae' will crisscross the length of the river carrying tourists.

The Four Major River Restoration wants to react against chronic flood and climate change, which will ensure the Four Major Rivers will remain healthy and to preserve-conservation. One of the key challenges of the Four Major River Restoration is implementing comprehensive flood control measures. Shim Myung-Pil, Minister, the Office of National River Restoration under the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs addressed this challenge by saying, "Additional dredging and installation of small dams were required to address recurring floods and droughts caused by climate change. Also, further improvements were required to reflect local proposals and sentiments expressed at public hearings." A report by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) stated that Korea's Green New Deal is aimed at overcoming the economic crisis and creating new jobs. And The Four Major Rivers Restoration Project is an effective means of not only preserving the ecosystem, but also responding to ongoing climate change."

In a Presidential address by Lee Myung-bak he said, "... Green growth with enable a 'Miracle on the Korean Peninsula' to succeed 'Miracle on the Han River' ... R&D investments in green technology will more than double, thereby making Korea a leading powerhouse in the green technology market." The government will invest KRW 18 trillion into the revival of the Four Major Rivers. This will create 280,000 jobs by 2012 and 96 percent of the jobs being created is for engineering work. It is expected that the project will help operate rivers more efficiently, prevent floods and other natural disasters and thereby people's lives will be revolutionized by green growth

Like a phoenix, Korea has risen from the ashes and through which the nation has soared out of the Korean War and economic crises. Thus, once the Four Major River Restoration Project is completed it will transcend Korea into the heart of low-carbon green growth for the eyes of the world to see. This will definitely be the marriage between half technology and half nature and thereby serve as a model worldwide.

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