The project is being pushed by President Lee Myung-bak, and he hopes it will serve as his administration's lasting legacy.
"But critics call it a political boondoggle, say it will be an environmental disaster and have sued to stop it. More South Koreans oppose the project than support it. And opponents charge that it is simply a repackaging of Mr. Lee's earlier dream of linking the Han and Nakdong Rivers to create a "Grand Korean Waterway" across the nation, a proposal he abandoned in the face of widespread opposition.
Meanwhile engineers have already begun work to rebuild the Han, Nakdong, Kum and Youngsan Rivers, work that is likely to make Mr. Lee famous or infamous long after his five-year term ends in 2013 and could even determine who succeeds him."