Saemangeum: The most important site for migratory shorebirds in the whole of the Yellow Sea (a sea bordered by China, North Korea and South Korea), hundreds of thousands of shorebirds (waders) use Saemangeum as a refuelling point on migration between their breeding and wintering grounds. Two of the world's most endangered shorebirds - the Spotted (or Nordmann's) Greenshank and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper - will slip further towards extinction if the project, to reclaim 40,100 ha of tidal-flat and shallows, is not halted.

Court ruling: The reclamation was suspended when a Korean court ruled in July 2003 that water in the proposed huge reclamation reservoirs will be of too low quality for agricultural use - rendering the project's meaning illegitimate and the costs required to clean it up far in excess of those claimed by the government.

Samboilbae: With its origin in religion, the Samboilbae can be practiced by all: religious and non-religious, spiritual and cynical - in this case anyone that believes in the value of wetlands, and in the importance of helping to raise awareness and publicity.

The tradition of sam-bo, or "three steps," is rooted in the idea of "three poisons." Buddhist teaching states that unless a person is able to shed the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness there is no use in practicing the religion no matter how hard that person tries. So the custom of taking three steps came to signify the shedding of the "three poisons".

The Jogye Order in Korea adopted the sambo-ilbae, or "three steps and a bow" - the bow signifying sincere penitence for the "three poisons" - in its curriculum designed for those who hoped to become monks: the pain involved in this ritual often made would-be monks give up!

The Venerable Sugyeong of the Sudeoksa temple in South Chungcheong province first linked the practice with environmentalism, and the samboilbae became the signature protest against the plan to drill a tunnel through Mount Bukhan and build a reservoir in Mount Jiri.

The religious leaders: Rev. Su-kyung is one of four religious leaders who lead the Samboilbae in Korea for 65 days last year. He is a highly respected Zen master and began to be involved in the Buddhist environmental movement from 2000 influenced by one of his closest friends, Rev. Do-beop. He founded and is a president of Buddhist Environmental Alliance and has lead many environmental campaigns including Saemangeum, Buk-han-san mountain National Park conservation from tunneling by a highway construction and many more. He is a zen master of Silsang-sa Temple in Jirisan mountain, in the south of Korea. He and others who lead the Samboilbae were awarded many environmental prizes late last year from many environmental groups and media. He is one of the co-presidents of Saemangeum Life and Peace Alliance.

Rev. Do-beop is head master of Silsang-sa Temple which is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Korea and was founded more than 1300 years ago. He has been leading the purification movement in Buddhism in Korea asking Buddhists to return to pure and original teachings of Buddha for about 20 years. He has founded a few organizations(including Jirisan Life and Peace Alliance) of Buddhist environmental, eco-community and peace movement and has been very active in those areas. He is considered the most respected living Buddhist monk in Korea. He was selected as one of 100 next generation leaders of Korea (the only one from Buddhist society) by the Hankyoreh, a national daily newspaper, last week.

Rev. Lee Seon-Jong is also a highly respected nun of Won-bul-gyo(or Won Buddhism) and she used to be head master of Jongno Wonbulgyo Temple in Seoul. She has founded and has been president of Cheon-ji-bo-eun-hoi, an Won Buddhist environmental group. She is also considered one of the most respected living Won Buddhist monks and nuns in Korea. She was also selected as one of 100 next generation leaders of Korea (the only one from Wonbulgyo society) by the Hankyoreh, a national daily newspaper, last week. She is one of co-presidents of Saemangeum Life and Peace Alliance.

They will arrive in the UK on January 27th, and a tour of wetland reserves and visits to relevant organisations (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, RSPB, Birdlife International, FoE (KFEM are the FoE partnes in Korea)) has been organised. MA Yong-un and KIM Sukyung who is travelling with them both speak English, and interviews can be arranged with the group. Please contact Charlie MOORES: Tel.: +44 (0) 1249 464370).

Snettisham: The Snettisham RSPB Reserve is situated on the Norfolk coast of The Wash - an area once threatened with reclamation, and with many similarities to Saemangeum. It is best-known for its large flocks of migratory shorebirds and wildfowl. For more details please refer to

Snettisham Reserve Homepage

RSPB: The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is based at Sandy, Bedfordshire in the UK. "Since its founding in 1889, the RSPB has grown into a wildlife conservation charity with more than a million members. It has offices across the UK and, since its successful first campaign to end the plumage trade, it has widened its sphere of influence to include a huge range of issues that affect wildlife and habitats." from


World Wetlands Day: "WWD" has been held annually since 1997: for more information refer to:


If you would like more information on the event, and the tradition of samboilbae, please look here

For more information on the Saemangeum controversy, please go to here

WBKEnglish is a Korean/UK based conservation network founded in 2002 by Nial and Charlie MOORES, and Korean activist KIM SuKyung. As the only English-language network with activists on the ground in Korea, WBKEnglish is uniquely placed to provide up-to-date information on conservation issues within South Korea. Much of this information is posted on their website, which is updated almost daily.


WBKEnglish and the largest Korean NGO, the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement, launched a joint online petition in July 2003 supporting the suspension of the project, and appealing to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to finally remove this catastrophic project from the government's agenda forever. This petition has attracted almost 12000 signatures, and will be handed to the Korean Embassy in London at the end of the visit on Monday Feb 2nd.

The petition is online at

Page last updated on:

Proact 2003