After the devastation of the Korean War, the Republic of Korea was wracked by poverty and famine. In the 1960's the country's industrial sector began to develop, leading to the economic boom in the 1980's known as the "miracle on the Han River." During the first 20 years of South Korea's growth surge, little effort was made to preserve the environment. Unchecked industrialization and urban development have resulted in deforestation and the ongoing destruction of wetlands such as the Songdo Tidal Flat. However, there have been recent efforts to balance these problems, including a government run $84 billion five-year green growth project that aims to boost energy efficiency and green technology.
The green-based economic strategy is a comprehensive overhaul of South Korea's economy, utilizing nearly two percent of the national GDP. The greening initiative includes such efforts as a nationwide bike network, solar and wind energy, lowering oil dependent vehicles, backing daylight savings and extensive usage of environmentally friendly technologies such as LEDs in electronics and lighting. The country – already the world's most wired – plans to build a nationwide next-generation network which will be 10 times faster than broadband facilities in order to reduce energy usage.
Seoul's tap water recently became safe to drink, with city officials branding it "Arisu" in a bid to convince the public. Efforts have also been made with afforestation projects. Another multi-billion dollar project was the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, a stream running through downtown Seoul that had earlier been paved over by a motorway. One major challenge is air quality, with acid rain, sulfur oxides, and annual yellow dust storms being particular problems. It is acknowledged that many of these difficulties are a result of South Korea's proximity to China, which is a major air polluter.
South Korea is a member of the Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity Treaty, Kyoto Protocol (forming the Environmental Integrity Group (EIG), regarding UNFCCC, with Mexico and Switzerland), Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (not into force), Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, and Whaling. 
South Korea community action[edit | edit source]
Sustainability initiatives[edit | edit source]
- Wikipedia: Korean Federation for Environmental Movement: non-profit organization in South Korea that focuses on environmentalism. The group was founded in April 1993 as a federation of eight environmental groups, the largest being the Korean Anti-Pollution Movement Association. With approximately 80,000 individual members and around 50 local offices nationwide, KFEM is the largest environmental NGO in South Korea. Having roots in the Korean struggle for democracy, KFEM acts as a leader for the civil society. It is also the South Korean member of Friends of the Earth International.
- Since its founding, the organization has achieved a number of important victories, including stopping harmful projects such as the proposed nuclear waste dump on Gureop Island, a dam construction on the Dong River, and a golf course in the Gaya Mountain National Park. KFEM seeks to raise awareness on a variety of environmental issues and offer a forum for the citizens' concerns. The main activities include campaigns, funding and initiating research projects, organizing protests, and leading nature conservation work. The major campaigns address nuclear energy and the transition to renewable energy, toxic chemicals and air pollution, river protection from large dam construction, wetland and water bird conservation, GMO's, and corporate social responsibility. Further, KFEM focuses on specific issues, such as the conservation of wetlands and biodiversity in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between South and North Korea. KFEM also develops strategies for sustainable development and energy issues and plays a leading role in the the international cooperation with regards to global environmental challenges.
Communities online[edit | edit source]
“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project: (January 2013) 
- The Metropolitan Government plans to provide its photos of Seoul to the citizens under the Creative Commons License (CCL – permitting creations to be used by others freely under certain conditions). The Seoul Metropolitan Government intends to make a “Seoul On-line Photo Bank” so that citizens may share Seoul-related photos or contents with each other online.
Community energy[edit | edit source]
Seoul - Energy Welfare Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Programme, c40.org
Education for sustainability[edit | edit source]
Wikipedia: Korea Environmental Education Center
Sharing[edit | edit source]
“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project: (January 2013) 
- The Seoul Metropolitan Government has promoted the “Shared Bookshelves” program wherein residents in the neighborhood share books kept on bookshelves allotted to residents of apartment houses with over 300 households by installing a small library at such apartment houses. The Metropolitan Government also plans to operate a tool library wherein apartment house residents may share travel bags, hand tools, and other articles that are used only once in a while. The Metropolitan Government believes that such sharing programs will have the effect of reviving communities among the residents.
- Many students who are away from their homes in remote regions to attend one of the many universities in Seoul have experienced many difficulties because of the high house rent rates. On the other hand, many senior citizens suffer from loneliness as more elderly people live alone with the arrival of the aging society. The Metropolitan Government plans to connect those senior citizens who have extra empty rooms with students who need them. In this arrangement, the rooms may be rented at a low rate to the students, who in turn may provide the lonely senior citizens with services such as cleaning or shopping.
- More tourists visit Seoul, but they have experienced inconveniences due to the shortage of hotel rooms. To address this problem, and to help residents earn extra income, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to promote home-stay services for foreign tourists.
- The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support the sharing of used children’s clothes since they soon become too small for rapidly growing children. This way, used clothes dumped as waste will decrease significantly. On the other hand, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has already implemented policies of saving resources by having printers or other office equipment shared more intensively by reducing them in its offices.
Sustainable transport activism[edit | edit source]
“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project: (January 2013) 
- Corporate commuter buses running from the city’s suburbs or other satellite cities to the city center have roughly 15% or 2,300 empty seats. The Metropolitan Government plans to introduce a system wherein such empty seats could be shared with pregnant women or others who need care in transportation services.
- To promote car-sharing, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to introduce the Seoul Car Sharing Service with 492 sharing-cars this coming February. Toward that end, the Metropolitan Government will develop a brand and provide 229 parking lots in 90 public parking lots.
- The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to provide environment-friendly electric cars for sharing among its employees.
Towards sustainable economies[edit | edit source]
Citizens' Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ) is a citizens' movement in South Korea, which was founded in 1989. The movement works for economic justice, protection of the environment, for the reunification of Korea and for democratic and social development. Though it was founded not even twenty-five years ago, it has grown to encompass 35,000 members and 35 branches.
- In voicing the concerns of citizens, CCEJ has achieved improvements within education, developed policy alternatives, and lobbied for legal reforms. It organizes many public discussions and hearings and informs the press about the concerns of citizens. It has expanded its goal of economic justice on a global level. In 2003, CCEJ received the Right Livelihood Award for its efforts in creating a "reform programme, based on social justice." W
Trees, woodland and forest[edit | edit source]
Urban sustainability[edit | edit source]
Sharing City[edit | edit source]
“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project: (January 2013) 
- New buildings of a given size or larger are required to have an open ground space, but such space is not duly utilized. The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to support the sharing of such space as venues for artistic performances or flea or swap markets. Such space will also be utilized as small-scale urban rest area with chairs provided. In addition, the Metropolitan Government plans to provide a map service showing the locations or other details of such open spaces.
Haneul Park[edit | edit source]
During the preparations for the World Cup, Seoul's Nanjido Landfill was transformed into Haneul Park (Korean: 하늘공원). The trash, which had been accumulating for decades, was covered in a meter of soil to form two large hills. Trees now cover the slopes, and footpaths criss-cross through large stands of silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis). As the grass forms large tufts of seedheads, it changes the appearance of park, making it a popular destination in the Autumn. Several animal species now inhabit the park, including birds and the regionally endangered boreal digging frog (Kaloula borealis). Several wind turbines power the park's lights. The methane that is produced by the landfill is used to power nearby neighborhoods. 
Cheonggyecheon[edit | edit source]
From Wikipedia: Cheonggyecheon:
- Cheonggyecheon (Hangul: 청계천) is a 10.9 km (7.0 miles) long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul, South Korea. The massive urban renewal project is on the site of a stream that flowed before the rapid post-war economic development required it to be covered by transportation infrastructure. The $900 million project initially attracted much public criticism but, after opening in 2005, has become popular among city residents and tourists.
- The Cheonggyecheon restoration project had the purpose of preserving the unique identity of the natural environment and the historic resources in the CBD of Seoul, and to reinforce the surrounding business area with information technology, international affairs and digital industries. The plan also encouraged the return of the pedestrian-friendly road network connecting the stream with traditional resources, e.g. Bukchon, Daehangno, Jungdong, Namchon and Donhwamungil. This network system, named the CCB (Cheonggyecheon Culture Belt), tried to build up the foundation of cultural and environmental basis of the city.
- Creating the environment with clean water and natural habitats was the most significant achievement of the project. Species of fish, birds, and insects have increased significantly as a result of the stream excavation. The stream helps to cool down the temperature on the nearby areas by 3.6 °C on average versus other parts of Seoul. The number of vehicles entering downtown Seoul has shown a decrease of 2.3%, with an increasing number of users of buses (by 1.4%) and subways (by 4.3% - daily average of 430,000 people) as a result of the demolition of the two heavily used roads. This has a positive influence by improving the atmospheric environment in the region.
Resources[edit | edit source]
Commons[edit | edit source]
Sungmisan Urban Village, Seoul
In 1994, Sungmisan, a neighborhood in Seoul of about 700 families, was forged into a community by their successful fight to save a nearby forest from development. They leveraged that civic energy to create commons-based services for the neighborhood:
- They started with a childcare co-op for neighborhood families
- In 2001, they built on the success of the childcare co-op to start a consumer co-op for eco-friendly goods
- Along the way they formed clubs for parenting, studying, gardening, hiking, photography, and more
- And they started hosting regular concerts, festivals, and theatrical events in the neighborhood
In 2004, they took things to the next level by starting Sungmisan Village School, an alternative to traditional public school education that emphasizes peer learning. Alongside traditional topics, students learn organic farming, pottery, and other skills from community members, many of them elders. Principal Park Bok Sun describes the impact on the community:
"The villagers feel that the school is their school because they are involved. Children know all teachers well. It's not just about learning information. They can see how a potter makes pottery, exhibits, sells and does bookkeeping. Imagine what a vivid example it is! The teacher isn’t someone who just comes to class, teaches few things then runs away to his home and no one knows where the teacher lives."
The success of Sungmisan Village has inspired numerous urban villages in Seoul. The city government now actively supports the development of urban villages through the Seoul Community Support Center. 
Video[edit | edit source]
News and comment[edit | edit source]
In the world’s first ‘Coronavirus elections’, South Korea voted for climate action. In the first national elections in the time of Covid-19, South Korea’s Democratic Party won in a landslide – after putting forward a bold Green New Deal plan in their manifesto. Apr 23 
Using ancient values to solve modern problems at the Eunpyeong Sharing Center, Dec 17 
Korea: New presidential candidate promises universal basic income, Feb 8 
South Korea's Plan to Have World's First Carbon-Free Island, Jun 7 
In South Korea, An Innovative Push to Cut Back on Food Waste, May 20 
Here's what happened when a neighborhood decided to ban cars for a month, May 11 
“The Sharing City, Seoul” Project, Sharing City – a new city paradigm, January 24
- On 20 September 2012, the Seoul Metropolitan Government disclosed its plan for promoting the “Sharing City, Seoul” project, which includes 20 sharing programs and policies for generating or diffusing “sharing city” infrastructure after declaring the “Seoul as a Sharing City” vision. The Metropolitan Government regards “sharing city” as a new alternative for social reform that can resolve many economic, social, and environmental issues of the city simultaneously by creating new business opportunities, recovering trust-based relationships, and minimizing wastage of resources. In particular, the city plans to deploy secondary sharing infrastructure from now on to enhance the usefulness of idle resources such as space, objects, and talents since its urban policies have concentrated on constructing primary sharing infrastructure to date, such as roads, parking lots, schools, and libraries. Parallel to the above, the Metropolitan Government plans to implement policies of opening public resources to the citizens by having the public sector take the initiative while focusing on the implementation of policies that respect and promote private sector capabilities. 
An Integrated Landscape: Yongsan National Park, May 9 
Japan and South Korea launch Green New Deals,  January 9. South Korea's 36 projects include the creation of green transport networks, the provision of two million energy-saving 'green homes' and the clean-up of the country's four main rivers.