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A Lesson from the Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project

This Korean tale of an ancient stream which got paved over to make a freeway, before becoming a nightmare of congestion and stress for inhabitants, and then being painstakingly restored, at great expense, back into a stream and pedestrian zone again, is an excellent case for permaculture observation, planning, ethics and design.


  1. Sounds like they’re pumping water to make this stream flow. Not exactly the epitome of permaculture, imho.

  2. Too true JBob. There’s lots wrong with this project. I wasn’t holding it up as an example of permaculture design, but more that the whole situation makes a serious case for the need of observation and permaculture design. i.e. they’ve taken a free flowing stream, paved it over in the name of ‘progress’ and made a highway (at great expense in cost and energy), then realised that was a daft thing to do, and so spent even more money and energy trying (but not necessarily succeeding) to put it back the way it was before.

    It’s just a case for observing, and applying holistically-grounded design and ethics from the outset, and not just forging ahead blindly.

  3. Agreed. It is a monumental waste of resources worthy of study. Destroy a functional natural system to build an expensive artificial one that everybody hates, then spend gobs more taxpayer money to turn it back in to a Disneyfied version of its original self.

  4. if I understand correctly this was a claim to fame of the current president when he was mayor of Seoul. Do you guys know of the current 4 rivers project to build a shipping canal the length of the country. goodness knows how much it will cost and how much devastation it will bring to local areas of wildlife and whole villages being uprooted and flooded out. A humungous financial and environmental cost for what benefit I as yet can’t appreciate. but by then he won’t be president anymore and all the kickbacks would have been had. Oh well …

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