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Government to refurbish underused parks near four major rivers

The government will inspect and refurbish some 300 underused riverside parks and sports facilities built along the country’s four major rivers, turning some of them back into farmland. 

One of the underused riverside park built in 2008. (Yonhap) 
One of the underused riverside park built in 2008. (Yonhap) 

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said Wednesday it would inspect 297 riverside parks created in 2008 under the four rivers development project, which was conceived and pushed by former President Lee Myung-bak. 

The 22 trillion won ($19.6 billion) project required the rebuilding of 87 old dams, the construction of 16 new ones and the reinforcement of some 300 kilometers of riverbank. It aimed to prevent water shortages, improve water quality and create riverside tour spots, but critics say it was a failure that caused damage to the environment.

As part of a plan to foster riverside tourism, some 3.1 trillion won was injected to set up a total of 357 riverside parks by the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Youngsan rivers.

The ministry’s decision to inspect and refurbish the parks came amid concerns over excessive maintenance cost as well as calls to remove the “hideous” parks by the river, officials said.

Authorities estimate between 500 billion won and 1 trillion won is spent annually for the maintenance of these underused parks. 

Over the next eight months, the ministry will inspect 181 community parks, 42 sports parks and 67 ecological parks, and either remove them or convert them to farmland, based on an analysis of the frequency they are visited by nearby residents. 

In June, the Board of Audit and Inspection said it would probe the four rivers development project, a legacy of former President Lee, following President Moon Jae-in’s order in May.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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