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DATE=7/12/2000
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
TITLE=PRESERVING KOREA'S D-M-Z
NUMBER=5-46649
BYLINE=STEPHANIE MANN
DATELINE=WASHINGTON
INTERNET=YES
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:
INTRO:  As North and South Korea try to build on the 
goodwill from their recent summit, the two countries 
are looking to increase economic cooperation and 
arrange reunions of divided families.  Correspondent 
Stephanie Mann reports that scientists and others 
concerned about the future of the Korean peninsula say 
the two sides also have a special responsibility to 
protect the environment. 
TEXT:  When the Korean War ended in 1953, the two 
sides agreed to a truce along a demarcation line that 
splits the Korean peninsula in half.
The Demilitarized Zone - known as the D-M-Z - created 
by the line is four-kilometers wide and 250-kilometers 
long.  It is one of the most highly fortified 
boundaries in the world.  Soldiers patrol both sides 
of the D-M-Z, and no one is allowed inside the zone. 
During the five decades since the Korean War, South 
Korea has undergone rapid economic development.  Many 
areas of natural beauty have become industrial or 
agricultural sites, and environmental scientists say 
that has led to serious contamination of land and 
water. 
North Korea has spent the past few decades denuding 
its land of trees.  The director of the Center for 
Biodiversity Research at the Pennsylvania State 
University, Ke Chung Kim, says that deforestation is 
directly related to North Korea's problems of food 
shortages and poverty.
            // KIM ACT ONE //
      North Korea has tremendous problems with flood 
      and erosion, due to a series of ... 
      deforestation.  So, many of the mountainsides 
      have clear cuts and a lack of trees.
            // END ACT // 
Professor Kim says the Demilitarized Zone is the only 
part of the Korean peninsula that has been untouched 
by human encroachment during the past 47-years.
            // OPT // KIM ACT TWO //
      Considering the devastation of environment in 
      South and North Korea, that area (the DMZ) is 
      basically the jewel of (the) Korean landscape 
      and Korean ecosystems at large.
            // END ACT // END OPT //
Professor Kim says habitat destruction in Korea has 
made many species extinct or endangered.  He says 
nobody knows if any of those species are still alive 
in the D-M-Z.  For example, Mr. Kim says leopards and 
tigers used to live on the Korean peninsula, and there 
may still be some in the Demilitarized Zone.
He says other rare animals, including the black bear 
and the musk deer, are known to live in the buffer 
area outside the D-M-Z, called the Civilian Control 
Zone.  In addition, Professor Kim says two species of 
seriously endangered birds - the white-necked crane 
and the red-crowned crane - use the D-M-Z and the 
Civilian Control Zone for a winter habitat on their 
migratory routes.
// OPT //  He says the buffer zone is home to more 
than 11-hundred vascular plants and 83-species of fish 
and accounts for more than 70-percent of the plant and 
animal biodiversity in Korea.  // END OPT //
To press the governments in Seoul and Pyongyang to 
preserve the nature that is flourishing in the D-M-Z, 
a new non-governmental organization has been created.
Mr. Kim's Center for Biodiversity Research joined with 
the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Institute of 
Public Administration at New York University to 
establish the D-M-Z Forum.  The D-M-Z Forum wants the 
area declared a nature preserve for research and 
education. 
The executive director of the D-M-Z Forum, Seung Ho 
Lee, says many South Korean companies and local 
officials believe preservation of the D-M-Z would be 
an obstacle to future opportunities.  For example, Mr. 
Lee says as North-South cooperation expands, they will 
want to reconnect railroads and highways across the 
Demilitarized Zone. 
            // LEE ACT ONE // 
      We have very strong opposition from private 
      business, especially from South Korean 
      businesses (which) are trying to develop the 
      North Korean industrial complex, as well as they 
      try to rebuild some bridges and roads and 
      reconnect rails.  So, we have strong opposition.  
      Also, the local government is trying to oppose 
      our ideas because their land prices will drop if 
      the region has been preserved.
            // END ACT // 
Mr. Lee, who is with New York University's Institute 
of Public Administration, points out the Demilitarized 
Zone is under the jurisdiction of the U-N Armistice 
Commission.  Therefore, he says neither side can take 
unilateral action regarding the future use or 
development of the D-M-Z.
// OPT //  He says a complicating factor will be the 
presence of landmines throughout the zone.  Their 
locations are not known and are constantly changing 
because of floods and landslides.  // END OPT //
Mr. Lee says the D-M-Z Forum is working with people in 
South Korea, China, and Japan to survey the plant and 
animal life along the Demilitarized Zone.
            // OPT // LEE ACT TWO //
      We have to carefully survey the region as a 
      whole and decide which region is very important 
      for nature conservation and which can be rather 
      limited (where) we can allow some of the 
      sustainable development facilities.
            // END ACT // END OPT //
And Mr. Lee says the D-M-Z Forum is also trying to 
educate the people and governments on both sides in 
Korea about the importance of preserving the area's 
environment. 
Professor Ke Chung Kim says the previous South Korean 
government, under President Kim Young Sam, publicly 
called for the D-M-Z to be preserved.  But he says the 
current government of President Kim Dae Jung has not 
made that a priority.  He says North Korea has 
indicated it does not object to preserving the area 
for conservation and peace. 
Professor Kim says he hopes that, as the North and 
South hold further talks, the idea of preserving the 
D-M-Z will be put on the agenda. 
He says both sides need to understand that protecting 
the environment in the D-M-Z does not run counter to 
economic development.  He says environmental 
preservation is beneficial to the long-term 
sustainability of economic development in both North 
and South Korea.   (Signed)
NEB/SMN/RAE
12-Jul-2000 12:07 PM EDT (12-Jul-2000 1607 UTC)
NNNN
Source: Voice of America
.





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