Han River parks are clogged with more garbage

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Han River parks are clogged with more garbage

In a park along the Han River in Banpo, southern Seoul, people enjoying the spring weather crowd a convenience store to stock up on snacks and drinks.

The garbage left over from their merrymaking is easy to spot.

Bags of trash and plastic bottles surround the store and are scattered in front of the tents that dot the park.

A park in Yeouido, western Seoul, is in worse shape. In front of a subway exit that leads to the park, about 20 people hand out leaflets advertising food to passersby, and the leaflets cover the sidewalk.

The number of people who visit the 11 parks alongside the Han River was about 64 million in 2014, and this increased by 10.1 percent to 71 million in 2018. The fines issued for petty crimes such as littering in the areas doubled from 2,575 to 6,038.

“Last year, 24 million people visited the riverside park in Yeouido,” said Lee Won-gun, the head of the center that manages the riverside park in Yeouido. “There are 12 to 15 tons of trash thrown out in the park on weekends alone. We plan to deploy 40 employees this year to patrol and issue fines to people who illegally dump trash in the park.”

Daejeon is also facing trash problems. KAIST’s large campus, a popular destination for outdoor relaxation, restricted access to outsiders to some of their facilities, such as the library and the liberal arts annex building until April 22.

The decision was due to the illegal parking, trash dumping and noise that disturbed students.

“Students studying for their exams complain about illegally parked cars that block pathways and people who drink alcohol and make too much noise,” said an employee at the university.

Seoul is also beginning a crackdown.

Starting on Monday, 237 patrol employees were deployed at the 11 riverside parks along the Han River, and the number of daily patrols has increased from four to eight.

Annually, about 12 to 13 percent more trash are left behind than the year before. In 2015, 3,806 tons of trash was thrown out at Han River parks, whereas in 2017, the number grew to 4,823 tons.

“[It] will be enforced by 237 patrol employees,” said a Seoul city government worker.

Following noise complaints, the number of outdoor independent performers at the Han River has been limited to about 100 groups, down from 107 last year.

Now, the performances must be 60 decibels and under, and the speakers must face the river.

“The trash problem in the parks along the Han River is becoming more serious,” said Yang Min-gyu, a member of the Seoul Metropolitan Council.

“This is because of poor management by the Seoul city government and the lack of civic consciousness by the people. We need to consider reinforcing the criteria for fines.”

BY LEE SANG-JAI, JUNG MYUNG-SUK [jung.myungsuk@joongang.co.kr]

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