What happened in August 2003?

  • 30 August:

    Glen Barry's "Environmentalsustainability Blog" in the US posts a short essay by US activist John Borowski. We've re-printed this thoughtful piece (with permission): go to Paving Paradise?

    Birds Korea News Release for August 25th now available. Please mail Birds Korea if you'd like a copy.

  • 25 August:

    Ma Jong-un of KFEM, has told Birds Korea that KFEM photographed rocks being dumped below the water mark in gaps in the sea dyke on Saturday. This appears to be in clear contradiction of the court ruling that construction must halt immediately.

    KFEM made a press release on Sunday, and the story was covered by the Hangyoreh Newspaper today.

    The court hearing - started two days earlier than previously announced by the Government - is continuing late into the night today. No court announcement is expected yet.

    KFEM today released a letter from the Hon Dr David Kemp MP, The Australian Government's Minister of State for the Environment and Heritage, supporting opposition to the Saemangeum reclamation project.

    One sentence of this hugely important letter says:" ...Australia has made diplomatic and official representations to express concern about the Saemangeum tidal flat reclamation".

    It is to be hoped that other international Governments will follow the lead taken by the Australians, and state their concern to the Korean Government also.

    View Dr Kemp's letter

  • 24 August:

    Three images taken in June 2003 newly available to the media. Preparing a media release or story on Saemangeum? Full-size (72dpi 1.04mb 700 pixel width) versions of the thumbs below are available. Please mail Birds Korea

    Taken just before completion of the "4th Sea Wall", Saemangeum.
    Photo © Korean Confederation of Trade Union, June 9.

    Simon Bevilacqua, a journalist from The Sunday Tasmanian newspaper in Hobart,Tasmania, Australia has written an article, "Awaiting sound of birds' survival call", on the Saemangeum reclamation project and its impact on Australia and Tasmania's migratory waders.

    Go to www.themercury.news.com.au/common/story_page.

  • 22 August:

    Ramsar General-Secretary Peter Bridgewater today sent a diplomatic note protesting the reclamation to the Korean Government via the Korean permanent mission to the UN in Geneva. (Thanks to Dr Lei Guangchun, Ramsar's Regional Co-ordinator for Asia, for this information)

    Reports of the Embassy visit in Seoul (see below) have been covered by Korea's Yonhap News Agency; on the MSN (Korea) news home-page; and it was the front page story in Focus - a free media outlet with a very large circulation.

    Birds Korea's Nial Moores conducted a 1-hour telephone interview with Nature Magazine (Tokyo office) about Saemangeum.

    IUCN have also now voiced very strong criticism of the project.

    John Wall, webmaster of the campaigning website "WorldTwitch" has posted an excellent update on the Saemangeum campaign. Go to worldtwitch.virtualave.net/environmental_news.

    Allan Archer, conservationist and webmaster of the website talk:Wildlife has posted an excellent update. Go to www.talkwildlife.citymax.com.

    Jamie Newlin, a campaigner from El Paso, Texas, has sent out alerts to meetings and societies to help spread the protests through the USA.

  • August 21:

    Paula Palmer, Global Response: "The Colorado Coalition for Peace and Justice is featuring the Saemangeum campaign and the practice of 3 Steps 1 Deep Bow on their new website. See http://www.coloradopeace.org/AroundTheState/

  • August 20th:

    Birds Korea representative Nial Moores, Seo Joo Won, The General Secretary of KFEM (with ca 87 000 members), and Choi Seung Guk, Vice Secretary General of Green Korea United (with ca 15 000 members) today met CHUNG Rae-kwon, of the International and Economic Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Seoul at 10:30 local time (see image below).

    They handed in the first 5 000 signatures from our petition, signed letters of protest and concern, and explained why the international community is protesting the Saemangeum reclamation.

    In a very interesting response, Director-General CHUNG stated that letters of protest,or more importantly, official approaches from eg the Ramsar Bureau (Korea is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention) or overseas Government staff would send a very clear message that international disapproval needs to be listened to.

    Director-General CHUNG also appeared very shaken to learn that the Saemangeum project and the failure to abide by International Conventions that Korea has signed is now impacting on Korea's image overseas.

    New image available to media. Preparing a media release or story on Saemangeum? A full-size version of the thumb below is available. Please mail Birds Korea

    Co-Secretary General CHI Seung Kook of Green Korea United discusses the court case and the international protests with Director-General of the International Economic Affairs Bureau CHUNG Rae-Kwan. Photo © Nial MOORES.

  • August 19th:

    Co-ordinating with KFEM, on 19th August at 17:00 local time Charlie Moores of Birds Korea, Dr Nigel Collar, Chairman of the Oriental Bird Club, Alan Sharpe, Finance Director of the RSPB (the issue is increasingly being taken up by local branches of the RSPB), Gareth Gardiner-Jones of Birdlife International, and Hannah Griffiths of Friends of the Earth presented signed letters of protest, the Birds Korea/KFEM petition to date, and the Birds Korea "Birds of South Korea" video to HAN Sung Rae at the Korean Embassy in London.

    Support for the work of KFEM and for the "Stop Saemangeum" campaign was voiced, as well as the delegation's respect for the Korean people and for Korea.

    Mr HAN accepted the letters, petition, and video, and assured the delegation that details of our visit would be sent to the appropriate Ministries in Seoul this week. Mr HAN, who lives in Gunsan City close to the Saemangeum reclamation, thanked us for coming.

    View BirdLife International's letter

    View Friends of the Earth's letter

    View Oriental Bird Club's letter

    Friends of the Earth-US hand delivered letters of concern to the South Korean Embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday, August 19th.

    View Friends of the Earth-US's letter

    The American Bird Conservancy's Mike Parr told us, "ABC letter sent today to the Korean Ambassador and copied to John Turner, Assistant Secretary of Oceans and International Scientific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. We have already heard back that the Embassy in Seoul will look into the matter...."

    Other American organizations that have shown strong support for South Korean people opposing the reclamation include the Sierra Club, Global Response, and the American Birding Association. Communications have also been received by key researchers in the US's government's Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • August 14th:

    Bernadette O'Leary of WWF Australia delivered a "Save Saemangeum" petition with 3,220 signatures (collected through WWF's "Panda Passport" scheme) to the Korean Embassy in Canberra at 11am today , along with a signed letter from WWF-Australia CEO Mark Butcher.

    Copies have also been sent to South Korean President Roh, and the Ministers for the Environment and for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

    Wetlands International-Oceania, Birds Australia and WWF have also collaborated on a press release.

    View WWF-Australia's letter

Royal Forest and Birds (with 40 000 members) has been helping to lead protests within New Zealand, along with the Australasian Wader Studies Group members and the Miranda Naturalist's Trust where many of Saemangeum's Bar-tailed Godwits spend the northern winter.

Royal Forest and Birds has lobbied the New Zealand government to raise the issue through diplomatic channels with South Korea, and are also discussing sending an official delegation to the South Korean embassy in Wellington.

Whilst Korean NGOs have played the leading role in getting Saemangeum reported within Korea (Saemangeum is now one of Korea's most protested-about issues), there are NO international NGOs working in Korea, therefore Birds Korea has been working to promote awareness of Saemangeum internationally and to involve conservation groups worldwide.

We have now had detailed contact with groups in Australia, New Zealand, USA, and the UK:

  • WWF-Australia launched a petition to "Save Saemangeum" under their Panda Passport scheme, and WWF featured Samangeum on their home page in mid-August (see above).

  • Since July Global Response have hosted a protest letter aimed at President ROH. On Aug 11th they sent out an e-mail alert with the latest updates and asking recipients to sign the Birds Korea petition.

  • The American Birding Association's Paul Baicich has included an article on Saemangeum and a link to our petition in the new ABA e-newsletter, which goes out across the USA

  • The latest edition of "The Tattler", the newsletter of the Australasian Waders Study Group, contains an article on Saemangeum and a link to our petition

  • August 12th's e-newsletter from EcologyFund.com contained a summary of the Saemangeum issue, and a link to our petition. The URL is http://www.ecologyfund.com/ecology/email_news_tues.html (With thanks to Allan Archer of talk:Wildlife - www.talkwildlife.co.uk)

Other updates either written by Birds Korea or supporters of the campaign include: