Turn DMZ Into a Canal
President Lee Myung-bak has ordered the government to research the feasibility of turning the DMZ into a canal.
The directive has shocked government officials and civic groups who advocate making the border zone an eco-peace belt.
Lee issued the canal instruction in a meeting when the eco-peace concept was being explained to him by the Minister of Public Administration and Security, Lee Dal-gon (no relation). According to a transcript of the meeting President Lee became upset because he thought Minister Lee was trying to take credit for the green plan.
``I want to designate the DMZ as a park for inter-Korean cooperation, international peace and protection of rare wildlife and the natural environment," the Minister said.
``It is wanted."
``By the people.
``Aren't we at war with North Korea?"
``Well, technically, we and the Democratic People's ..."
``Technically? Will you provide sand along the DMZ?"
``Yes, so people can come and stick their heads in it," President Lee said. ``You have to make peace before you build a peace park, not the other way around. And what's peaceful about leaving it to brown bears and lynx? They're more vicious than North Koreans."
``It's just a name," Minister Lee replied. ``It's more eco than peace, really. You know, flowers and grass. Many foreigners support it. Ted Turner suggested it."
``Who's he? What has he built?
``He's the chairman of the United Nations Foundation. He suggested the peace park. Our whole plan here, and if you give me a few minutes I'd like to explain it in more detail to you, is to host a United Nations peace conference and build an international peace-themed university so that the DMZ can be a model for peace and admired by foreigners."
``What are you talking about? The DMZ is the world's last cold war frontier, not a peace park. And what's the point of another university? We've already got hundreds and our students still go abroad to study ..."
Minister Lee (interrupting): ``The eco-peace park and university will attract students and tourists, which will boost the border counties in Gyeonggi and Gangwon provinces. We also want to attract high-tech display devices, new material and renewable energy industries to the area. We'll build a bicycle path along the Civilian Control Line here (pointing at map) below the DMZ and connect roads and railways across the border and a bridge from Incheon International Airport to Haeju in North Korea."
``Whoa! Hold your Equuses, buster. Are there any rivers there?"
``Is it silted?"
``I don't know."
``Are there other rivers?"
``I haven't been informed of any."
President Lee (standing up): ``Then we should make them. I will build a canal the length of the DMZ. We can link the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan."
Unnamed aide: ``Dong Sea, sir. It's the Dong Sea in Korean. The other one is the Seo Sea." ("Dong" means east; "seo" means west ― Ed). ``If we can't connect North and South during my administration, let's connect Dong and Seo."
``But the rivers flow North and South. If you let the sea water in it will pollute our rivers."
``Why are you bureaucrats so negative? You should have training at a chaebol. If the rivers get salty, we will clean them up. We can call it the 38 Great Canal and the More Rivers Restoration Project. We should put the word 'peace' in there to keep the civic groups happy if you like."
``We can call it MB Lee's Love Canal if you like," Minister Lee said.
President Lee: ``(expletive deleted)."
Michael Breen is an author, former foreign correspondent and the chairman of Insight Communications, a public relations consulting company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.