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Newly opened reservoirs along the 4 rivers bring new pastimes and possibilities

A couple enjoys the view from the Ipo Reservoir Bridge (Photo: Weekly Gonggam).

In the weeks following the official completion ceremonies of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project thousands of visitors have poured into the newly restored waterways. On the last weekend of October alone, an estimated 8,000 visitors flocked to Ipo Reservoir on the Namhan River. The Seungchon Reservoir on the Yeongsan River saw over 3,000 visitors pass through its grounds.

The Ipo and Seungchon Reservoirs, located in Gyeonggi Province and Gwangju respectively, have long been recognized as the most beautiful of the 16 reservoirs developed under the restoration project. The influx of visitors in recent weeks since the October 22 opening has highlighted not only the popularity of these waterside destinations but also their potential to foster further development of regional economies.

“We are from all over, some from Seoul and some from other cities in Gyeonggi Province,” said amateur photographer An Cheol-gyu, who visited Ipo on October 30 with 20 other members of his photography club. An, who spent most of his day at Ipo behind a camera lens, said that he and the other club members plan to travel to all 16 of Korea’s new weirs and hold shoots at each locale.

Twenty-somethings on dates, large families sitting on the riverbank, and young parents with children in tow are among the various crowds that continue to gather at the Ipo Reservoir since its opening. On a recent holiday weekend, responses of first-time visitors ranged from the keen interest taken by one father-daughter pair in the fishway under the Ipo Bridge, to the chatty musings of another group that the picturesque view would be perfect with some hot coffee, to an enthusiastic pronouncement by one couple that they hoped the place would stay unchanged for the next 100 years.

Na Hui-gyeong, who owns a convenience store on the bank of the Ipo Reservoir, said that she has seen a dramatic increase in weekend profits since the reservoir opened. “I’ve been doing business here for the past six years,” she said. “The remodeling that began six months ago has helped to bring in other businesses too, but most of the restaurants and shops in this area are run by locals. We are benefiting directly from the restoration project.”

At Seungchon Reservoir, a new three-story building with a donut-shaped observation deck has been built alongside various recreational facilities, including a sports complex and courts for badminton and basketball. Husband and wife Park Yong-sae and Choi Jung-ja, who visited the Seungchon Reservoir on November 2 from their home in northern Gwangju, expressed their delight at finding the riverside area and the new park so clean and accessible. They remarked that the unpleasant smell of Yeongsan River in years past had discouraged the idea of visiting the area, but the restoration project has changed the place completely.

The opening of Seungchon Reservoir has also brought steady droves of bicyclists to its waterfront bicycle path. Kim Yong, director of the Yeongsan River restoration project team said that about 500 bicyclists come through Seungchon weir on the weekends and about 200 arrive during the week.

Kwon Jungyun
Korea.net Staff Writer
Article adapted from the Weekly Gonggam Magazine

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