The Green Algae Latte

PhotographerSiyeh Chung
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

“The Green Algae Latte” is the world’s most expensive latte. The Korean government has invested $18 billion in the making of this “latte, “ but yet there is no one in South Korea who would drink it. In July 2009, the Korean government, despite opposition from the Korean people, began the Four Rivers Restoration Project (the channelization of the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Youngsan rivers). The project began under the pretext of public interest aimed at flood control and the improvement of water quality. However, at the completion of the project in 2012, the once unscathed rivers were beginning to die. After the river waters changed to a bright green color, people began calling it the “green algae latte.”

Story

The Green Algae Latte” is the world’s most expensive latte. The Korean government has invested $18 billion in the making of this “latte, “ but yet there is no one in South Korea who would drink it. In July 2009, the Korean government, despite opposition from the Korean people, began the Four Rivers Restoration Project (the channelization of the Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Youngsan rivers). The project began under the pretext of public interest aimed at flood control and the improvement of water quality. However, at the completion of the project in 2012, the once unscathed rivers were beginning to die. After the river waters changed to a bright green color, people began calling it the “green algae latte.” When I visited the Geum River after the restoration project began, the river water was the color of the green-tea latte I used to enjoy drinking. In contrast from the beautiful color that I saw, it was difficult to stand there with the horrible odor that rose from the river water. It was also sad to see the shoals of fish that came to the surface of water to breathe. An older local man whom I met while photographing explained that the river was dying, that the old river was better, and that he wishes that the river would return to how it was before the four rivers restoration project began. My hope is that my photograph of the “Green Algae Latte” would allow people to think about the damage to the four rivers, and that people would begin to take more interest in environmental issues.