After decades of leaving nature to itself, the government has decided that they need to “develop” Dadohae National Park into a “Northeast Asian Tourist Hub“, complete with new ports for cruise ships, hotels, and condominiums.

This idea of turning a national park into a means of making money is not a new idea. America has its debates regarding those business interests that want the money that tourism brings, however this is often balanced out by those who see the necessity in preserving nature and promoting responsible management. As in a recent NY Times blog “What would you designate (as) a National Park?“, one commenter notes:

Some of the most beautiful and unspoiled areas in the United States are beautiful and unspoiled precisely because they aren’t national parks and thus aren’t overrun with tourists and their dollars.

and another talks of the effect of commercialism upon natural wonders:

Sadly, one of our country’s–and the world’s–most iconic natural wonders missed out on the national park movement of the early 20th Century, and as a result, has been turned into something of a circus sideshow. Could it be restored to it’s natural glory? Who knows. But if any site deserves to be rated a national park, it would be Niagara Falls.

As a direct comparison with the “National Seashore” parks in America, not a single one allows for commercial development as proposed by the Korean Government for the existing parks, rather the goal of the National Park Service in the U.S. is to preserve rather than turn unspoiled areas to profit.

Apparently, based upon how this situation was explained to me, the local residents and government is more so behind this tourism effort and some have talked of having the Unification Church build a hotel in the area as well.

All this begs the question that is yet to be answered: can local government-sponsored tourism co-exist with responsible management of Korea’s natural resources? Considering what has happened at Seamanguem (50-100 year potential money-pit), there is more than a little reason to worry about what will happen if “Canal Fever” and its rush-to-riches zeal spreads to other areas of Korea without any clear centralized vision of Korea’s natural resources other than being mere sources of economic exploitation.