|제목||Urgent Appeal on Protection of Ecosystems in South Korea|
Urgent Appeal on Protection of Ecosystems in South Korea
The Eco-Community Movement Center of the Presbyterian Church of ROK (PROK) has been praying and working for the realization of God’s life, peace, and justice in South Korea. We, the members of the Center, earnestly appeal to our Christian sisters and brothers throughout the world to join our prayer for preventing the destruction of the ecosystems of South Korea and for protecting the integrity of God’s creation.
South Koreans live and engage in economic activities around four major rivers. These rivers are the Han River in the Metropolitan area, Geum River in the central area, Nakdong River in the Southeast area, and Yeongsan River in the Southwest area of South Korea. They are called the 4 Big Rivers. Rivers are the main sources of life and culture. The devastation of rivers brings about an irreversible disaster to people and nature as a whole. An enormous amount of time and effort is needed to revive devastated nature. We who believe in God, the Creator therefore confess that the most important mission given to the South Korean churches in this time is to protect the ecosystems in South Korea that have been subjected to human greed and violated by heavy machines.
The Lee Myung-Bak government launched the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project in November 2009 and has been pushing the project hard disregarding the strong opposition of people. Many concerned people from both religious and academic sectors as well as a number of ordinary citizens have been strongly opposing the project for the following reasons.
1. The Four Major Rivers Restoration Project is alleged to be the pre-stage of the Korea Grand Canal Project that was officially abandoned by the government when faced with the strong opposition of the majority of the country’s citizens. The government changed the project title but in reality is continuing the canal project. The government did not take necessary democratic procedures in implementing the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project which is a mega-size national construction project. This project requires USD19 billion only for the construction and USD77.7 billion of budget in total. 70% of the people oppose the project but the government has been implementing the project without considering peoples’ concerns. The government has neither asked the opinion of people nor taken the appropriate procedures of technical studies and environmental impact assessments.
2. The core work of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project is to dredge up mud at the bottom of the rivers and build big underwater riverbed sills. A river is not simply a container of water but a living space where diverse and precious species are connected with one another and sustain their lives. Heavy machines dredging up an enormous amount of mud from the bottom of the rivers threaten the survival of all the species under and around the rivers. 9-meter high riverbed sills will be built under the water and the areas beside the rivers will be covered with concrete. All these are crimes against life that destroy ecosystems and disturb the integrity of God’s creation. Many industrialized countries that have built dams and riverbed sills are now removing concrete covers and restoring rivers to their original conditions. The South Korean government, however, is implementing a project that contradicts this world trend toward protecting life and nature.
Destroyed ecosystems are not restored in a day. Nobody living this time has a right to destroy ecosystems. Nature does not belong to anybody. Nature is where we find God’s nurturing and we have to pass it on intact to the next generations because all of life depends on nature.
3. The Lee Myung-Bak government has been excessively obsessed with the Four Rivers Restoration Project in spite of the strong opposition of most people. Many people are getting more persuaded that the government’s intention is not to control seasonal floods and prepare for drought but only to benefit a few constructionists. In fact, the president’s close high-school friends received 8 construction orders out of 9 in the Nandong River area. This fact backs the suspicion (enough) that the government designed the project with a highly maneuvered political intent to distribute the inestimable profit from the mega construction project among the supporters of the government.
The Presbyterian Church of ROK has announced statements several times together with other civil and religious organizations pointing out the injustice, anti-democratic and anti-life nature of the Four Rivers Restoration Project. The PROK has organized prayer meetings to stop the project and protect God’s creation. People in the prayer meetings asked for God’s help and guidance. In particular, during Lent this year we, members of the Eco-Community Movement Center, built a hut in a nearby area of the Han River which is one of the Four Rivers, and for 45 days one person each day in rotation fasted and prayed there. This fasting-and-praying campaign was taken over by other Christian and environmental organizations and continued until early June. We organized fasting vigils in the center of Seoul, the capital of South Korea, together with other denominations and Christian organizations. We resumed the fasting-and-praying campaign in the hub of the city nearby the Han River on June 8th and will continue the campaign until we reach 100 days.
Catholics, Buddhists, and other religious people as well as Protestants have been strongly opposing the Four Rivers Restoration Project and making efforts to preserve the ecosystems in South Korea. We will do our best to stop all anti-life activities and protect the ecosystems in South Korean which are created by God in solidarity with all conscientious religious and civil organizations.
South Korea had local elections in June this year that were considered as a mid-term evaluation of the government. Peace in the Korean peninsula and the issue of the Four Rivers Restoration Project were among the most important factors that influenced people’s choices. The results showed a crushing defeat of the ruling party. In spite of the results of local elections, the Lee Myung-Bak government is continuing the project without any reluctance. We confront this reckless power that tries to destroy all God’s creatures and earnestly appeal to our Christian sisters and brothers throughout the world to pray with us and support us in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord of life.
Eco-Community Movement Center
Presbyterian Church of Republic of Korea