Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Korean Four River Project Controversy

A large part of the Catholic Church in Korea is on record in being against the Four River Project that has been started by the government. There is a great deal of controversy and the country is lining up in camps for and against.

The project got started last month, an attempt to remake the four longest rivers in Korea: the Han, Nakdong, Yeongsan and the Geum. The project is to control flooding and improve quality and supply of water and build new tourist attractions along the waterways besides giving work to many for years to come.

The project will cost $ 19.2 billion dollars. Those who are opposed see it is an ecological disaster. The Catholic movement against the project sees many problems and does not believe it is well conceived. The government did have a plan to build a canal to Pusan that was dropped because of the opposition of the people and many feel the Four River project is a copy of this canal project.

The editorial in the Peace Weekly mentions what the government is saying about the project is not straightforward, verification of the feasibility studies are not known, the opinion of those opposed to the project have not been studied, and the basic itemized cost is not known by the public.

The Church has made clear they are not opposed to human development and good use of natural resources but desire the use of God's creation in a mutually benefiting way, resulting in harmony in the development. Human greed and the principle of economics first, without sufficient reflection, is not in harmony with the Creator and his Providence.

The editorial ends mentioning that one of the reasons for the controversy over the Four River Project is distrust of the government. If this project was truly for the good of the people and the country as the government stated, then even though it would take time, an attempt should have been made to persuade public opinion for the project and get the citizenry on board.

The Bishops of Korea have made this point a number of times before. The government does little in considering the people as educated and entitled to know why a project is deemed necessary and helpful to them and the country. It is top down.The government knows best and goes its merry way. This can also be the way in many other areas of Korean life and is not infrequently found in the Church.

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