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A review on ancient urban stream management for flood mitigation in the capital of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea

Kim, Hyeonjun, Jang, Cheol-hee
Journal of hydro-environment research 2019 v.22 pp. 14-18
dredging, floods, guidelines, people, risk, river engineering, rivers, streams, waterways, Korean Peninsula
Korean historical documents have abundant records of river works. Extensive related records during the Joseon Dynasty (CE 1392–1910) were investigated and analyzed. The evolution of man-made urban stream, Cheonggyecheon the center of old downtown Seoul, Korea was reviewed. In 1410, after a big flood, 52,800 soldiers were mobilized from whole country to improve waterway in the capital. King Sejong continued to enhance the river maintenance. The dredging and expansion for main stream including tributaries was conducted to reduce flood risk. It was a landmark river engineering project for the improvement of the capital’s infrastructure. King Yeongjo planned and initiated the massive river work project. 200,000 people were recruited from five local provinces to widen the stream and to build up the stone embankments, and the waterways were straightened up to present conditions. After the project, the Juncheonsail, a construction report was published and adopted as a practical guideline for river management. As a result, floods in downtown of the capital had been somewhat controlled though, since then every King of the Joseon Dynasty had deep consideration on river maintenance including dredging and embankment against flood and sedimentation. This paper aims to introduce a brief history of the systematic urban river management in ancient Korea.