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Water 2017, 9(9), 717; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9090717

Water Policy Reforms in South Korea: A Historical Review and Ongoing Challenges for Sustainable Water Governance and Management

1
Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
2
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Kangwon National University, 24341 Chuncheon, Korea
3
Institute for Environmental Economics and World Trade, University of Hannover, 30167 Hannover, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 3 September 2017 / Accepted: 15 September 2017 / Published: 18 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Water Management within Inland River Watershed)
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Abstract

This study aims to provide an opinion on the state-of-the-art of changes and reforms of water policies in South Korea, as well as the challenges along with their implications for sustainable water governance and management. In parallel with change in water resource characteristics generated by physical, environmental and socio-economic challenges such as: (1) uncertainties about climate change (flooding and drought) including seasonal and regional variation in precipitation; (2) significant increase in water use caused by rapid urbanization and population growth in industrialized urban areas; (3) inadequate water pricing mechanism which covers only around 80% of the production cost and makes it harder to maintain water systems; and (4) recursive water quality degradation and conflicts over water rights between regions resulting from non-point source pollution in highland versus lowland areas, Korean water policies have been developed through diverse reforms over 100 years. Nevertheless, new challenges for sustainable water management are continuously emerging. To meet those challenges we provide two ideas: (i) provider-gets-principle (payment for ecosystem services) of cost-benefit sharing among stakeholders who benefit from water use; and (ii) water pricing applying full-cost pricing-principle internalizing environmental externalities caused by the intensive water use. Funds secured from the application of those methods would facilitate: (1) support for upstream (rural) low income householders suffering from economic restrictions; (2) improvement in water facilities; and (3) efficient water use and demand management in South Korea’s water sectors. We expect that this paper can examine the lessons relevant to challenges that South Korea faces and offer some implications on the formulation of new integration and further reforms of the institutions, laws and organizations responsible for managing water resources in South Korea. View Full-Text
Keywords: water policy changes and reforms; water challenges; provider-gets-principle; full-cost pricing; payment for ecosystem services water policy changes and reforms; water challenges; provider-gets-principle; full-cost pricing; payment for ecosystem services
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Choi, I.-C.; Shin, H.-J.; Nguyen, T.T.; Tenhunen, J. Water Policy Reforms in South Korea: A Historical Review and Ongoing Challenges for Sustainable Water Governance and Management. Water 2017, 9, 717.

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