Published : 2013-10-16 20:02
Updated : 2013-10-16 20:02
A lawmaker has proposed gradually returning a popular artificial creek in downtown Seoul to its natural state, citing high maintenance costs.
Main opposition Democratic Party Rep. Baek Jae-hyun disclosed documents from Seoul Metropolitan Government during the ongoing parliamentary audits showing that over 56.5 billion won ($52.9 million) had been spent on the Cheonggyecheon stream since 2006. Approximately 45 percent of the funds were spent on public servants’ salaries while about 12 percent was used to pay for the creek’s electricity bills.
“That means that over 7.5 billion won ($7.03 million) was spent a year,” said Baek. “This is much more than what Mr. Lee promised when he started building Cheonggyecheon in 2003,” he added.
As Seoul mayor, former President Lee Myung-bak rid Cheonggyecheon of the asphalt roads that had covered it since 1955 and initiated a municipal project to artificially restore the flow of water. According to Baek, Lee had promised only 1.8 billion won ($1.69 million) per annum would be necessary to support the recreational area.
“The current payments Seoul city is making exceed the original promises by more than four times. I think it’s time we consider returning the creek to its original, natural state over the long term,” the lawmaker said.
The Cheonggyecheon stream runs through northern Seoul and used to be an infamous slum in the first half of the 20th century. Today, the waterway has become a popular attraction for couples, families and social events.
Over 158 million visitors have stopped by the walkway since it opened in 2005.