Sumin Myung

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Johns Hopkins U.

Grant number

Gr. 9917

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Myung, Sumin (Johns Hopkins U.) "Crafting Forests, Claiming Futures: A Politics of Scientific Reforestation in South Korea"

This research investigates how forest scientists in South Korea configure the reunification and decolonization of the two Koreas through scientific reforestation. South Korea is known as an extraordinary case of successful reforestation of ruined landscapes, wrecked by the excesses of Japanese imperialism, the Korean War, and Cold War developmentalism. Since the 1970s, reforestation plans across South Korea have scaled back these damages. In contrast, North Korea has experienced deforestation and environmental disasters. In the 2000s, forest scientists in South Korea started to forge relations to their counterparts in North Korea, urging their government to provide North Korea with forest conservation support. However, continuous sanctions by the UN Security Council and the US have held in check formal exchanges between them. Facing the geopolitical predicament, forest scientists consider reforestation to check climate change as the foremost route to cooperation with North Korea without drawing on global powers. Then, how do nascent scientific exercises work across the partitioned states? How do forest scientists provide a speculative template for alternative futures through scientific means? This project will offer a unique window to investigate how scientific projects in a postcolonial world bring together fractured pasts and alternative futures in an epoch of ecological crises.