Chapter 9: PCRD (Presidential Commission on Regional Development) and the New Regional Policy
9. PCRD (Presidential Committee on Regional Development) and the new regional policy Harry W. Richardson There is a viable argument that the widely lauded Cheonggyecheon project in Seoul (see Chapter 6) was part of a deliberate plan by the then Mayor Lee Myun-Bak to propel himself into the presidency. Furthermore, the ‘success’ of the project may have influenced the President’s thinking, backed up by his career history, to believe that infrastructure projects are key to effective and popular political action. This accounts for his faith in the original Grand Canal Waterway and its replacement, the Four Rivers Restoration Project, his failure to resolve the US beef import issue that destroyed his honeymoon period, and the neglect of social issues. THE PAN-KOREA GRAND WATERWAY President Lee Myun-Bak made the Pan-Korea Grand Waterway Project the centrepiece of his campaign, although it is now temporarily, perhaps permanently, off the table, scaled back to the less ambitious but still criticized Four Rivers Restoration Project. It is difficult to understand why he wanted to build his campaign platform around the application of an eighteenth-century transportation mode to a twenty-first-century economy. The explanations may be his background in construction together with an almost maniacal belief that government-sponsored public works projects (the ‘bulldozer’ mentality) are the solution to the problems of Korean society, his obsession with water, fueled by the success of his Cheonggyecheon river restoration project, but most of all the influence of Western Europe. He was advised by a German engineer, made a visit to...
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