"Landscape as Political Project?" –Towards a ‘Greening’ of the DPRK; Identifying the Rise of a Conservational Paradigm in North Korean Environmental Management and its Connection with Western and Japanese Ecological Thought.

Speaker:                    Robert Winstanley-Chesters

Time and Date:
            29 February 2012 at 5pm

            Baines Wing, Seminar 3.06 at 5pm



Environmental management and practical policy strategies relating to it have always been an important part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) approach to what might be described as “revolutionary” or “Juché orientated” industrial/economic development. Historically environmental management in the DPRK has focused on schemes designed to promote productive increase or the building of technological capacity. Individual projects such as the “West Sea Barrage” or the “Taegyedo Tidal Reclamation Area” or more general systems for industrial management such as the “Taean Work System”, have been demonstrative of this impulse. However since the collapse of the wider Soviet Bloc, and the famine period of the mid 1990’s it has been possible to determine a change in policies relating to the management of the environment in the DPRK. Recently the DPRK has begun in a general sense to respond to themes developing within the thinking of governments, strategists and theoreticians from the wider world. Policy underpinned by themes such as “conservation” and “preservation” has been informed and influenced by the environmental or “green” movements. Accordingly projects within the DPRK focused on afforestation and hydrological engineering have begun to resemble those in nations within its closer East Asian neighbourhood like Japan (and even the ROK/South Korea). This paper builds on my previous research identifying historical narratives relating to environmental management within the DPRK (specifically those relating to coastal reclamation and forestry management), and the routes through which DPRK institutions translate ideological or philosophical development into practical policy direction; it investigates the extent to which the DPRK incorporates philosophically “alien”/foreign ideas within its theoretical construct and how institutionally it utilises strategies inspired by conservation-focused theory from the wider world in the field of environmental management, and especially that deriving from its local context such as the Japanese environmental movement; it identifies the development of new projects such as those focused on hydrological engineering at Punjiman and Sindo and low carbon power generation such as the wind farms at Unhairi which demonstrate practical examples of this utilisation and analyses what these developments might mean for practical and theoretical policy within wider institutional context in the DPRK, as well as its relationship with Japan and other neighbouring countries which are close geographically but far distant from an ideological or philosophical perspective.



Short Bio

Robert Winstanley-Chesters is a PhD student at the University of Leeds’ School of Geography. He was brought up in Liverpool, London, New York and Hamburg. Originally a Theologian he is currently writing up his Thesis “Landscape as Political Project?” – Environmental Management in North Korea” and researching the historical development of policy and ideology within the field of tidal reclamation and afforestation in the DPRK.