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Saemangeun reclamation project, South Korea


Saemangeum Seawall was built in a tidal flat zone on the Yellow Sea (The world's second largest tidal flat). The seawall is 33 miles long. At an opening ceremony, incumbent president Lee, Myung-Bak has commented that Saemangeum would be “. . . the kernel and the gateway of South Korea’s west coast industrial belt,” and is “another effort by us for low-carbon and green growth, along with the four-river project.” [1] The barrier was then used to reclaim land by filling.The newly reclaimed land to be used for industrial activity (the region has little), golf courses and water treatment plants.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Saemangeun reclamation project, South Korea
Country:Republic of Korea
State or province:Jaellabuk-do
Location of conflict:Saemangeun
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Fish
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details

the reclaimed area is approximately 400km2 which will be used for agricultura, industrial activities and sporting/receational activities such as golf. The seawall reduced the coastline from 100kms to 33 kms.

Project area:400km2
Level of Investment:$3,000,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:Buan County, Jeollabuk-do (province)
Start of the conflict:01/06/1999
End of the conflict:01/06/2010
Relevant government actors:Government of South Korea
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Korean Federation of Environmental Movements (basically FoE). Also grass-roots and local environmental groups. Fisherman and related (aquaculture) Birdskorea, FASS project
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite activism and much organised protest since 1998 the seawall was built.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

For A Sustainable Saemangeum (FASS) - Final Report -
[click to view]
[click to view]

Article: Ku, D., The Korean Environmental Movement: Green Politics through Social Movement Korea Journal Vol. 44, Nº 3, Autumn 2004.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

New York Times 24. 10. 2008
[click to view]

The Daily Telegraph 12. 05. 2007
[click to view]

Reuters. 10. 2008
[click to view]

[1] Natural Resources
[click to view]

Lee says Saemangeum tidal flat to change S. Korea's history
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Louis Lemkow
Last update18/08/2019
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