Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Bulldozer Canal

President-elect-and-under-judicial-threat LEE Myung-bak confirmed his ambition to build a canal joining the Han and the Nakdong rivers during his first (and theorically only, unless he also manages to remodel the constitution) mandate.

One more project on the Seoul - Busan axis ? I'd rather see Korea build a circular bullet train line to balance the country's infrastructures with a milder impact on the environment. Or even better, invest in the much needed restoration of Seoul's subway stations, many of which are plagued with asbestos dust falls (30% of Seoul Metro's employees are rumored to be suffering from this cancerous material).

As the name of his Cyworld blog shows*, "Bulldozer" LEE is ambitious : one year to plan, three years to build (2009-2011), and one year to campaign for a second term. Not much time to think and plenty of time to sink ?

The former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction wants his pharaonic project to be 100% financed by private companies. All chaebols have already been invited to a roundtable, and Middle East investors are likely to pour the bulk of the $15 bn announced.

A quick reality check already showed the actual number would be triple that... and a tedious real estaty check would probably multiply it tenfold.

A streamlet as a Mayor, a canal as a President... should LEE become the next BAN Ki-moon, he'd probably dig a new ocean or at least an Asian equivalent to the Mediterranean sea.


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