Successful Reforestation in South Korea by Kyung-Joon Lee

Successful Reforestation in South Korea

Strong Leadership of Ex-President Park Chung-Hee
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A Seoul National University professor recounts the transformation of South Korea from barren moonscape to tree-filled landscape and the pivotal role in that process played by former President Park Chung-Hee.

In 1960, South Korea’s mountainous countryside looked like a lunar plane. Plagued by years of unwise government policies and exacerbated by war and the presence of occupying powers, the country’s landscape had been virtually denuded of trees. Even the stumps had been dug up by occupying Japanese during World War II to get resin for use as an oil substitute. The result was lost animal habitat, frequent landslides caused by even small amounts of rain and the widespread breakdown of multiple ecosystems. However, in 1961, things started to change when Park Chung-Hee came to power. Listing the illegal deforestation as one of the country’s major problems, he began instituting policies aimed at reforesting South Korea. The turnaround was remarkable. In 1982, the United Nations cited South Korea as the only developing country to successfully accomplish reforestation after World War II. The author, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, has written a straightforward and often fascinating account of South Korea’s reforestation success under Park, who was assassinated in 1979. A valentine of sorts to Park, the book credits him with single-handedly starting and pushing the drive to make South Korea more green. It contains numerous anecdotes about Park and his love of trees, such as his knowing exactly how many trees were planted at a village and noting upon his later visit that one was gone. The book could have been inundated with statistics, but to his credit, the author keeps the numbers to a minimum, preferring instead to focus on the people and policies that turned the country from brown to green, including the creation of the Forest Service. One noticeable flaw among the plaudits for Park: The book conspicuously circumvents discussing his controversial legacy, though it’s hard to deny his vital role in seeing the forest for the trees and harnessing the power of government for sound environmental policies.

A notable look at a less-publicized chapter of environmentalism.  

Pub Date: March 25th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1482644104
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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