Where should we locate the origins of modern Korea’s environmental problems? How should we organize and narrate the events, occurrences and entities of environmental history in Korea? Many assume that environmental issues emerged in the 1960s when heavy industrialization visibly started to pollute air and water in the urban. This presentation, however, traces the origins of environmental issues in the late nineteenth century with the modernization of agriculture and an assault against soil. Going beyond the simplistic binary of the exploitative cities (and industrialists) vs. exploited agrarian areas (and farmers), this presentation illuminates how the modern destruction of soil set the stage for what came to be identified as a period of environmental destruction since the 1960s. Overall, this presentation calls for spatially re-conceptualizing “environmental problems” and using the paradigm of “everyday ecology” to shift a focus from industrialization in cities to agriculture and the rural in writing a critical environmental history on the relationship between power and ecology. .
Albert Park is the Bank of America Associate Professor of Pacific Basin Studies in the Department of History at Claremont McKenna College (The Claremont Colleges).
This event is co-sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center.