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Development Overview

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Overview of Korea’s development experience

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Development Overview
Territorial Development Environment

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Environment

Environmental protection

It was in the late 1960s, as the country was industrializing, that the government and public became interested in environmental issues, which initially focused on the issues of health and hygiene. The environment emerged as a top policy issue in the early 1970s, when waste and wastewater from urban and industrial areas was blamed as the main sources of pollution. Demands to protect the environment increased rapidly in the 1980s in response to frequent pollution accidents and a change in the public’s attitude toward the environment.

In the 1990s, the Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) phenomenon became prevalent. A series of environmental and economic policies were adopted to reduce the release of pollutants, along with systems designed to coordinate development with conservation efforts. In the 2000s, there were increasing public demands for a qualitative improvement in living standards. The government adopted a land environmental policy that required land development plans to be assessed for their environmental impact, with the goal of preserving and protecting ecological systems and promoting green growth.

The success in reforestation is one of South Korea’s most prominent achievements. In the 1970s, coal briquettes replaced wood as a fuel, thus reducing the demand for wood harvested from the forest. The tree volume per ha increased 17.5 times from 5.6 per ha in 1952 to 97.8 per ha by 2007. It is particularly noteworthy that the per capita tree volume/ha ratio increased 7.4 times from 1.7 per ha to 12.9 per ha between 1952 and 2007 despite the rapid increase in population.

One of the most serious environmental issues is global warming. The government is pushing a “Low Carbon and Green Growth” strategy to help solve this problem. Korea has also taken steps to protect the environment by reducing industrial pollution. It is taking part in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and promote green growth initiatives.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.