Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ave, ROK Drop!

Very interesting post over at ROK Drop: an embedded tweet with a before/after composite photo of a North Korean reforestation project showing some impressive arboreal growth—apparently part of a reforestation project.

If there's one metric in which North Korea beats South Korea, it's lack of pollution. True, the relative cleanliness of North Korea has much to do with the inhumanly repressive government and economy: poor people aren't likely to own contraptions that sully the atmosphere or fill the night sky with light pollution. But I have to wonder to what extent regular North Korean citizens—when they're not worrying about surviving in that hellhole from day to day—have a sense of duty toward the environment and are sensitive to how human activity can affect the soil, the water, and the air. If the two Koreas were to unify, would northerners bring with them a more acute eco-consciousness than southerners possess? This makes for an interesting question. I suspect that North Korea's cleanliness is more like an unintended side-effect of its government's repressive policies than the result of a proactive eco-sensibility, but it's also possible that a severely oppressed people might develop a poignant aesthetic sense when it comes to the preservation of natural surroundings: in the midst of all the terror, it's important to cling to whatever beauty one can find.

If North Koreans are, in fact, acutely eco-conscious—and consequently appreciative of their clean roads, unlittered cities, and unpolluted night skies—it might behoove South Koreans to employ North Koreans, post-reunification, in jobs that involve repairing all the damage that South Koreans have done to their own land. But are there North Koreans who have a background in environmental science? And would they feel at all motivated to help save their southern brothers from themselves?

Now I'm interested in finding out what literature exists on the topic of North Korea and environmentalism. There must be some papers or monographs out there, right?

NB: the ROK Drop post links to this well-researched article that answers some, but by no means all, of my questions.

No comments: