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[VIDEO NEWS] Rock carvings from Neolithic area being washed away as regional gov’ts squabble

Oct 31,2018
1) The world’s most ancient evidence of whaling is slowly disappearing. Bangudae Petroglyphs, a series of riverside rock carvings, are Korea’s 285th national treasure.

2) The rock carvings, estimated to be some 5,000 years old, become submerged during heavy rains. Typhoon Kong-rey, which hit Korea on Oct.6th, was no exception.

3) Why can’t we protect the petroglyphs from rising water?

4) Daegok-ri, Eonyang, Ulju County, Ulsan.

5) Background: The area of rock is 10 meters (33 feet) wide by five meters high. There are about 300 carvings of marine and land animals carved on a flat rock face.

6) The engravings and paintings, depicting animals from the Neolithic to Bronze Age, were first found in 1971. The carvings are so specific that we can distinguish the species of whales from them.

7) “It shows the world’s oldest whaling heritage, and marine culture of the prehistoric era in the North Pacific Ocean.” -Moon Meong-dae, honorary professor of Dongguk University who discovered the petroglyphs in 1971.

8) The rocks above the petroglyphs point up and outward, so the site is protected from above. But the problem is water rising from underneath.

9) The carvings have been damaged by repeated flooding.

10) “Continuous flooding and exposure has deteriorated the petroglyph’s clarity to half what it was when first discovered.” -Lee Su-gon, professor of civil engineering at the University of Seoul.

11) Damage started after construction of the Saeyeon dam in 1965. The petroglyphs are only 4.5km away from the upper part of the dam.

12) When the water level of the dam reaches 53 meters, flooding begins.

13) If the water level of the dam reaches 56.7 meters, the remains become fully immersed.

14) Preservation Measure 1: Construction of a ‘kinetic dam’ to act as a temporary water blockage was carried out in 2013. The project was abandoned because water permeated the blockage.

15) Preservation Measure 2: An ecological embankment 63 meters away from the petroglyphs. It was abandoned because of damage to the area’s environment.

16) Preservation Measure 3: Lowering the level of the water of the dam to under 52 meters. But this caused a water shortage for citizens of Ulsan.

17) Ulsan city is planning to obtain water from other regions, such as Unmun Dam in North Gyeongsang.

18) But it’s not easy for governments of different regions to come to an agreement.

19) Ulsan city insists the water shortage should be solved first, while the Cultural Heritage Administration says water levels should be lowered right away. The two sides have been stuck in this dispute for the last 15 years.

20) Bangudae Petroglyphs are still under water today.

Video sourced from JoongAng Ilbo
Video produced by Choi Eun-kyung
Translated by Chung Yu-soo
Edited by Josh Doyle