Interactive Map: Korea
History of the GND in Korea
Korea’s economy was severely affected by the 2008 Global Financial Crisis. President Lee Myung Bak responded with a KRW 50 trillion (USD 38.1 billion) stimulus package that was called a “Green New Deal” in January 2009. The centrepiece of the Korean GND – the Four Major Rivers Project – was originally allocated almost KRW 14.5 trillion (USD 11.3 billion) or 29 percent of the total package. By the time the project was completed in late 2011, costs had ballooned to KRW 22 trillion (USD 20 billion).The project involved dredging 570 billion m3 of sediment and the creation of 16 dams across the country’s four largest rivers. Three dams were built on the Han River, eight on the Nakdong River, three on the Geum River, and two on the Yeosang River. The government framed the project primarily in terms of climate change adaptation (projection against flooding) but environmentalists viewed it as an ecological disaster. Lee’s presidency was marred by corruption scandals and he is currently serving a 15 year prison sentence.
Despite the problems associated with the 2009 Korean GND, the framing is being employed once again by the current Moon Jae-in administration in its COVID-19 response. The 2020 Korean GND involves an investment of US$61.9 billion in advanced technology sectors like renewable energy, smart grids, micro grids, and electric vehicles with the aim of creating 319,000 jobs by 2022 and 659,000 by 2025. As with the 2009 package, there are questions of how ‘green’ the Korean Green New Deal is.