Agrarian Heritage and the Future of Sustainable Agriculture in South Korea

Ms. Soo Sun Choe
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According to the “Miracle on the Han”, South Korea made a transition unprecedented in its rapidity from a primarily agricultural, impoverished post-war society to an industrialized nation with the third largest economy in Asia. Although South Korea today is highly urbanized, the marks-and social stresses of the agrarian to industrial transition are still highly visible. It is with both nostalgia and mild repugnance for the hard labor entailed that many young urbanites regard the agricultural past of their parents and grandparents. Nonetheless, despite their declining numbers, from the late 80s, a burgeoning farmer’s movement began to make itself heard, demanding the “right to farm” and opposing agricultural trade liberalization talks- a concern which remains current for farmers today.

Increased affluence has also fostered growing consciousness and demand for non-GMO and organic foods, paralleling the emergence of environmental NGOs, and bringing the language of “sustainable agriculture” into currency in the 1990s’. Considering the rapidly aging face of the countryside, the overall decline of the agricultural sector, (despite its political significance), the increase in environmental awareness, and consumer demand for more diverse foods/food products, this presentation will reflect on how these changes impact current and future possibilities for sustainable agriculture.

Keywords: South Korea, Sustainable Agriculture, Environment
Stream: Environmental Sustainability, Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Ms. Soo Sun Choe

Graduate Student, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Soo Sun Choe is a graduate student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Most recently she has worked in the position of Immigrant/Civil Rights Advocacy Director at the Korean Resource Center, a Los Angeles, U.S. community organization. Previously, Soo Sun was an English Instructor at Sungkonghoe University in Seoul, South Korea. Her B.S. degree was in International Agriculture, Cornell University, New York, with a concentration in Asian American Studies.

Ref: S06P0142