Eco-Living Magazine

Hues of Green in Korea

Posted on the 15 April 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev

Downtown SeoulSouth Korea’s capital city of Seoul, including its surrounding urban area sprawling across the wide Han River, is home to more than 25 million people and by some estimates the world’s second largest metropolis.  It is also a scant 52 kilometers south of the world’s most heavily fortified border–the Demilitarized Zone separating South Korea from North Korea–and changed hands several times over the course of the Korean War.  While Seoul is frequently the target of threats by North Korea to turn it into a “sea of fire,” this rhetoric often seems quite distant in what is certainly one of the most energetic cities in the world.  Many visitors to Seoul would likely agree that the “Dynamic Korea” branding campaign South Korea has used during the past decade could hardly be more apt.

During a visit last week to Seoul, a city I have traveled to often over the past decade, I could not help but notice how much its appearance has changed during that time.  Striking new skyscrapers and architecture immediately catches the eye, but an increasing shift towards protecting and enhancing the city’s natural and environmental amenities is showing results.  Indeed, during the past few years South Korea has made sustainable development and green growth a central theme of its domestic and global policy agendas.  North Korea may dominate news about the Korean Peninsula in the United States these days, but South Korea’s efforts to put sustainability at the fore of economic development deserve attention for their evolution from the growth-at-all-costs approach long pursued.

In future posts over the coming weeks, I will explore some of South Korea’s recent initiatives to encourage sustainable and green solutions to economic growth, ranging from Seoul’s Cheonggeycheon urban stream restoration project to national government policies and efforts to play a leading global role in advancing green, sustainable solutions.  South Korea is particularly important in that many emerging economies around the world look to it as a successful model for achieving rapid economic growth–and perhaps can also learn from its experiences in sustainable growth.

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