ICHARM -- The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management


Former PWRI Researcher Awarded Korean Presidential Civil Merit Medal

On June 5, 2008, President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-bak granted one of the highest national awards to Dr. Lee Samhee, former visiting researcher of Japan's Public Works Research Institute (PWRI), for his pioneering work and distinguished contributions to river restoration in the Republic of Korea. Dr. Lee is currently a team leader at the Korea Institute of Construction Technology.

"River restoration" is a newly established interdisciplinary field to conserve and create scenic natural landscapes of rivers and preserve a sound habitat for native plants and animals. PWRI pioneered river restoration research in the 1980s that eventually led to the start of a nationwide program of "Nature-oriented River Works" in 1990. Japan's River Law, revised in 1997, embraced the conservation and improvement of river environments as one of the river administrators' prime missions. Since then, "Nature-oriented River Works" has been a part of river works in a growing number of rivers in Japan.

Dr. Lee conducted his doctoral studies at PWRI for three years from 1995 to 1998 on the theory and practice of river restoration to harmonize flood control with the river environment. After returning to Korea, he applied this new theory and practice to the restoration of the Yangjae River and demonstrated its effectiveness. The successful Yangjae case strongly encouraged the restoration project of the Cheonggye River. Dr. Lee was a principal advisor for its planning. In his award acceptance speech, Dr. Lee commented on PWRI, saying "Japan is leading the world in river restoration technology suitable for wet regions. PWRI was the best place for me to study practical technology for river restoration. For that, I thank the people at PWRI."