In a Korea Herald article that appeared March 28, 2013, the controversial 4 Rivers Restoration Project that we saw underway while in South Korea and wrote about in TRAVELING THE 38TH PARALLEL is described as coming under criticism and scrutiny by the new President's administration. "President Park Geun-hye and her officials are openly skeptical toward [former President] Lee’s green packages, saying they were too oriented toward economic growth. They hinted at a shift back to the goal of sustainable development, which Lee had ditched as outdated. Government agencies are investigating the controversial river project over not only its negative impact on water quality but also unsavory ties between the government and contractors"
As Chooney Kim, the KFEM environmental NGO activist, told us when we visited, a time when the construction was still not complete, "The government calls this 'green economy,' but has no concern about the ecology. They just keep construction workers busy, busy, busy." Rather than restoration, the work greatly widened, deepened, and channelized the largest rivers in the nation, including the Han River that passes by Seoul.
Despite such criticism, this news article seems to mourn the loss of the nation's"green growth" program, while it also mentions criticism that the new government has faced by environmental groups for not yet articulating a clear environmental program as a replacement. This week, the international media are all focused on the threats of military action by North Korea, understandably, but this on-going debate over the meanings of "green" and "sustainability" continues, nevertheless.