sing it with me (Erie) Canal is rising

One of the things taught by most United States historians is how the railroad surpassed the canal as a means of transportation way back in antebellum days, with a few other improvements in overland transportation since then. (Perhaps you even just immediately thought of the Erie Canal). There was a Canal Age, but it is usually considered to have had a brief heyday of 1820s-1840s or thereabouts.

Maybe someone should tell the Koreans, who are rather unexpectedly looking to dig a canal from Seoul to Busan and points elsewhere...

Lee Myung-bak’s pledge to build a giant cross-country canal project is turning into action. A spokesman for the president-elect’s transition team announced yesterday that meetings about building the artificial waterway that would stretch 540 kilometers (336 miles) between Seoul and Busan have begun.
“Jang Seok-hyo, the head of the grand canal task force, met with executives from five domestic construction companies last month over breakfast to talk about the project,” Kang Seung-kyoo, the deputy spokesman for Lee’s transition team, said yesterday. “The construction heads invited Jang to the meeting.”
The Dec. 30 breakfast meeting was a friendly regular gathering among the presidents of Daewoo Engineering and Construction, Samsung Corporation, GS Enginereering and Construction, Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Daelim Industrial Company. They are the country’s top five domestic construction businesses.
The five tycoons have picked out three or four senior officials from each company to create a joint canal business team to work on a blueprint for the canal, as a prelude to bidding on the project.
The plan so far is that smaller canals connecting the east and west parts of the country will be built with government funds, while the grand canal from Seoul to Busan will be built with private capital.
In an interview, Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Jae-oh, an adviser to the grand canal task force team, also made detailed remarks about the construction timeline.
“If we can start the process right before the general election [in April] we are expecting the actual construction to start in February of 2009,” he said in the interview with Pressian, an Internet-based media outlet.
But the transition team knows its canal plan still faces fierce opposition, and that some view it as bizarre and even environmentally hazardous. They are planning to hold a public forum to discuss the canal with two government-led labs, Korea Development Institute and the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements, next month.
Yu Woo-ik came up with the intitial idea for the canal, which Lee made a centerpiece of his campaign. Yu studied in Germany and witnessed how canals worked in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.


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