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Tourism threatens Dong River

Posted July. 18, 2000 13:48,   


Tourism threatens Dong RiverSince the cancellation for construction of a dam June 5, the ecology of the Dong River is being destroyed with visits by growing number of tourists for the summer vacation.There have been no successive measures taken by the government following cancellation the dam project, and some business people are taking advantage of the opportunity to make money.These days, an average of 1,000 people are visiting the Dong River on weekdays, and the number of visitors soars to 3,000 to 6,000 on weekends. On July 16, as many as 15,000 tourists came from around the country, and the riverside area was full of tourist buses.A total of 60 rafting companies are registered in the three counties of Youngwol, Pyongchang and Jungsun. The number has increased 20-fold from only three operators two years ago. There are 440 registered boats, but the number is much higher than that because there are numerous illegally operated boats.The Water Safety Leisure Law is the only law regulating rafting tourists along the river, and that law has nothing to do with protecting the environment. The law prohibits access by boat to areas other than departing and arriving spots. However, most boats stop in prohibited areas and unload passengers.¡°When many boats are floating on the river, they fill the whole river so fishes can hardly come out to the surface of the water,¡± Um Sam-Yong, 33, head of the secretariat of the Dong River Preservation Center in Youngwol, said. ¡°In particular, rafting during the spawning season will completely destroy the growth environment for fry.¡±He noted that the nation opposed building a dam on the river because it is Korea`s last hidden spot with natural scenery and is an ecological treasure-house.¡°If it is left as it is now, the whole ecological system of the river will be destroyed before the government designates the area as a district for ecological tourism or environmental protection," Um worried.