TITLE=PRESERVING KOREA'S D-M-Z
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
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
// 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
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
// 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
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)
12-Jul-2000 12:07 PM EDT (12-Jul-2000 1607 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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