South Korea's new president has proposed the engineering and construction of a huge cross-country canal -- a plan he hopes will revive much of the country's depressed villages and offer an attractive venue for tourists and shipping companies.
"Like the weed-infested, rusting railroad tracks that run through here, this once prosperous mining town was left behind in South Korea's economic growth - until President Lee Myung-bak began pitching the country's most ambitious, and controversial, construction project."
"If Mr. Lee's plan goes through, the craggy mountains where miners once dug for coal will offer a new source of income: tourists sailing down a waterway blasted though the hills."
"Mungyong lies midway along the proposed Grand Korean Waterway, a 336-mile canal that would cut diagonally across the country between Seoul and Pusan, South Korea's two largest cities. Mr. Lee, who took office last month, said he hoped to complete it during his five-year term."
"The most challenging engineering work will take place around Mungyong. Once the project is completed, engineers say, freight barges and tourist boats either will be lifted through the mountains on a skyway of locks and lifts, or cruise underground through a 13-mile tunnel."