In a densely populated country like Korea, land is very valuable. Many efforts have been made over the years to “eclaim”land from the sea. Dikes and other protective embankments are placed in shallow areas off the coast to reduce tidal and wave erosion and enable sediment to be deposited in estuaries and along the coastline. This allows large areas of once-shallow seas to be turned in to agricultural lands and building sites. The largest land reclamation project in Korea, and indeed in the world, is the Saemangeum Reclamation Project, which began in 1991 and was completed in 2006. The total length of the embankment is 33.9 km. 28,300 hectares of land and 11,800 hectares of lake were created from the project.
The images here show how the area has changed as a result of the project from 1990 to 2015. Current plans are for six types of land to be developed: industrial/research, international cooperation, tourism/leisure, agricultural, urban, and nature/ecosystem. The Saemangeum project is expected to help the local economy by extending its land, creating rich agricultural space, securing water resources, and creating a tourism district. Some problems have arisen during the development process, including damage to mud flats and water pollution. Restoring coastal ecosystems is an essential task in order to maintain ecological integrity of the shores and to promote further economic sustainability.