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
NameSaemangeun reclamation project, South Korea
CountryRepublic of Korea
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 CommoditiesBiological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project Detailsthe 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 (in hectares)400km2
Level of Investment (in USD)$3,000,000,000.00
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected PopulationBuan County, Jeollabuk-do (province)
Start Date01/06/1999
End Date01/06/2010
Relevant government actorsGovernment of South Korea
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersKorean Federation of Environmental Movements (basically FoE). Also grass-roots and local environmental groups. Fisherman and related (aquaculture) Birdskorea, FASS project
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, 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-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseNew Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite activism and much organised protest since 1998 the seawall was built.
Sources and Materials

Article: Ku, D., The Korean Environmental Movement: Green Politics through Social Movement Korea Journal Vol. 44, Nº 3, Autumn 2004.
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For A Sustainable Saemangeum (FASS) - Final Report -
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Reuters. 10. 2008
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Lee says Saemangeum tidal flat to change S. Korea's history
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New York Times 24. 10. 2008
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The Daily Telegraph 12. 05. 2007
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[1] Natural Resources
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Other Documents

View on the Saemangeum tidal flat
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Meta Information
ContributorLouis Lemkow
Last update26/06/2014