Viridian Note 00423: Korean Involuntary Park
- Key concepts
- Viridian Involuntary Parks, Korean
Demilitarized Zone, tigers, Tiger Man
Attention Conservation Notice:
- Full of daffy local
color, but from a widely known New York publication.
Man, I sure am logging the mileage.
Every fan of spimes should make it a point
to read the CASPIAN newsletter.
"Metal Rubber." Really? More or less.
They're literally importing coal to Newcastle.
- New York Times, September 5, 02004
"Does a Tiger Lurk in the Middle of a Fearful Symmetry?
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
(((Hey, good one, Mr Headline Man)))
Published: September 5, 2004
"HORWON, South Korea – From atop an observatory hard on
the southern limit of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,
Lim Sun Nam peered through binoculars at the cold-war spectacle below.
He paid no attention to the barbed wire fences, the guard posts with
rifle-toting soldiers, or the propaganda billboards on the northern side
exclaiming 'Against America' and 'Prosperity of the People.'
"No, Mr. Lim took in the verdant hills undulating across
strip of land and the river snaking through it here in one of the DMZ's
most scenic points. His eyes searched for the deer, wild pigs and
pheasants living in the zone as well as the elusive animal whose
existence here he has spent the last seven years trying to prove: the tiger.
"Although Mr. Lim may or may not find the tiger,
have recognized this area – one of the most enduring symbols of the
cold war and one of the most fortified and heavily mined stretches on
earth – as the Korean peninsula's, and possibly East
most important wildlife refuge. They have been pressing to preserve
it but are feeling a special urgency now because of the growing
reconciliation between the North and the South.
"The environmentalists fear that a South Korea that puts
economic development first and a North Korea that has no
environmental movement could together lead to the zone's
rapid destruction as a refuge. (((Have they fully considered the
benefits of the new Israeli wall?)))
"This natural barrier traverses wetlands, rice paddies,
hills, forests and mountains for more than 150 miles. Enclosed by
barbed wire and left virtually untouched since it was created in
1953, the zone has become a haven for animals, birds and
plants that are seldom seen elsewhere on the peninsula.
"Migratory birds, including the endangered black-faced
spoonbill and the white-naped and red-crowned cranes,
fly in and out, oblivious to land barriers. Rare animals like
the Asiatic black bear, the Eurasian lynx, goral
and maybe even the tiger – make this area their year-round home.
"But these days, thousands of South Koreans pass every
through an eastern corridor to a resort in North Korea; on the
western side, a new highway and a railroad linking the two
sides have been built. (((Oh, the humanity.)))
"'The DMZ is the last major vestige of Korea's natural
said Kim Ke Chung, a professor at the Center for BioDiversity Research
at Penn State and chairman of the DMZ Forum, an organization
based in the United States that is dedicated to preserving the zone.
'It's probably the only good thing to come out of the Korean War and
cold war. So we have to preserve this as a nature reserve.'
(((How did the Cold War become the "cold war" all of a sudden?)))
"The DMZ Forum recently held a conference in Seoul to
support for designating the zone a Unesco World Heritage Site,
a classification that would curb all development. William B. Shore,
secretary of the forum and a former fellow at the Regional Plan
Association of New York, said the zone should become a center
for eco-tourism as an alternative to turning it into a weekend
getaway for residents of Seoul.
"'People are now willing to pay large sums to see wild
in the proper setting,' Mr. Shore said. 'Eco-tourism would protect
the DMZ from becoming the Hamptons of South Korea.' (
((Perhaps it's possible to transform the Hamptons into a DMZ.)))
"South Korea and North Korea, however, would have to ask
for World Heritage status. North Korea has shown no interest in
the issue, said Sohn Hak Kyu, governor of Kyonggi Province,
which abuts the zone and was host for the conference.
A unified peninsula would focus on North Korea's economic
development, and prewar landowners could lay claim to pieces
of the zone, Mr. Sohn said.
"'There will be strong resistance from North and South
to such a designation,' he said.
"Although South Korea has not expressed support for the
designation, it has begun recognizing the zone's natural legacy.
Early this year, South Korea's National Tourism Organization
proposed creating an eco-tourism center here in Chorwon,
an area about 60 miles northeast of Seoul and famous for
its bird-watching. Tourists would be permitted just south
of the zone in a so-called civilian-controlled area, a heavily
militarized zone that includes cordoned-off minefields and
roads flanked by antitank defenses.
"Lim Sun Nam believes an elusive tiger or two may live
in the uninhabited and unspoiled DMZ. 'The Korean spirit is
still alive there,' he says. (((Yeah, the spirit and those landmines.)))
"South Korea built ecologically friendly safeguards into
new road and railroads, with so-called eco-bridges and eco-tunnels
to allow animals to cross safely over or under the roads. North Korea,
which initially suspected that the crossings served some military
purpose, has not shown any interest in building similar
into its portions of the roads, Mr. Sohn said.
"For some South Koreans, the zone represents something
than a natural paradise. It is the only tract of land that has remained
intact from before Korea was divided. As a last refuge for species no
longer seen elsewhere, but off limits to all but a few Koreans, it
represents a spiritual loss to some.
"The tiger symbolizes that loss more than any other
Tigers once populated the peninsula and, in traditional culture,
were considered holy animals embodying a mountain deity.
The tiger's importance in Korean culture was underscored
during the 1988 Seoul Olympics, when it was chosen as
South Korea's mascot. The last tigers were believed to have
been hunted down by Japanese colonial rulers, which adds
to the animal's symbolic importance.
"Mr. Lim, who has been searching for the tiger for seven
years but has yet to see one, described his quest in a recent visit here.
"'I am searching not only for the tiger, but the spirit
he said. 'Because the DMZ is not polluted – it's preserved – the
Korean spirit is still alive there." (((The DMZ may lack pollution,
but the entire Pacific Rim is clearly awash with newage.)))
"Mr. Lim, 48, a former television cameraman and
filmmaker, has found and videotaped what appeared to be tiger
footprints inside the restricted civilian-controlled zone just south
of the DMZ. Since doing research on the tiger in the late 1990's,
Mr. Lim has devoted his life to his quest. Children call him Tiger Man.
He quit his job in 2001 and sold his house. He and his family
moved in with his older brother, who supports him but has
also pressed him to get a new job. ((("Get a new job, hippie!")))
"Some wildlife experts in South Korea believe that the
is extinct and that footprints seen by Mr. Lim belong to wild dogs.
Mr. Lim waves away such criticism, saying, 'You won't find tiger
footprints on college campuses.' (((Huh?)))
"He went to Siberia to learn how to track tigers and has
for them across stretches south of the zone, typically combing mountains
for footprints during the winter. His goal is to film one. But the futility
of the last seven years has sometimes taken its toll, plunging
Mr. Lim into bouts of uncertainty that were alleviated only by outside interest in his efforts.
"'One time I was in despair and told the tiger, 'I don't
you become extinct,'' Mr. Lim said, recalling a fruitless search
over several days in the mountain snow. 'I said, 'If you are a
spiritual animal, you should help me.' I decided to give up
my search for the tiger. But when I started going down the
mountain, I got a call on my mobile phone. It was an
to speak at a special conference on the tiger.'" (((At last, a
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK
THAT THIS MAGNIFICENT
BEAST SHOULD EAT A
COUPLE OF CAMERAMEN,
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O