The South Korean environment ministry announced recently that it has discovered several near-extinct species of plants and animals along the Tong River in Kangwon province and also in the coastal regions of the country, according to a report published in the Korea Herald . The ministry said these endangered species were found during a study conducted by 193 teams on the central inland areas along the Tong River and 30 spots on the western and southern coasts. These were designated endangered by the government after a seven-year-long study of the nation's flora and fauna. The study that began in 1997, will be completed in 2002.

According to the information gathered so far, near-extinct species of animals, such as otters and Hodgson's bats, were found in the Tong River area. The Pink pasqueflower, until now was found only in North Korea, was also discovered.

The results from the coastal region studies yielded 82 species of animals previously believed not to exist in Korea. They comprise 45 different types of arthropods, such as mud crabs and snapping shrimp, and 27 types of mollusks, such as Dove Shell and ark, four of which were unearthed in Sunchon in South Cholla Province. Meanwhile, the study showed that foreign-bred species, like bullfrogs, bass and blue gills, that the ministry set out to eliminate because they were detrimental to the nations' food chain, were still present.

In addition, a foreign-bred specie, a type of fresh-water snail, was also found. The snail harms rice farms, officials at the environment ministry said.