Korean Govt Plans ‘5 Rivers Project’ Despite ‘4 Rivers’ Wreck

Article from Kyunghyang Shinmun:

Korean Government Deemed Construction of ‘4-Rivers Project’ Poor, Yet Behind the Scenes Pushes Ahead with ‘5-Rivers Project’

A follow up action about 4 Major Rivers Project and a process of expanding the hydrophilic area of 5 major rivers by Park Geun-hye government.

Timeline of action on the 4 Major Rivers Project to the Park government’s process of expanding the hydrophilic area of 5 major rivers.

It has been discovered that while the Korean government was reevaluating the 4 Major Rivers Project completed in 2013, it had also been planning the 5 Major Rivers Project, adding Seomjin River to the 4 major rivers to develop the surrounding area. In public, the government deemed the 4 Major Rivers Project to be of ‘completely poor quality’ but behind the scenes, the government showed a different side, working with local governments to put together a master plan to greatly increase the range of the 5 major rivers’ hydrophilic areas.

Based on national government and local government documents revealed on May 26 by Congressman Lee Mi-kyung, of the National Assembly’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), in May 2013 MOLIT decided to create within the Office of the Prime Minister, a committee to investigate the 4 major rivers project. One month later, MOLIT announced a plan to segment the districts of Korea’s rivers. In July 2013, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) presented the results of the third inspection indicating the government pushed ahead with the 4 Major Rivers Project with the idea of building a Korea Grand Canal in mind. Following this, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) placed a service order with the Korea Institute of Construction Technology (KICT) in regards to the district designation of Korean rivers, and started discussions with other local governments. On December 31, 2014, the KICT submitted the final report to the NTSB showing the range of the 5 major rivers’ hydrophilic areas would be expanded by 1.5 times. Only 8 days after assessing the 4 Major Rivers Project, the BAI pointed out the safety issue and the poor quality of ecological parks in the 4 major rivers, while the NTSB presented an overall 5 major rivers development plan for the surrounding area.

From July 2013 to now, the NTSB hasn’t consulted the Ministry of Environment about their land development and environmental planning while working on expanding the hydrophilic areas of the 5 major rivers. In March 2014, the Ministry of Environment started investigating the ecological park in the 4 major rivers deemed by the 4 Major Rivers’ BAI to be of poor quality.

In response to the May 26th Kyunghyang Sinmun article ‘5 Majors Rivers Project Including Seomjin River Secretly Carried Out, Hydrophilic Areas to Expand by 49%’, the NTSB clarified that it is just a draft, and that 70% of the restored area would be included in the conservation areas and only the remaining 30% would be included in the hydrophilic areas. It admitted its error in the report, stating the hydrophilic area of Seomjin River is 6.32% not 63.2% as was mentioned in the Kyunghyang Sinmun. The NTSB revealed that beginning in 2016, it will apply the result of the district selection to all of the rivers in Korea.

Environmental groups and experts say that even though the the Seomjin River’s hydrophilic area will be reduced, the Korean government’s plan will dramatically expand the 5 major rivers’ hydrophilic areas overall by 1.5 times, from 24.24% to 37%. Hwang Incheol, the Team Leader of the Peaceful Ecology Department at Green Korea United, said “Despite NTSB guidelines, they only decided to install the basic equipment necessary for river maintenance, including sign boards and CCTV. From the outset, the restoration area should be considered together with the conservation area.” He also said, “The government will sacrifice water quality if they expand the hydrophilic area of Nakdong River to more than twice the size and if they more than quadruple the size of the Yeongsan River and Seomjin River.

Comments from Daum:


With only one person wrongly elected as the president, the whole country has been wrecked.


Punish the mad Mouse Lee and Chicken Park government, trying to make money by digging up Korean rivers that are all fine.

관악산 도인님

From ancient times, a river has been the lifeblood of living things. Now the river is not able to flow, and is dying.

희망 나눔님

A country that deceives the people. They are doing what they want after winning the election.


Take whatever you want till the whole country is destroyed.


People who graduated from Dongji Commercial High School with MB.. This just makes me laugh.


There is a reason why people say Lee Myeong-bak-Geun-hye. There’s no difference though whether it is a mouse or a chicken.


Is it a country? The president was wrongfully elected, so the media, jurisdiction and politics are all being thrown away. People in their 20s to 40s please remember to vote and people in their 50s to 70s, please vote with common sense and your children in mind. Because of Mouse Lee and Chicken Park, justice has disappeared in Korea!!~~


Neighboring country Japan has armies that possess the highest tech weapons, China is creating and exporting the world’s fastest subway but Korea is pouring money into the rivers. Korea is on its way to failure…


What the heck are they talking about!!!


Shouldn’t the president be impeached?


What are we supposed to do with that bitch and jerk? Eo-hyu..damn it


Who else could do that….this is why Korea is shit


The government that deceives its people cannot be called the government but just a dirty bug that is wasting rice.


Crazy people, who can say you are not out of your mind? How many more days of craziness till you are back to normal? Insane people.


Are they able to think properly after drinking water from Nakdonggang?


Fire the NTSB.


Myeongbak is loyal as he left something that the next person can take advantage of.


They know what makes money..

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  • commander

    * What are hydrophillic areas?

    The center-left leaning newspaper, Kyunghyang Shinmun, the source of the original article, provided what I think is a fairly unfamilir concept to readers with respect to President Lee Myung-bak’s signature Four River Project.

    The original article mentioned 친수지구, translated here as “hydrophilic areas,” without a detailed account of what it meant by that, one of the bad practices that have been commonly found in Korea’s journalism that don’t offer descriptions of a new word or concept even when they first introduce them to readers.

    In an attempt to help readers’ understanding, I provide some account of hydrophillic areas, based on Internet encyclopedia ( which has the link, written in Korean, here at http://m.terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=1720742&cid=43667&categoryId=43667)

    The current affairs encyclopedia states that hydrophillic areas refer to ones surrounding the four rivers in Mr. Lee’s refurbishment project.

    Enacted in Dec. 29 in 2010 and came into force from Apr. 30 in 2011, “Special Act for Hydrophillic Area Utilization” allows the development of the lands for the purpose of residence, commerce, industry, culture, leisure and sightseeing.

    In short, the act permits the commerical use of the lands surrounding the four rivers).

    ( Conventionally, the commercially-motivated use of lands near rivers has not been allowed. )

    So there has been an acrimonious debate over the hydrophillic areas.

    The proponents of the Four River Project claim that carving out hydrphillic areas is necessary to develop those areas methodically and prevent a possible sprawling developement.

    Opponents, that is environemtalists and civic activist groups, contend that by allowing for commerical use of the lands, the Lee administration sought to recoup taxpayers’ money injected in the project and that it will exacerbate environmental degaradation, which has been worsening after the Four River Project left flow in four rivers slow, making the water quality deteriorating.

    Between the two sides, the encyclopedia upheld the hands of the oppoents when it says that hydrophillic areas are ultimately designed to recover ₩8 trillion, (roughly US$8 billion) in four river project expenses to confer commercial use to the designated areas.

    • 금정산

      Excellent summary.

      I love you.

      • commander

        Thank you for compliments. I’m flattered!

    • Xman2014

      However the truth is, it stopped the annual floods in South Korea that had plagued the country, every single year for 70 years. The average damage done to the farmlands and cities were $1 billion each year. They spent $30 billlion to stop this once and for all. We’ve not heard about a flood in Korea the last five years, since the project completed. I’ll take that.

      • commander

        The truth, mentioned by critics but often disregarded by supporters, is that the the project spawned massive algae in rivers, leaving huge amount of fish to death with shortage of oxygen, among bad ecological effects.

        Let’s just put aside the huge sume of money used in the project primarily flew into some firms, fattening their pokets.

        The truth is that some installations built for the project is shoddy, requiring huge repair for operation, an national audit report says.

        The reason supposed annual routine flood didn’t happen over the padt few years is that climatic change is presumed to play a role because there is a deacreade in precipitation during summers, which is quite an anomaly. So it is hard to credit the absense of floods with the four river project.

  • faves_slayer

    ” People in their 20s to 40s please remember to vote and people in their 50s to 70s, please vote with common sense and your children in mind.”


    • commander

      The corresponding part of the original text follows:

      ” 20~40대 분들도 투표 꼭 하시고 50~70대분들도 상식적인 부분과 자식들과 손주들을 위해 잘 생각해서 투표해 주세요!”

      Thus, a more approriate translation is:

      “People in their 20s to 40s, be sure to cast a ballot (in a presidential poll) and those in their 50s to 70s, please make a sensible vote for your offspring’s future (in a presidential election)”

      • Xman2014

        Where are you getting that from? More accurately, it’s saying to vote Socialist next time otherwise you’re being dumb and unreasonable.

        • commander

          If you click on the source, indicated in blue at the start of netizens’comment, you can see the original text for the traslation comments.

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  • ShootehAnon

    The project itself sounded like bullshit from the start. These people just don’t care about the future of their country, as long as it “promises” money and profit.

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