The final plan calls for 30 percent of the 401 square kilometres (160 square miles) to be used for farming, a sea change from its original plan to use the entire area for agriculture.
The remaining 70 percent would eventually be developed and include a "premium multi-functional city" with a new harbour and airport.
Kwon Tae-Shin, minister in the prime minister's office, said Saemangeum would serve as "Northeast Asia's new growth engine" under the project, which he said would require a time span of 50 to 100 years to be fully completed.
"Approximately a quarter of Saemangeum will be developed into a global business hub and a beautiful waterside leisure city that comes second to Venice and Amsterdam," the minister said.
. . .
Environmentalists say the project deprives migratory birds of a key habitat and poses water pollution risks.
Yes, me and others have noted the irony of Korea hosting international conferences promoting wetland conservation while destroying its own. In fact, here are some of the plans for the area, as related in an International Herald Tribune article last fall:
[Developers] will replace natural wetlands with artificial ones and turn riverbeds into lakes. They will build a park along the road on the sea dyke and try to attract tourists with a theme park, convention center and even perhaps a casino.
I'll note again what the Minister of the Environment said ahead of the much-anticipated RAMSAR Convention in Korea last fall. The Minister
adapted his pragmatism to the ``wise use of wetlands,'' the No.1 priority of the Ramsar Convention. ``What must be protected must be protected, but it would be even better if wetlands are utilized as eco-tourism sites because that could result in not only their protection but also the revitalization of the local economy,'' he said.
Certainly not conserving the land for the sake of conservation. If a tree falls in the forest, but there are no tourist hotels or casinos or theme parks to notice, does it make a sound? Well, if this city ever gets built, and if I live long enough to see it become "Northeast Asia's new growth engine," I'll add it to my list of "Korea's __________," which includes Korea's Naples, Korea's Hawaii, and Korea's Bangalore.