Han River 'at war with trash' during peak bloom period of cherry blossom

2024.04.11 17:27
Kim Bo-mi

Garbage discarded by visitors is piled up at Yeouido Hangang Park in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Government

Garbage discarded by visitors is piled up at Yeouido Hangang Park in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, South Korea. Courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Government

The explosive increase of springtime visitors to the Han River has led to a surge in trash and street vendors in the park. As the crowds stay out late into the night and generate tons of waste every day, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has decided to take a stronger stance against littering and illegal street vendors.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on April 10, the number of visitors to Yeouido Han River Park in March reached 1.166 million (based on KT Tourism Analysis System). This is four times the average number of visitors (275,500) in the winter months of January and February.

In particular, the number of visitors increased dramatically between March 29 and April 7, around the cherry blossom festival, and the total amount of garbage generated over the ten days was 101 tons. This is up to five times more than the usual 3-5 tons per day. On the 7th, which was Sunday, more than 25 tons of garbage was discharged in just one day alone.

In response, Yeouido Han River Park deployed 23 street cleaners every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to remove the waste in 24 trash cans weighing 2.5 tons at the 1.49 square kilometers of river banks and plazas. However, as citizens continue to visit the park even at night, it is difficult for them to dispose of trash and clean the park in time.

The surge in garbage, which is difficult to handle with the current cleaning personnel and equipment, is also attributed to illegal street vendors spread across the 11 Han River parks.

Between the 9th of last month and the 7th of this month, 442 illegal street vendors were caught by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department and a total of 30.94 million won in fines was imposed. In addition, from last year to the beginning of this year, out of 20 stalls on the Heavenly Stairs at the Han River Park in Yeouido, some stalls selling food products that use fire and eight stalls in front of the restrooms in Parking Lot 2 were forced to relocate to prevent safety accidents.

A Seoul Metropolitan Government official explained, "There have been difficulties in enforcing subsistence-type street vendors, but there are some that have recently transformed into corporate types that hire part-time workers." "If their disorderly conduct continues, we will respond strongly by enforcing them without leniency," he said.

“To that end, we will increase the number of street vendor business crackdowns from twice a week to four times a week. Those caught in the crackdown will be fined 70,000 won per case. If disorderly conduct and unsanitary business continues, a fine of 1 million won can be imposed under the River Act.”

※This article has undergone review by a professional translator after being translated by an AI translation tool.

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