[MINORITY VOICE]Good-bye, dear woodpeckers

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[MINORITY VOICE]Good-bye, dear woodpeckers

Warmth and rain cause plants to bud and flowers to bloom. As I look at beautiful Mount Bukhan, I feel suddenly aroused by spring fever, which one can feel at the temple of perfect bliss - Silsangsa temple in Mount Jiri. The solemn spirits of nature touch me, and I cannot help closing my eyes.

Spring is still a "cruel" season, for some people indulge in spring fever and bring misfortune upon themselves, while others ignore the fever and fall into the bottomless pits of pessimism. Spring makes me feel like a wounded animal surrounded by freshly felled trees. As a wounded animal, I shed tears of penitence in front of these fallen trees, which cannot produce buds or flowers, not to mention leaves.

While the world celebrates the arrival of spring, here in Mount Bukhan National Park flowers are gone even before they come into full bloom, and only dust is blowing. This is the dust of death, more severe than the yellow dust blown here from China. The construction of the outer road around Seoul that is expected to rip through the heart of Mount Bukhan is behind this new dust.

National parks are set aside under this spirit: "This designated area shall be preserved in its natural state, not only for the current generation but also for the next, in hopes that it will stop development from encroaching on the entire country."

But the destruction of this national park is being openly carried out in the name of government policy.

Mount Bukhan National Park, together with Mount Surak and Mount Bulam, provides clean air for 20 million people living in the Seoul metropolitan area. The park is also a natural recreational area and a place to educate people about the ecosystem. The northwestern side of Mount Dobong, where an entrance to the tunnel that runs beneath the mountain will be built, is a place with high ecological value, filled with wild orchids and rare plants. The Mangwoelsa temple valley has the most spectacular scenery in Mount Dobong. This is why the National Park Authority three times has submitted a counterargument to the development plan. The government ignored the rational counterarguments and conducted a negligent environmental evaluation before it began construction of the tunnel in a hurry.

The construction needs to be stopped immediately. Since there is a lot of traffic between Seoul and Uijeongbu, the freeway should be built to skirt Uijeongbu in order to spread out the traffic. Under the plan, the new freeway is expected to be the worst inner expressway, rather than an outer one, and will only damage the national park.

Mountains, seas, rivers and forests not only need to be preserved for their present value but also need to be preserved as our future assets.

On this day I am waiting for the woodpeckers and wild rabbits that vanished after the construction began. I look at fallen trees with a feeling of penitence.

Mountains should be separated from roads. If this isn't a road up ahead, let's go around it.

The writer, a Buddhist monk with the Chogye Order, represents the Korea Buddhist Solidarity for the Environment.

by Sookyung

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