In 2009, the Korean government started the ambitious Four Major Rivers Project (FMRP) to revitalize four rivers - the Han, the Nakdong, the Geum and the Yeongsan. Since this project was the first national level agenda aiming to promote a green new deal policy, the government has poured huge funds into it. However, there is increasing number of disputes over the different aspects of the FMRP. As the FMRP was almost exclusively led by the government and little information was open to the public, criticism of the decision-making process as well as the negative impact on the environment have been continuously raised by the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In order to identify problems associated with the FMRP implementation and draw out policy implications, this study attempts to investigate controversial issues and conflicting interests in the FMRP from the perspective of sustainable development. For this, a case study approach is employed and contents analysis is conducted to compare government and NGO reports and contrast the viewpoints of the government and the media/NGOs. The research suggests that (1) a government (i.e., the organizing body) should try to identify and reconcile the conflicting interests of different stakeholders; (2) policy makers dealing with sustainability issue should try to reduce the gaps between policy and public awareness and opinion; and (3) more emphasis should be put on morality and ethics, particularly in the public sector. It is hoped that this study can provide meaningful implications with regard to how a national level project should be implemented in a way which reconciles different stakeholders, such as local residents, policy makers and the general public.
Keywords: Four Major Rivers Project, Sustainable Development, South Korea