Climate Change Adaptation in South Korea: Environmental Politics in the Agricultural Sector [1. Aufl.] 9783839430576

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Climate Change Adaptation in South Korea: Environmental Politics in the Agricultural Sector [1. Aufl.]

Table of contents :
Table of content
Acronyms and abbreviations
Climate Change Adaptation
The concept of climate change adaptation
Climate change adaptation in the scientific debate
Climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector
The epistemological status of the adaptation concept
The consequences of the epistemological stance for the political debate
Theoretical Stances
A mobile political agenda: adaptation to climate change
Networks of mobile political agendas
Actor-Network Theory
Translating a mobile political agenda
Actor-Network Theory and the Theory of Justification
The Theory of Justification: Examination of actors’ rationalities
Methodological approach based on Actor-Network Theory and Justification Theory
Empirical Study
South Korean environmental policy
The emergence of environmental policy
Environmental Reviews: Green Korea and Ecorea
The Green Growth Strategy
Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change (KACCC)
Projects and aims of KACCC
Concepts of climate change adaptation
The mobility of the adaptation agenda
Problematization of climate change in South Korea
Problematization according to sectors
Beyond problematization: justifications for climate change adaptation
Involvement of central governmental actors
Central actors in agriculture: Rural Development Administration
New agricultural technologies
Involvement of regional governmental actors
Actors in Gangwon: Climate Change Research Institute
Links between central and regional actors
CCAIS: Climate Change Adaptation Information System
The Agricultural Technology Center
Distant mobilization of farmers
Rural development and agricultural policy in Inje
Problematization of weather and climate change
Farming practices and limitations of coping
Linking the national and local
The top-down and bottom-up perspectives of climate change adapta tion
Continued way of traveling: Boosting adaptation
International climate change workshops
Boosting adaptation
Bridging developing and developed countries
Summary and outlook
The future of Gangwon: scenarios for a rural province

Citation preview

Susann Schäfer Climate Change Adaptation in South Korea

Social and Cultural Geography

Volume 7

Susann Schäfer is research and teaching associate in the Department of Economic Geography at the Friedrich-Schiller University Jena. Her research focus is climate and energy politics in East Asia, mobility of knowledge, and network theories.

Susann Schäfer

Climate Change Adaptation in South Korea Environmental Politics in the Agricultural Sector

The research presented in this book was carried out as part of the International Research Training Group TERRECO (GRK 1565/1) funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, and the Korean Research Foundation (KRF) at Gangwon National University, Chuncheon, South Korea.

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at © 2015 transcript Verlag, Bielefeld

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Cover layout: Kordula Röckenhaus, Bielefeld Cover illustration: © Michael Wegener and Susann Schäfer, Universität Bayreuth, 2014 Printed in Germany Print-ISBN 978-3-8376-3057-2 PDF-ISBN 978-3-8394-3057-6

Table of content

Introduction  | 11

C limate C hange A daptation The concept of climate change adaptation  | 23 Climate change adaptation in the scientific debate | 23 Climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector | 29 The epistemological status of the adaptation concept | 35 The consequences of the epistemological stance for the political debate | 40

T heoretical S tances A mobile political agenda: adaptation to climate change  | 45 Networks of mobile political agendas | 51 Actor-Network Theory | 53 Translating a mobile political agenda | 58 Actor-Network Theory and the Theory of Justification | 62 The Theory of Justification: Examination of actors’ rationalities | 63 Methodological approach based on Actor-Network Theory and Justification Theory | 66

E mpirical S tudy South Korean environmental policy  | 77 The emergence of environmental policy | 80 Environmental Reviews: Green Korea and Ecorea | 84 The Green Growth Strategy | 88

Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change (K ACCC)  | 97 Projects and aims of KACCC | 101 Concepts of climate change adaptation | 103 The mobility of the adaptation agenda | 106

Problematization of climate change in South Korea  | 115 Problematization according to sectors | 124 Beyond problematization: justifications for climate change adaptation | 126 Involvement of central governmental actors  | 141 Central actors in agriculture: Rural Development Administration | 147 New agricultural technologies | 153

Involvement of regional governmental actors  | 161 Actors in Gangwon: Climate Change Research Institute | 161 Links between central and regional actors | 169 CCAIS: Climate Change Adaptation Information System | 170 The Agricultural Technology Center | 176

Distant mobilization of farmers  | 183 Rural development and agricultural policy in Inje | 183 Problematization of weather and climate change | 188 Farming practices and limitations of coping | 190 Linking the national and local | 198 The top-down and bottom-up perspectives of climate change adapta tion | 200 -

Continued way of traveling: Boosting adaptation  | 203 International climate change workshops | 205 Boosting adaptation | 212 Bridging developing and developed countries | 215

S ummar y

and outlook

Summary | 225 Reflections | 22 7 The future of Gangwon: scenarios for a rural province | 230

References  | 243


and abbreviations Adaptation and Mitigation Strategies: Supporting European Climate Policy Academy of Korean Studies Actor-Network Theory Asia Pacific Adaptation Network Association of Southeast Asian Nations Agriculture Technology Center Business As Usual Climate Change Adaptation Information Delivery System Clean Development Mechanism Conference of the Parties Climate Change Research Institute of Korea Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs European Union Food and Agriculture Organization Fédération Internationale de Football Association Green Climate Fund Green House Gases Geographic Information System Gross Domestic Product Genetically Modified Organism Gross National Product Gross Value Added Hydrofluorocarbon Intergovernmental Organization International Monetary Fund Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change Korean Environmental Institute Korea Federation for Environmental Movements Korea Environmental Policy Bulletin Korean Forest Research Institute Korean Meteorological Administration Gangwon National University Korean Statistical Information Service


Korean Rural Economic Institute Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ministry of Environment Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry of Health and Social Affairs National Agricultural Products Management Quality Service National Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan National Institute of Environmental Research Non-Governmental Organization National Research Council for Economics, Humanities, and Social Sciences Official Development Assistance Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Fluorocarbon Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Regional Climate Change Adaptation Strategies Rural Development Administration Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Republic of Korea Sulfurhexafluorid Saemul Undong Science and Technology Studies Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats Complex TERRain and ECOlogical Heterogeneity United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United Nations Environmental Program US Dollar World Wildlife Fund


Agriculture is both vulnerable to climate change and a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide, which have resulted in the warming of the atmosphere. On one hand, this sector is the most vulnerable to climate shifts and extreme weather events, such as drought, floods, storms, and temperature fluctuations. On the other hand, agriculture contributes directly and indirectly up to 15% of the total anthropogenic Green House Gases (GHG) on a global scale (IPCC 2007). Because climate change poses a risk to the livelihood of farmers and consumers, a public call for action to develop and implement mitigation and adaptation strategies by political actors can be heard. Based on scientific projections of climatic shifts, strategies for coping with climate change in agriculture are being developed in many countries around the world. Mitigation aims at reducing emissions of GHG in different sectors, as agreed in 1997 in the Kyoto Protocol, which has now expired. During the following COPs in Copenhagen, Cancún, and Durham, the negotiations did not lead to a binding commitment to GHG emission reduction. Adaptation, on the other hand, defined as “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities” (IPCC TAR, 2001 a), focuses on behavioral change by affected social actors, such as farmers in agriculture, and changes in governance structures. Due to the high sensitiveness of farming to climatic shifts, the urgency for action in agriculture seems to be higher than in other realms. However, the economic significance of agriculture in developed countries is often little compared to the industry and service sectors. Over the last decades, the share of agriculture in most developed countries has dec-


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

lined to a value lower than 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the number of employees in agriculture has decreased as well. In South Korea, the share of agriculture, including farming, forestry, and fishing, in the GDP has dropped from 26% in 1970 to 2.3% in 2010 (KOSIS 2013). This sharp fall can be explained by the rapid industrialization in South Korea. In Germany, this indicator also shows a decline, but only from 3.3% (1970, West Germany) to 0.7% in 2010 (Statistisches Bundesamt 2013). The low relevance of agriculture for national prosperity in developed countries means low urgency for political action in this sector, and instead other sectors are favored, such as health or major branches of industry. South Korean meteorological scientists argue that the Korean peninsula will be highly affected by climate change (Chung YS et al. 2004, Lee MH et al. 2012) and therefore farming patterns will change, and farmers will have to adapt to climate change. Extreme weather events, such as the heavy snowfall and typhoons in 2010, have raised awareness of possible future climate shifts. Despite the low importance of agriculture in terms of the national economy, agriculture in rural areas has functions that go beyond economic purposes. It has “many roles on the national level, such as food security, conservation of the national territory and the environment, and many social functions, including the maintenance of farm villages, prevention of city congestion, providing employment in the agricultural industry, and support of aged populations” (KREI 2010: 488). The central question in this book is how the government of a developed country, South Korea, deals with the situation of agriculture, a sector which has a low economic output but other important functions, and which will be highly affected by climate change. The subject of this case study, South Korea, is an interesting example, given that industrialization and the decreased importance of agriculture have changed within a few decades. Whereas in 1960, the GDP per capita was $79 in South Korea, this value has increased to $31,753, which matches to the $31,607 of the European Union. This fundamental change from an agriculture-based rural society to an urban industry- and service-focused society challenges the agricultural population, the importance of its business, and the rural space. These issues are important not only in the South Korean case, but also in many developed countries which are confronted with similar challenges. Studies on adaptation to climate change in agriculture tend to focus on developing countries because of the economic relevance of this sector for


the development of the country and the high vulnerability of the affected farmers (Dinar et al. 2012). The literature on adaptation to climate change in developed countries has stressed the perception of climate change and the individual coping strategies of farmers (Reidsma et al. 2010, Leclère et al. 2013, Arbuckle Jr. et al. 2013). Figure 1: Map of South Korea



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Political interventions in the adaptation process of farmers have rarely been examined in previous studies, given that most governments of developed countries have started to develop and implement adaptation strategies only recently, mostly around 2009-2010 (for example, EU White Paper “Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action” 2009). They have shown how farmers adapt to climate change without political intervention and how they try to cope with climatic shifts as well as they can. The purpose of political interventions can be to initiate or to facilitate adaptation to climate change by farmers. The interventions address different scales because there are national, regional, and local actors who are involved in the development and realization of adaptation strategies. Previous studies have focused on one scale but have neglected the interrelations between these scales. This study tries to fill this gap. In the literature corpus on adaptation to climate change, the concept of adaptation is widely understood as a “good” agenda which benefits all involved actors. This concept has hardly been criticized by social scientists, so that it has almost a paradigmatic standing in social-science-related climate change research. It is a shortcoming of the current adaptation literature not to examine the adaptation concept critically and not to understand adaptation to climate change as an instrument through which political actors accomplish their interests and exert power. Adaptation to climate change, understood as a political agenda, has two distinctive features: first, it is closely entangled with scientific research on climate change, so that the border between science and policy is blurry; second, the adaptation concept is a political agenda which is discussed by actors on a global scale (global climate politics) and implemented by national actors (national governments, ministries) and local actors (NGOs, local governments). In this sense, one can understand adaptation to climate change as a mobile policy that has a common message (mostly referring to IPCC) and specific local implementation characteristics. This study understands adaptation to climate change as a mobile policy. In the light of the above-mentioned problems and shortcomings of the existing literature, this study examines the political adaptation process in the agricultural sector in South Korea on the national, regional, and local scales and aims to understand how political activities on these different scales are interrelated. The national scale refers to national actors in the capital city, Seoul, the regional scale is represented by Gangwon Province in the North East of


South Korea, and the villages in Inje County constitute the local level (Fig. 1). Gangwon Province is the least populated province in South Korea and has witnessed a decline of agriculture in the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) and massive emigration. For each scale, there are specific research questions (Fig. 2). On the national scale, the most important governmental actor in terms of climate change adaptation is the Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change (KACCC) founded in 2009. The purpose of this center, which is attached to the Korean Environmental Institute (KEI), is to conduct research on adaptation strategies, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability. This adaptation “think tank” is intended to prepare, organize and channel South Korean adaptation to climate change. In 2010, researchers from the Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change supervised the formulation of a basic adaptation plan in which 20 governmental agencies, independent institutes, and universities were involved and shared their expertise. The research question for this scale is: How do KACCC actors negotiate and justify adaptation to climate change? And, what is the role of agriculture? Justifications given by the national actors are meaningful because they show which rationalities lie behind national adaptation strategies. This general perspective on the national scale was chosen in order to understand the relevance of agriculture compared to other sectors. On the regional scale, the focus of this study was confined to adaptation in agriculture. The leading question is: What are the regional adaptation strategies in agriculture for Gangwon Province and which actors are involved here? The main actor on this scale is the Climate Change Research Institute for Korea (CRIK) in Chuncheon, a governmental actor that prepares and organizes regional adaptation strategies. Interestingly, CRIK published its regional adaptation plan earlier than the national adaptation plan (supervised by KACCC), although one would expect the implementation of adaptation to climate change to be highly regulated by the state, moving top-down from national actors to regional level offices, and further down to the local population in cities and villages. Here the relation between national (KACCC, RDA) and regional (CRIK) actors was of interests for understanding the relevance of scale in the process of implementing adaptation in agriculture. During the study it became clear that adaptation strategies in agriculture were not implemented in Gangwon Province or Inje County. This means that adaptation-related connections between the regional and the local scales did not exist. This


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

led to two shifts of the research focus. On the local scale, therefore, it was asked how do farmers deal with climatic changes (anyway) and what role does climate change play for the future of agriculture in this region. The

Figure 2: Research design



second shift was to ask why the implementation of adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector has been delayed. This leads in turn to questions concerning the general standing of agriculture and the purpose of the adaptation concept for central actors. The various connections between national, regional, and local actors constitute an “adaptation-network”. A theoretical framework for analysing the South Korean adaptationnetwork is provided by Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and Justification Theory. A basic premise of ANT is that the categories “nature” and “society” are not two separate realms but that our knowledge of natural phenomena, such as climate change, is a product of scientific practices and therefore inextricable from social processes. However, many studies on climate change and adaptation treat the environment as an entity outside of the social realm. Swyngedouw argues that the blurry line between science and politics in the climate-change debate leads to the acceptance of scientific “truths” in the political realm, what he calls “matters of fact”, which turn without political discussion into “matters of concern”. The paradigmatic status of the adaptation concept in the social sciences is a major reason why it has become such an important concept in the governance of the environment. In order to examine the development and the implementation of adaptation critically, it is suggested that this concept should be seen as a political agenda, because this stresses its appropriation of different actors in the light of their particular interests. The chapter “A mobile political agenda” describes how the appropriation of adaptation on different scales can be examined. The notion of a “mobile policy” underlines the movement of the policy. For tracing this movement and for seeing how actors develop and implement this policy, a theoretical approach that respects the mobility of the research object is needed. ANT is a suitable approach for such an examination, because it includes both the notion of actors, human and non-human, and the notion of a network that is created through the scalar interactions between the involved actors. Justification Theory adds the notion of rationality of actors in the network. It is a valuable aid to understanding the actors’ beliefs and actions. In the network, actors work on, negotiate, justify, and give meaning to adaptation policy, which results in a “translation”, a mutation, of this policy in South Korea. In order to understand this translation process in detail, it is necessary to examine the following steps structuring the process: problematization, interessement, enrolement, mobilization, and



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

propagation. The first four steps have been developed by Michael Callon, whiles the fifth step is added in this thesis to illustrate the propagation of adaptation from the national to the global scale. These five steps and the research questions can be combined. The problematization step is crucial to understanding how the political adaptation process in agriculture is realized on different scales. All actors problematize climate change and this is a necessity for any adaptation policy. However, the problematization of climate change differs according to the actors. Farmers have a different image of climate change from the political actors in KACCC and CRIK. The translation process of adaptation policy has its starting point on the national scale, at KACCC, and follows the actors’ activities on the national and the regional scales. Since KACCC is the starting point of this study, a kind of “anchor actor”, the empirical part starts with a chapter on the activities and processes within KACCC. The chapter focuses on the problematization of climate change by national actors and the justifications they provide for adaptation policy. The next two steps, interessement and enrolement, describe how KACCC, as the central actor, involves other governmental actors in the implementation of sectoral adaptation strategies, such as the Rural Development Administration (RDA) in the agricultural sector. Interessement and enrolement occur not only on the national scale, among central governmental actors, but also between national and regional actors, for instance between KACCC, CRIK in Chuncheon, and RDA. These chapters illustrate regional adaptation strategies and explain the connection between the national and regional scales. The fourth step, mobilization of farmers through political interventions (laws, regulations, subsidies, information service), seemed not to exist, although a change in farming practices and land use based on political interventions is the goal of adaptation policy. Therefore, one may speak of “distant mobilization” in the South Korean case because of the lack of implementation of political strategies. Despite the lack of political interventions with regard to adaptation to climate change, some farmers cope individually with climate change, but their adjustments are due not only to environmental changes, but also and foremost to economic and social changes. The regional case study is focused on Gangwon Province, and a comparison with other provinces has shows that Gangwon is a lone mover and the only province with a regional governmental actor (CRIK) focussing on climate change adaptation. This thesis seeks to understand


the reasons why the implementation of adaptation strategies in agriculture is stagnant. One reason is the different purpose of adaptation seen by national actors in this concept. The argument of the propagation of adaptation, or “adaptation boosterism”, is explained in the last empirical chapter, “Continued way of traveling: Boosting adaptation”, which focuses again on the national scale.


Climate Change Adaptation

The concept of climate change adaptation

Adaptation to climate change is a scientific concept which has become a significant agenda in the global environmental governance. It is a topic that is present both in the scientific and in the political discourse and there are strong interrelations between these two discourses. While mitigation of the effects of climate change was previously given greater consideration in the political debates, the concept of climate change adaptation has gained significance in recent years. The IPCC reports, for example, can be classified as a major interface between the scientific and governance realms, in which scientists and political actors take part. The rationale for the intensification of international governance in environmental matters is that the risks of climate change cannot be managed by each country alone. The first significant event in the governance of climate change was the First World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979. Nine years later, in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change was founded, and the first conference of the parties took place in 1992 (COP 1) in Rio de Janeiro, where the Framework for Climate Change Convention (FCCC) was signed. In this convention the parties formulated their commitments in terms of mitigation of and adaptation to climate change for the first time (Article 4).

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change adap tation in the scientific debate

In the debate on climate change in the social sciences, the adaptation concept has gained a prominent position when it comes to the question how


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

human actors may cope with climate change. It can be observed that the debate on adaptation has become more intense in the past years, especially in many humanities and social sciences, including human geography. A review done for this thesis in the databases JSTOR, Science Direct, Wiley, and Geodok (for German publications) has revealed that the trend in publishing on climate change adaptation is positive and has accelerated since 2006. Figure 3 shows the number of scientific articles that name “climate change” and “adaptation” in their abstracts published on ScienceDirect. Bassett and Fogelman (2013) show the same positive trend with regard to adaptation-related publications for the journals Global Environmental Change, Climate and Development, Climatic Change, and Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Figure 3: The number of articles referring to climate change and adaptation on Science Direct

Source: Science Direct, January 30th, 2013

Although this concept has became very prominent in the social sciences and humanities, there are also publications in the natural sciences (for example neuroscience, or biology) on the adaptation of species other than human beings to a changing environment. These publications consider not only climate change but also generally changing patterns in evolutionary development. The development of the adaptation concept in the social sciences has involved the addition of other concepts, like vulnerability (Heltberg et al. 2009, Pearce & Smit 2003, or “Climate vulnerabi-

The concept of climate change adaptation

lity”, a journal edited by R. Pielke), resilience (Klein 2003, Perez 2011), and adaptive capacity (Gupta et al. 2010, Smit & Wandel 2006), which partly originated from the natural sciences. These concepts help to sustain the adaptation concept as the primary answer to the question of how to cope with climate change. Kuhn explains that in the development of a paradigm in science, a particular vocabulary as well as refinement of the terms will lead to a narrowing-down of the scientific perspective of the paradigm and to resistance to paradigm change (Kuhn 1988: 77). The aforementioned concepts of vulnerability, resilience, and adaptive capacity can be understood as such refinements. In the literature corpus of the social sciences, it seems that adaptation to climate change has been generally accepted as a leading agenda, as Duchrow writes exemplarily: “Now that the need for adaptation to climate change has been generally accepted as an immediate priority, it is time to bundle the knowledge and focus on how to adapt.” (Duchrow 2001: 3) Central to the scientific debate on this concept are four English flagship publications from recent years: “The Earthscan reader on adaptation to climate change”, “Climate change and adaptation”, “Adapting to climate change: thresholds, values, governance”, and “Adaptation to climate change: From Resilience to Transformation” (Schipper & Burton 2009, Leary et al. 2008, Adger et al. 2009, Pelling (eds) 2010). All four books incorporate diverse perspectives collectively stressing the significance of adaptation to climate change. The meaning of adaptation is expressed as follows: “We already know that adaptation is necessary – the impacts of climate change are already apparent or in some cases predictable with some certainty.” (Adger et al. 2009: 2) Similarly, one reads in the introduction of “Climate Change and Adaptation” that “we can adapt to climate change and limit the harm, or we can fail to adapt and risk much more severe consequences” (Leary et al. 2008: 1). These two quotations show that many scientists see no alternative to adaptation, and that they think it would be a fatal error not to adapt. In the German adaptation research community, the same narrative is present: “Consequences of climate change hold various risks as well as opportunities. With this in mind, it is prudent to take preventive action in order to adapt to the already visible and continually intensifying climate changes.” (Frommer et al. 2011: 14) The role of the social sciences has been enhanced in the debate on climate change through the emphasis on adap-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

tation as a concept that stresses the behavior change of human actors and changes in the structure of governmental institutions. Grothmann argues that climate change is a “societal problem which is insufficiently analyzed by natural and engineering science models and methods” (Grothmann et al. 2011: 84). He stresses the significance of the social sciences in the climate change debate, and later on emphasizes the role and responsibility of social scientists in the part of the climate change debate that focuses on adaptation. The dominant narrative that climate change adaptation is crucial and the range of different scientific disciplines that analyze solutions to climate change, such as adaptation, are indicators of the liveliness of the scientific debate. Another sign of the established position of the adaptation concept is the foundation of research institutions, and the organization of conferences with this concept as a central theme. In 2000, the prominent Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research was founded. One of the two general objectives of this institution given on their webpage is to “explore, evaluate and facilitate sustainable routes for adapting to climate change through policy, behavioral and technological innovation and robust decision-support tools”1. An example of a large research cooperation group working with the adaptation concept is the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER) which, in 2009, published the study “Europe Adapts to Climate Change”. PEER is a network of seven large European environmental research centers. In this report, the authors review and compare 14 national adaptation strategies in order to provide “sound and policy-relevant information to Europe’s decision makers” (Swart 2009: foreword). A second example of an adaptation research network is the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility in Australia that holds a large annual “National Adaptation Conference”. In 2012, this conference took place in Melbourne with almost 700 scientists and practitioners focusing “on the information needed to ensure Australia is adapting well to climate change”2 . In South Korea, the scientific discussion on adaptation started around 2005, but the majority of studies were published from 2009 on. The first important publication is the research proposal “Climate Change Impacts 1 |, August 12th, 2012. 2 |, 2012.



The concept of climate change adaptation

Assessment and Development of Adaptation Strategies in Korea” by Han et al., published in 2005. In the following years, regional and local studies were carried out, for example on the provinces of North Jeolla (Chang & An 2009) and Gyeonggi (Koh & Choi 2008). Interestingly, most studies were published by researchers in public or private research institutes like KEI, the Korea Transport Institute, and RDA, and not by university scientists. These institutes are dependent on either the ministries, private financing or the allocation of public funding. For this reason, the projects were more focused on applications. However, the narrative of the necessity of climate change adaptation is present in the South Korean debate. Lee says that “industrial adaptation to climate change is especially important in Korea since industrial performance will directly affect the general welfare of its people” (Lee JS 2010: 357). In the empirical chapter on the problematization of climate change, it will be shown that the dominant narrative of climate change adaptation as the urgent solution to climate change problems is repeated in political negotiations. A closer look at geographical adaptation studies shows that adaptation research deals mainly with two aspects: first, the assessment of climate change impacts in a particular geographical area or in a particular sector as a necessary preliminary to further social inquiry, and second, the presentation of possible adaptation scenarios to prevent the negative consequences of climate change. Exemplary studies with such a structure have focused on sectors like water management (Bormann et al. 2012), agriculture (Reidsma et al. 2010, Burton & Lim 2005), coastal zones (Sterr 2008), or specific population groups and selected spatial areas (entire countries, or certain categories such as the urban or rural space). At the same time, core geographical issues are discussed in relation to adaptation, for instance demography (Tacoli 2009, Bailey 2010), questions of development and adaptation in the global South (Huq & Reid 2004), spatial conflicts (the entire issue of Political Geography August 2007), and land use planning (Birkmann & Fleischhauer 2009). Besides geographical adaptation research, there are other disciplines in which researchers have worked with the concept of adaptation. These disciplines include political science, law, health science (Ebi & Burton 2006, Spickett et al. 2011), economics (Hasson et al. 2010, Hughes et al. 2010), energy and food research (Lucena et al. 2010, Kopytko & Perkins 2011, Ziervogel & Erick-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

sen 2010), and ethics (Thomas & Twyman 2005, Paavola & Adger 2006, Grasso 2010, Thompson & Bendik-Keymer 2012). The application of the adaptation concept in different academic disciplines has resulted in distinct shapings of this concept to match existing research foci and interests. In this regard, the definition of adaptation stays the same while the context varies, so that one could speak of a high flexibility of the adaptation concept. Mark Pelling says in this regard that the term adaptation is very “slippery” in the sense that the concept is broadly interpreted (Pelling 2011: 8-13, Head 2010), or, to borrow the words of Bassett and Fogelmann, “it means different things to different people” (2013: 46). Two examples will serve to illustrate this thought: cost-benefit analysis is a common concept in economics which focuses on weighing up the pros and cons of something in monetary terms. In 2009, at the first workshop of the German research community on adaptation (KVA) in Leipzig, one of the speakers presented a cost-benefit analysis of adaptation strategies in order to show which is the most effective strategy (other examples: Callaway 2004, Getzner 2008). Second, research on development in the global South is characterized by the adaptation concept, the successor of concepts such as sustainability, participation, community-based development (Sietz et al. 2011, Klein et al. 2005). The development discourse is dominated by the adaptation concept, but the value which this concept contributes to the debate may be questioned. The adaptation concept has been incorporated into many research studies as a core concept, but these studies are often application-centered and present best-practice examples. Since the definition of adaptation is rather vague, it can easily be applied to an already existing context. As a result, the concept of adaptation has not been theoretically enhanced and refined. This has been brought up as a critique in the German research community on adaptation (for example during the second social science workshop on adaptation research, January 11th-12th, 2011, in Oldenburg, documentation p. 6), but expectations in this respect have hardly been fulfilled. The question is how to deal with the adaptation concept? This thesis does not rely on this theoretical concept and reasons for this will be given in the following chapters. However, the adaptation concept can serve as an indicator of the processes in a political network that are influenced by the feed-in of a new political idea.

The concept of climate change adaptation

Although most scientific publications on adaptation to climate change do not question the adaptation concept itself, and take the need to adapt for granted, in some publications there are reflections on the ontology of the adaptation paradigm (Adger & Barnett 2009, Eakin & Patt 2011). In Berrang-Ford et al. 2011, the authors explain with the help of four arguments why the adaptation concept is not a one-way street for successfully coping with climate change. The most important argument is the risk of maladaptation by restricting adaptation solely to climate factors and not considering other major factors (economic, demographical, political) in a specific context. The notion of maladaptation means that the consequences of such adaptation processes could be negative. It is clear that many researchers know about the weaknesses of the adaptation concept. This generally leads to remarks that the methodological approach and the terms of application need to be refined, but a fundamental critique of the adaptation concept is rare. It is characteristic of the scientific debate in general that the adaptation concept has a dominant, if not a paradigmatic, position and that therefore a fundamental critique of this concept which would include a consideration of the consequences of its application is rarely formulated. The questions at the center of the debate oftentimes evolve around how adaptation can be achieved, for example what instruments are suitable and which changes are required. The following section focuses on adaptation in agriculture, which is a specific part of the scientific debate.

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change adap tation in the agricultur al


Agriculture is one of the sectors in which specific political adaptation agendas have been launched in the past years and research projects have been formulated and conducted. It is said that research in this domain is crucial and political agendas are necessary because agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate shifts and extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, storms, and temperature fluctuations (FAO 2007, McCarl 2010).



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Since the UNFCCC required national governments to implement national and regional programs of adaptation (Art. 4.1.b), there have been many countries in which the government has launched agriculture-focused adaptation programs and projects. The spectrum of adaptation strategies is different depending on the physical geographical features of a country, as well as political and societal structures. The focus of research on climate change adaptation in agriculture is on developing countries (Mertz et al. 2009, Maddison 2007, Gwimbi 2009). Barnes and Toma argue that the reason for this tendency is the more fragile economic and resource environments in which farmers operate (Barnes & Toma 2012: 509) there. Similarly, the FAO stresses the significance of climate change adaptation in developing countries by arguing that one of the key challenges would be “to assist countries that are constrained by limited economic resources and infrastructure, low levels of technology, poor access to information and knowledge, inefficient institutions, and limited empowerment and access to resources” (FAO 2007: 12). Compared to case studies of developing countries, the number of studies focusing on developed countries in terms of adaptation in agriculture is much lower. The focus here is on particular modes of perception and behavior (Arbuckle Jr. et al. 2013, Barnes & Toma 2010), involved private companies (like water supply, Arnell & Delaney 2006), and the effect of selected governmental interventions, like crop insurance (Bryant et al. 2000). Although there are many local adaptation studies that consider local social and political contexts (Finan et al. 2002), only a small part of the current literature considers the implementation of adaptation projects initiated by national governments in the aftermath of global climate change politics and their implementation across different scales. In the academic discourse, the debate on adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector has been lively. Morris and Burgess write that in general farmers will need to adapt to changes in weather patterns, water availability and possible pests and disease problems (2012: 19). The emphasis in this debate, however, is on how farmers can adapt to climate change and what adaptation strategies might be suitable, instead of how adaptation is actually practiced by the involved actors. The emphasis is thus on the potential modes of implementation rather than on analysis of how strategies are implemented and on the consequences for the agricultural actors involved. An evaluation of adaptation programs can be either outcome- or

The concept of climate change adaptation

process-oriented. Focusing on the outcome like most studies do, means estimating the efficiency of an initiative and comparing in- and output, whereas a more process-oriented approach considers the development and implementation process as well as interrelations between the actors. According to the OECD, the role of political governance in the promotion of adaptation to climate change is to reduce the vulnerability of those least able to adapt, and to provide information to stimulate widespread adoption of adaptation techniques and opportunities (Wreford 2010: 13f.), which are processes that should be critically examined. The most detailed overview of potential adaptation strategies, both for farmers and governmental actors in agriculture, is provided by Smit and Skinner (2002): TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS Crop development • Develop new crop varieties, including hybrids, to increase the tolerance and suitability of plants to temperature, moisture and other relevant climatic conditions. Weather and climate information systems • Develop early warning systems that provide daily weather predictions and seasonal forecasts. Resource management innovations • Develop water management innovations, including irrigation, to address the risk of moisture deficiencies and increasing frequency of droughts. • Develop farm-level resource management innovations to address the risk associated with changing temperature, moisture and other relevant climatic conditions GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS AND INSURANCE Agricultural subsidy and support programs • Modify crop insurance programs to influence farm-level risk management strategies with respect to climate-related loss of crop yields. • Change investment in established income-stabilization programs to influence farm-level risk management strategies with respect to climate-related income loss. • Modify subsidy, support and incentive programs to influence farmlevel production practices and financial management.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Change ad hoc compensation and assistance programs to share publicly the risk of farm-level income loss associated with disaster and extreme events. Private insurance • Develop private insurance to reduce climate-related risks to farm-level production, infrastructure and income. Resource management programs • Develop and implement policies and programs to influence farm-level land and water resource use and management practices in light of changing climate conditions. FARM PRODUCTION PRACTICES Farm production • Diversify crop types and varieties, including crop substitution, to address the environmental variations and economic risks associated with climate change. • Diversify livestock types and varieties to address the environmental variations and economic risks associated with climate change. • Change the intensification of production to address the environmental variations and economic risks associated with climate change. Land Use • Change the location of crop and livestock production to address the environmental variations and economic risks associated with climate change. • Use alternative fallow and tillage practices to address climate changerelated moisture and nutrient deficiencies. Land topography • Change land topography to address the moisture deficiencies associated with climate change and reduce the risk of farm land degradation. Irrigation • Implement irrigation practices to address the moisture deficiencies associated with climate change and reduce the risk of income loss due to recurring drought. Timing of operations • Change timing of farm operations to address the changing duration of growing seasons and associated changes in temperature and moisture.

The concept of climate change adaptation

FARM FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT Crop insurance • Purchase crop insurance to reduce the risks of climate-related income loss. Crop shares and futures • Invest in crop shares and futures to reduce the risks of climate-related income loss. Income stabilization programs • Participate in income stabilization programs to reduce the risk of income loss due to changing climate conditions and variability. Household income • Diversify source of household income in order to address the risk of climate-related income loss. Source: Smit & Skinner 2002: 96-97

This list shows that there are many different dimensions of adaptation in agriculture. The main focus of the scientific literature, as in the article by Smit and Skinner (2002), is, however, the description of potential adaptation strategies in agriculture which have not yet been examined in terms of their implementation in concrete case studies (Salinger et al. 2000, Burton & Lim 2005, Reidsma et al. 2010). Smit and Skinner argue that “there are many kinds of technological, public policy and farm management options with potential to moderate problematic climate change effects or to realize opportunities, reinforcing the view that the agricultural sector is very adaptable” (2002: 103-104). Wreford et al. indicate that these adaptation options involve different actors and scales, and include actions by producers, input and food industries and government agencies, individuals and public agencies (2010: 60). Yet such processes of adaptation, and the interaction between these different actors are rarely researched. There has been very little research on the likelihood that such adaptation measures would actually be adopted, or on the conditions under which such adaptations might be employed in the agri-food sector (Smit & Skinner 2002: 103-104, Lobell et al. 2008). Crane et al. even criticize the “absence of human agency in understanding real system dynamics” in approaches to adaptation to climate change “running afoul of the actions and positions of real people in implemen-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

tation” (2011: 180). This is the beginning of a critique of the adaptation concept underlining the discrepancy between the theoretical concept and the realities in which people live. Especially in the case of developed countries, studies of adaptation processes in agriculture are rare. Implementation processes are launched by political actors who address the need for adaptation to climate change on the part of the farmers. This domain has not been analyzed in detail. Major reasons are, first, that most of the political initiatives only started recently, in 2009-2010, so that the consequences of these political interventions have only now become examinable. Second, the situation in developed countries seems less critical due to the lower economic significance of agriculture, so that such studies have tended to focus on developing countries. In this text we have named the factors economic resources and infrastructure, low levels of technology, poor access to information and knowledge, inefficient institutions, and limited empowerment and access to resources as the key factors for hindering “successful” adaptation in agriculture. These factors are supposed to explain why some farmers are more vulnerable to climate change than others (Salinger et al. 2005). In developed countries, it seems that influencing factors like economic resources, access to information and knowledge, efficient institutions, empowerment and access to resources are given and therefore climate change is often categorized as an “opportunity” instead of a “threat” (Tol 2002). “Successful” adaptation to climate change in agriculture means a positive outcome of the adjustment, mostly considered in terms of economic growth for the farmers. Such assumptions however lead to an uncritical attitude towards the adaptation concept which will be discussed in the next chapter. Another problematic aspect of the study of adaptation or adaptive behavior of farmers is the isolation of this concept within the complex decision-making of the farmers. Wreford et al. argue that there is little evidence of behavioral change in either the public or private (adaptation) sector and that most of the examples are found at the national scale, in the devolved administrations and at the regional scale, with few examples at local levels. There appear to be very few, if any, adaptations that have been undertaken solely in response to expected climate change (2010: 65). Climatic change is only one influencing factor in the decisionmaking process of farmers and it is always difficult to determine whether

The epistemological status of adaptation

a change of attitude or farming practice is based on a specific perception of climate change.


epistemological status of the adap tation concep t

Bassett and Fogelmann (2013) show that the definition of the term adaptation in the three IPCC reports (1996, 2001, 2007; the term was not at all mentioned in the first IPCC report 1990) has slightly changed over this period of time and that the conceptualization of this term in the scientific debate has various facets (2013: 47-51). Their study of publications on “adaptation” shows that the majority of scholars follow the 2001 IPCC definition that conceptualizes adaptation as an adjustment to climate stimuli, as follows: “adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.” (IPCC 2001: 879) This definition contains two implicit assumptions. First, it implies two separate systems, a human and a natural domain. The climatic stimuli are seen as an input factor in the human system that will lead to adjustments in the social system. However, recent discussions on the ontology of climate change indicate that it cannot be understood either from a purely natural or from a purely social perspective, because it touches both domains (Hulme 2009, Dessler & Parson 2010, Demeritt 2002). In the 2001 IPCC definition, climate change is referred to as “climatic stimuli” and as an external influence, yet the causalities between human actors and climate change are evident. This nature-society dualism has been criticized: “The Western perception, in which the human and the natural are thought of separately, is the main cause of the ecological crisis today, according to many people in East Asia.” (Lee YH 1999: 48) What is the consequence of this implicit nature-society dualism for the definition of adaptation? One consequence is that there is hardly any reflection on the internal processes through which adaptation is shaped and implemented,



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

taking into account for example different perceptions of nature and the negotiation of the handling of natural resources. The second assumption is that the outcome of the adjustment processes can be either beneficial or harmful. Arguing that the definition of benefit and harm depends on the perspective of the individual, and that what is a benefit for one could be harmful to the other, it seems that this view of the consequences of adjustment fails to take into account the complexity of people’s livelihoods and the social practices that shape the relationship of human actors with nature. Swart writes that “adaptation is needed to tackle current problems or anticipate possible future changes, with the aim of reducing risk and damage cost-effectively, and perhaps even exploiting potential benefits” (2009: 25), but it is unclear whose risk, damage, and potential benefits he is talking about. The same adaptation strategy could favor one actor or group and discriminate against another. Therefore, implementation of the adaptation concept is not as simple as presented in the Toolkit for Designing Climate Change Adaptation Initiatives, an example of a how-to-adapt manual, which aims “to support all those involved in the design of measurable, verifiable, and reportable adaptation initiatives” (UNEP 2010: 4). The how-to-do instructions (ibid. 2010: 11) look like a straight manual: define the problem, identify the causes of the problem, develop a normative response, and identify and overcome key barriers. The formulation and implementation of adaptation according to such a manual will certainly miss the complex social realities. Given these two assumptions, two critical arguments against the validity of the adaptation concept can be adduced: the normativity of this concept, and the discrepancy between the theoretical concept implying a nature-society dualism and the livelihoods of people that might be affected positively or negatively by adaptation projects. From its own rationale, the adaptation concept is an approach intended to help humans to solve the problems caused by climate change for their own benefit. Nelson (2011) argues that adaptation is often portrayed as a “good” goal, as something good in itself. Adaptation studies are mostly characterized by management goals that first, are normative in nature, and, second, favor Western ideas of development, evidently in the developmental context (Trabert & Doevenspeck 2010: 6). Cannon and MüllerMahn argue on the same line that “concepts of development essentially involve notions of justice, equality and human rights, whereas this appears

The epistemological status of adaptation

to be less clear and obvious for adaptation” (Cannon & Müller-Mahn 2010: 631). Although the normativity of the adaptation concept seems to be more hidden, the goals of adaptation are loaded with specific values and are therefore normative. Even if adaptation could be achieved, legitimate concerns could be raised about the consequences of adaptation processes. Kates states that adaptation can create new inequalities, although it may be beneficial for some (2009: 284). Similarly, Wreford et al. warn that defining success “simply in terms of the effectiveness of meeting (...) objectives, is not sufficient” (2010: 72). “First, whilst an action may be successful in terms of one stated objective, it may impose externalities at other spatial and temporal scales – what appears successful in the short term turns out to be less successful in the longer term; second, whilst an action may be effective for the adapting agent, it may produce negative externalities and spatial spillovers, potentially increasing impacts on others or reducing their capacity to adapt” (Wreford et al. 2010: 72).

These thoughts show that the definition of a successful adaptation strategy and its implementation is not a distinct but a debatable territory. “Unlike climate change mitigation, the success of which ultimately may be measured in terms of a single metric such as greenhouse gas emissions avoided or atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, there is no easily definable single metric for adaptation. This is due to the fact that the functions and goals of adaptation will be different in different contexts” (Brooks et al. 2011: 14).

In this thesis, the adaptation concept is not primarily seen as a mere response (with normative goals, though there are obstacles), but as a negotiated idea in politics with specific actors who handle the concept of adaptation according to their interests. Similarly, Cannon and Müller-Mahn argue that adaptation is embedded in an institutional setting that needs to be critically assessed, especially as adaptation and adaptive governance tend to be depoliticized and reliant on approaches that play down the significance of self-interested actors who have disproportionate access to and control over ecosystems (2010: 626). The second argument is based on the discrepancy between the theoretical concept on the one hand and the complex livelihoods of humans



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

on the other hand. Social scientists assume that appropriate individual adaptive strategies to deal with the threat of climate change can be developed for specific contexts in which local characteristics are considered. Svendsen (2011: 23) argues in this vein: “The challenge for the future is to find and develop the appropriate mix of tested and new technologies, infrastructure investments, and better knowledge bases and new analytic tools with which to craft robust adaptation solutions”.

However, there are critical voices that indicate that such approaches have little relation to the social and material realities of people (Trabert & Doevenspeck 2010: 6). Especially with regard to adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector, Crane et al. (2011: 179) say that “unfortunately, many of these potential adaptation strategies are based on the business as usual approach or sometimes more harshly referred to as the dumb farmers approach”. They mean that the position of farmers as “innovators, creative technical actors, and socio-cultural actors” is not sufficiently considered in the formulation of adaptation strategies (ibid.). There is a tension in social science adaptation research that is rooted in the problem of reconciling a positivist conception of scientific neutrality with the claim to improve the situation of affected people. Actors who propose adaptation strategies rely on scientific data with regard to climate change as a natural phenomenon (such as temperature and precipitation data), and social statistics with regard to the people who will be affected by climate change. On these grounds adaptation strategies are developed, for example according to the aforementioned Toolkit for Designing Climate Change Adaptation Initiatives (UNEP). Such an approach however is a blueprint that does not consider local interests and social structures. With regard to agriculture, Crane et al. argue in the same manner when they write that “adaptation efforts based on an understanding of a theoretical agricultural system that does not consider the complex realities farmers face, may have some advantages, but the absence of real farmers and social contexts creates a gap between modelled adaptations and the realities of practice” (2011: 184). As Bassett and Fogelmann indicate, this is due to the avoidance of politics and power relations in the examination of adaptation policy and the omission of the social science literature on the co-production of science

The epistemological status of adaptation

and policy (2013: 49). The adaptation concept itself does not contain a sophisticated formulation of the “social system”. Therefore, the idea of what society or a social group is, and how social structures work together remain vague. Bassett and Fogelmann argue along these lines that the “system” is typically taken for granted, and so are its politics (2013: 49). The adaptation concept is normative in its essence and therefore adaptation processes should be understood as a value-driven subjective rather than as a “neutral” positivistic way of handling climate change. In this sense, adaptation to climate change is seen in this thesis as a scientific idea which has become a political one as a result of the importance that political actors now attach to environmental issues such as climate change. The function of the adaptation concept is therefore to serve as an indicator of processes in a political network that is influenced by the feed-in of a new political idea. Given that globalization has led to increased governance structures beyond the nation-state, there are stronger interdependences between political issues on a global scale. When a political agenda becomes significant in different places and when actors in such places refer to each other and to this agenda, one can speak of a “mobile policy”. Adaptation to climate change can be understood in this thesis as a mobile policy because today there are many places where adaptation has become politically meaningful, whether on the global scale (United Nations, UNFCCC, GCF, APAN), on the national scale (individual national adaptation strategies), or from regional and local perspectives (RCCAS, Klimzug). Before explaining the theoretical stances regarding adaptation to climate change as a mobile policy, and its role in the South Korean case study as revealed through an ANT approach, the following section will show that the epistemological features of the adaptation concept have important consequences for the political debate.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea


consequences of the epistemological stance for the political debate

In a quotation mentioned in the previous section, Bassett and Fogelmann say that defining features of climate change politics are the studious avoidance of politics and power relations and the omission of the social science literature on the co-production of science and policy (2013: 49). The authors criticize that the IPCC investigations were focused on the responses to climate change rather than on the causalities of vulnerability (Ribot 2011), such as, for example, the negotiation of access to natural resources. It seems that climate change politics, and in particular politics relating to adaptation, has specific features that are influenced by the essence of the adaptation concept and by its position in the scientific discourse. It has already been explained that this concept has an almost paradigmatic status in scientific research on climate change and that criticism of the concept is rare (Nelson 2011, Ayers & Dodman 2010, Bassett & Fogelmann 2013). This has consequences for the political debate on climate change adaptation. According to Swyngedouw, the major consequences of such unanimity in the scientific course is that the political positions in the negotiation of environmental issues are less antagonistic. As an example, Swyngedouw chose the concept of sustainability but his argument is equally valid for the adaptation concept. He alleges that generally politics has shifted to a post- or depoliticized configuration (Swyngedouw 2010), in particular within the current climate change regime which means that scientific concepts, such as adaptation to climate change are hardly discussed anymore. The politics of climate change is influenced by the emergence of consensual policy-making and institutional changes that create non-state or quasi-state forms and actors. The so-called “post-political” condition is characterized by “the growth of a managerial approach to government (...) deprived of its proper political dimension” (Žižek 2002: 303). Negotiations of antagonistic positions are seen as the “proper” political dimension and as the essence of the political (Mouffe 2007: 17). The entry of neoliberalism into environmental governance (privatizations and market-based practices like the above-mentioned CDM and REDD, Oels 2010) leads to depoliticization and to the increasing importance of scientific expertise (Mansfield 2004, Castree 2008a/b) for justifying political actions. Swyngedouw’s most important argument is that “matters of fact

The epistemological status of adaptation

turn undisputedly into matters of concern called science-politics shortcircuiting” (Swyngedouw 2010: 220). Thus, scientific expertise becomes the foundation and guarantee for “good” adaptation project and programs and since the IPCC reports propagated the adaptation concept, political actors do not reexamine the adaptation concept in its core and its legitimacy is not questioned. In contrast to Swyngedouw’s interpretation of the climate change regime, Wainwright and Mann argue for a re-politicization of climate change governance in “Climate Leviathan” (2013) when it comes to the realization of climate change projects that are developed from concepts like adaptation. Their central argument is that there are four potential socio-political forms of environmental governance for the future, and that there will be conflicts between these regimes in the process of implementation of policies given their different political and social systems. These four types are: Climate Leviathan, Climate Behemoth, Climate Mao, and Climate X, drawing on the categories “capitalist/non-capitalist” and “planetary sovereignty/anti-planetary sovereignty” (Wainwright & Mann 2013: 5). Both Swyngedouw, Wainright, and Mann agree on the present situation of climate change governance. The governance of climate change is characterized by the dominant rationale of capitalism, which “itself is not a question on the table, but rather treated as the solution to climate change” (Wainwright & Mann 2012: 6, Pelling et al. 2012). However, in the future there might be conflicts between climate change regimes based on different economic and political systems. In this sense, one could speak of a potential re-politicization in climate change governance, because national interests will be pursued in environmental questions which will be negotiated more strongly on a global scale with respect to the allocation of funds and the distribution of rights and responsibilities. The current post-political situation of adaptation as a paradigm in climate change politics on the global and national scale is why a political ecology approach for this study would not be sufficient. Political ecology focuses on environment-related conflicts, but in this case study adaptation to climate change is not a bone of contention. When it comes to the implementation of adaptation strategies, there is potential for conflict between central and regional actors. Their interests and strategies are considered using the ANT approach.


Theoretical Stances

A mobile political agenda: adaptation to climate change Policy ideas and techniques have become mobile in entirely new ways. P eck 2011: 774

Policy mobilities develop in, are conditioned by, travel through, connect, and shape various spatial scales, networks, policy communities, and institutional contexts. McCann 2013: 8

This chapter will give a more detailed view of how the adaptation concept is understood in this study. As already mentioned, adaptation as a political agenda has become “mobile” with regard to where and also how it is negotiated and implemented. The feature “mobility” has gained attention in human geography and other social sciences recently. This “mobility turn” has led to a stronger consideration of the mobility of humans, objects, and ideas. Also referred to as the “new mobilities paradigm” (Hannam et al. 2006, Sheller & Urry 2006), it is an approach that stresses the aspect of mobility as the central fact of modern or postmodern life. Cresswell says it is of scientific interest how people, objects, and things move in interconnected ways, and how they may enable or hinder each other (Cresswell 2010a: 552). The exchange and movement of information, money, and goods, but also ideas and diseases across long distances may not be new; however, new is the speed and unresistant-ness of these traveling processes (Rosa 2005: 339). Compared to mobility studies of people (like migration


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

studies) and objects (Cook 2004), the mobility of political ideas and techniques has been neglected in research in human geography. This study is a contribution to the debate on the mobility of policies, specifically policies relating to adaptation to climate change. The relatively young debate on policy mobility initiated by Cresswell, Peck, Theodore, and McCann has grown out of the debate relating to policy transfer, predominantly in political science. Both traditions draw on the fact that the world can no longer be viewed through lenses that implicitly or explicitly locate the politics of public policy within national boundaries (Cochane & Ward 2012: 5) and do not consider interrelations between states and global actors. The most important difference between the two scientific debates is the analytical object. Whereas the policy transfer literature emphasizes successful transfer of best practice cases, the mobilities approach stresses the translation or mutation of policy ideas, norms, and techniques. In both debates, the definition of policy stays relatively open. Here Peck summarizes the most important differences between policy transfer and policy mobilities: Table 1: Comparison of policy transfer and policy mobilities Policy transfer

Policy mobilities


Disciplinary: political science

Transdisciplinary: anthropology, geography, heterodox political science, comparative political economy, science studies, sociology, urban planning

Epistemological foundations



Privileged analytical object

“Successful” transfer: conspicuous jurisdictional border-crossing

Policies in motion/interconnection: continuous transformation and mutation

Social action

Instrumental: bounded rationality

Strategic: embedded calculation

Mobile political agenda


Frustrated replication of best (or better) practices

Contradictory reproduction of connected but unevenly developing policy regimes


Sequential diffusion

Relational connection

Mode of explanation

Reification of essentialized design features

Contextually sensitive analysis of emergent capacities

Politics of know- Abstracts from poli- Problematizes politics of ledge tics of knowledge and knowledge and practice practice Source: Peck 2011: 775

Dolowitz and Marsh identify seven “objects of transfer”: policy goals, structure and content, policy instruments or administrative techniques, institutions, ideology, ideas, attitudes and concepts, and negative lessons (1996: 350). For them, policy transfer occurs when a combination of these transfer objects at one time and/or place is used in the development of policies, administrative arrangements and institutions at other times and/or places (ibid. 344). The authors of the policy mobilities approach do not specify the content of policies, but their case studies (urban policies, OECD policy, Winter Olympics Vancouver) show how diverse mobile policies can be. In this study, the “policy” or rather political agenda examined is climate change adaptation, which is a scientific concept and a political agenda at the same time. This means that there is a strong interrelation between scientific and political actors, which becomes crucial in the justification of the adaptation agenda. It would be misleading to speak of adaptation as a mobile “policy” because it is rather the general concept of adaptation that is on the move. Adaptation policies are understood as the translations of this general concept in a local context through political actors. Therefore, it is more exact to speak of the mobility of a political agenda. The political agenda consists of models of implementation in divers sectors, application blueprints, and techniques. It is important to note that the mobility of adaptation cannot be understood apart from the scientific and political discourse on climate change which provides justification for political action in this field.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The reason for favoring the mobility approach in contrast to policy transfer is that the former emphasizes the circulation of policy information and the translation of this information by the actors involved. Theodore and Peck argue that the mentioning of common threats by political actors (climate change, pandemics, terrorism, economic crises) has not led to a one-way process of global convergence, or to an international monoculture (2011: 23) of political decision-making. What has changed, however, is the level of “interpenetration between national policy networks and transnational circuits of policy development” (2011: 23). Hence, it would be insufficient to regard climate change adaptation as a one-directional policy transfer from one epistemic community to single countries which “tend to be normatively positive and methodologically positivist” (Peck & Theodore 2012: 23). The connections and disconnections between actors that emerge through the implementation of a mobile policy are crucial: “Policy mobilities develop in, are conditioned by, travel through, connect, and shape various spatial scales, networks, policy communities, and institutional contexts” (McCann 2013: 8).

The notion of scale is granted a significant position in this debate, given that mobile policies are moved across scales or even create new spatial formations. Adaptation to climate change as a political agenda has become relevant for many political actors in the past few years, so one may argue that this approach has increased in “mobility”. The scientific problematization of climate change is crucial for the political upswing of adaptation. The acknowledgement by governmental actors that climate change is a threat to humankind was an important condition for pioneering the mitigation and later the adaptation concept. The position of climate change adaptation as a political issue was strengthened by the publication of the IPCC reports, the international COPs, and the contribution of NGOs. An indicator of this is the increasing media attention and participation of state delegates at the UNFCCC summits. In 2009, 130 delegation members were listed for South Korea at the UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen. Another important aspect of the adaptation agenda is the occurrence of what has been called policy boosterism, an explicit promotion or “talking up” of best practice examples (McCann 2013) of policies. McCann has shown empirical evidence of policy boosterism with the example of urban

Mobile political agenda

policy during the Winter Olympics in Vancouver (Temenos & McCann 2012). The propagation of a policy, a best practice example from a local context, plays a significant facilitative role in its mobilization. Schipper supports McCann’s position for the case of climate change adaptation by arguing “that developed countries may be playing a role in bolstering the importance of adaptation to developing countries” (Schipper 2006: 90). In this study, the empirical data match McCann’s “policy boosterism” approach. The term “adaptation boosterism” was chosen to show the propagation of the adaptation agenda from South Korean political actors to the global scale.

Translations of mobile agendas

It has already been noted that policy mobility goes beyond the assumption of simple transfer of a policy, and focuses rather on the translation of a political agenda into a specific policy. For Cresswell, mobility in general is an entanglement of movement, representation, and practice (2010b: 19). It is especially the way the mobile political agenda is represented and the political practice of the actors involved that determine how the political agenda is translated. Translation is an important term for ANT scholars as well. Although Callon (1986: 200f.) does not mention the term “mobility” in his ANT study of fishermen in St. Brieuc, he describes how a particular scientific idea has moved from Japan to France, and how this idea was translated by the fishermen and by scientists in a new environment. After French scientists learned of a new way to cultivate scallops in Japan, they started to apply this new knowledge in France by helping fishermen in a marine village to improve local fishery practices. In the process of application, the new knowledge could only be implemented with local appropriations and configurations with regard to the particular interests of the actors involved. Important to note is that the movement of an idea can happen on a large scale, as in this case, but that the practices of translation are necessarily local. Translations in the ANT tradition are defined as follows: an object, which may be an idea, a practice, or even a device (Mol & Law 1994, De Laet 2000) is appropriated and reconfigured by local actors. For Adolfsson



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

(in Czarniawska & Sevón 2005: 94), translation always involves a novel local interpretation of the object. The process of translation is also called “domestication” by Callon (1986: 203), which is similar to Adolfsson’s interpretation. Whereas ANT scholars stress the emergence of a network through translations by the actors involved (Law & Hassard 1999, Latour 2005, Callon 1991), Peck argues slightly differently when he says that “the policy objects that pass through these networks are not only transformed on the journey, they are also transforming of both the network and its nodes” (Peck 2011: 789). Although the terminology of the policy mobilities literature is ANT oriented (“network, human/non-human actor/actants”), the case studies are based on theories other than ANT. However, in terms of methods applied, there are similarities. At this point, it should be clear that the adaptation agenda can be regarded as a mobile policy, with particular consideration of the general concept rather than specific political steps in the case of developed countries. The notion of translation leaves several open questions for this study: Does the adaptation idea lead to a new special adaptation network or does it simply modify the existing political environment network? Given that the adaptation idea was translated in South Korea by governmental actors, what interpretations will be made, by whom, and how are they used? Before these questions are answered in the chapter on ANT and the concept of translation, the spaces that a mobile policy may create will be discussed.

Spaces of mobile agendas

As suggested above, policy mobilities are considered to be more than the crossing of a distance or neutral displacement of a political agenda. The understanding of mobile policies is a profoundly geographical issue because of its requirement to consider multiple “overlapping spaces of policymaking” (Crochane & Ward 2012: 5). A global political agenda is not to be understood as a general blueprint that can be realized in all local contexts in the one and the same fashion. Instead, political ideas are actively produced but also actively circulated and fed back through global networks of scientists, consultants, global NGOs, and political actors (McCann 2011). The circulation of political agendas leads to the emergence of new

Mobile political agenda

spaces in which these agendas become an object of negotiation and in which they are implemented. In this study, there are two dimensions within which the adaptation agenda circulates among political actors: first, there is the interface between global actors (UN, Greenpeace, ASEAN) and national actors in Seoul (foremost KACCC, and actors in the ministries). KACCC actors drew information from these global actors, and applied it in their local context, a process which is understood as translation. However, this was not a one-way process because the same KACCC actors also tried to spread information that they have gained on a global scale. Regional actors also consumed information from global actors but their feed-back was less productive. Thus, there was a circulation of information relating to the adaptation agenda between national and regional actors in South Korea, and, interestingly through the negotiation of adaptation policy, new spaces were created in which political power was exercised according to the interests of the governmental actors. In the context of moving political ideas, Peck speaks of a “new spatiality of policy” (Peck 2011: 794). The diffusion of ideas may lead to the creation of new political networks which are relational constructions seen as “fields of power” (Peck & Theodore 2010: 169). In these fields of power, the notion of scales becomes crucial, assuming that they are also a result of relational processes and a reflection of power (Swyngedouw & Heynen 2003, Swyngedouw 2004). In this study, the relational aspects of the mobility of the adaptation concept are considered through the term “network”.

N e t works

of mobile political agendas

Since the concept of networks has been widely used in geography, and since there are many definitions of it, a definition of network as used in this book needs to be given at this point. Boltanski and Chiapello explain why the term network has worked so well in the social sciences:



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

“This state of the world (“connexionist”), which at the outset could be viewed purely negatively (the dissolution of the old conventions), or assimilated in postmodernist fashion to a chaos unamenable to any general interpretation, has finally found an instrument of representation in the language of networks” (2007: 345).

For Hetherington and Law, a network is a complex arrangement of social relations with no clear center or dependence upon hierarchical relations of difference (scales) and is “seemingly fluid, complex, and unfinished in character” (2000: 127). Other scholars have explained the concept of a network with the picture of a “cat’s cradle with its complex, interwoven, and sometimes chaotic knots” (Haraway 1994), or the rhizome proposed by Deleuze and Guattari (1977), who understood the world as a meshwork of multiple and branching roots deriving from multiple sources (Latour 1999, Mol & Law 1994). With regard to the mobile policy approach, a network is understood in this study as both the facilitator and the result of the mobility of the adaptation concept. The central point of interest is the networking of governmental actors who deal with climate change adaptation in South Korea. Bulkeley argues that overlapping and competing environmental authorities belonging to different scales will lead to a “hollowing out” of the state, as the functions of the state are redistributed upwards, to international and transnational organizations and institutions, downwards to cities and regions, and outwards, to non-state actors (Bulkeley 2005: 883, Pierre & Peters 2000). In the case of climate change adaptation in South Korea, this is not quite true. Although global environmental networks have emerged, the authority of such networks remain tied to local actors in the nationstates (Betsill & Bulkeley 2004). There is – as the notion of mobile policies implies – a translation network circulating the adaptation idea, and a local appropriation and implementation of the adaptation concept in South Korea. During circulation and appropriation, the concept was translated according to the interests of the actors involved. In this chapter, it has been seen that we may understand the adaptation concept as a mobile political agenda in the current global environment discourse. The concept of climate change adaptation is not immutable because it changes its meanings and contexts in which actors make the idea meaningful to themselves. The movement of the adaptation idea will

Actor-Network Theory

draw on existing environmental policy networks but also will transform existing networks. The question now is how this process of networking can be examined, and how translations within the network can be detected. In the following chapter, it will be explained why the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) is a suitable theoretical approach for this question.

A ctor -N e t work Theory :

a suitable approach for a

mobile political agenda

In the 1980s, ANT was developed by researchers in the field of Sociology of Science and Technology, in particular by Bruno Latour (1988, 1997, 2005), Michel Callon (1986, 1991), and John Law (1986, 1994). This theoretical approach focused at first on studies in science and technology (STS) and tried to understand science as a social network, and scientific results as the outcome of scientific practices (Latour 1990). The term “network” is crucial for ANT, which is defined as a series of elements with well defined relations between them (Mol & Law 1994: 649). These elements may be human or non-human actors (such as technical devices, computers). The focus of ANT studies is on these relations between various actors. For Latour and other ANT scholars, the idea that actors are products of networks, but themselves also shape the network, was essential (Law 1999: 5). By this means, they tried to solve the conflict between agency and structure which was central to the debate regarding research on social networks. On the one hand, there were structuralist network concepts (Luhman 1987, 1991) which emphasized the structural formation of networks more than the quality of the interactions shaping the network. On the other hand, other approaches put the focus on the agency of single network elements (Weyer 2000) without a larger consideration of external or structural influences (such as social values, politics, society, “the social context”). One may argue that the conceptualization of networks lies between the opposing poles of structure and agency. The term “ActorNetwork Theory” – an oxymoron in which the tension of agency and structure is semiotically displayed – tries not try to overcome this divide but



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

rather to offer a methodological approach that integrates these two poles. ANT scholars drew on conceptual inputs such as the relational ideas of the philosopher of science Michel Serres, materialization of post-structuralist approaches (Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze), the practice-centered ethnomethodology of the sociologist Harold Garfinkel, and the narrative semiotics of Algirdas Greimas. By now, a number of authors have extended the corpus of ANT literature showing that ANT has led to a vital debate in the social sciences, for instance Belliger and Krieger 2006, a collection of essential ANT publications, Blok and Jensen 2011, and Voss and Peuker 2006, a contribution that seeks to understand the impact of ANT in the field of environmental sociology. As Latour explained, ANT is a negative theory (Latour 2005), by which he meant that the theory will not explain any pre-assembled outcome, but rather how social phenomena can be examined. This is why this theoretical approach “is well suited for exploratory research in areas that have not been investigated much already” (Dankert 2011). The set of methods applied (participant observation, interviews, and document analysis) using the guidelines of ANT help to approach complex questions that have not been addressed by already existing social theories. Especially when the researcher is not familiar with the case at the beginning, as the case was in this study, it is important to avoid explanatory theories and other presumptions at this stage in order not to limit the perspective on the actors involved. The guidelines of ANT research, however, ensure the maintenance of an open vantage point during the research process. There are four principles that serve as guidelines for an ANT study, presented in Latour’s “Reassembling the Social” (2005). These key ideas not only influenced the way in which adaptation is studied in this book, they also inspired the initial interest in it. The first one is that social groups are constantly performed in the sense of ongoing transformation. The power of actors that shapes political institutions, authoritative groups, the media, the scientific community, or any other group is not understood as an original category but as an emergent effect of networks and how actors stand in relation to each other. Moreover, the stability of social groups is seen as exceptional and change as usual. In this study, the starting actor was KACCC which was founded one year before the research for this study began. Its foundation is in itself a sign of changes in the

Actor-Network Theory

adaptation network in South Korea. After its foundation, KACCC sought to establish its position. The first key point of ANT helped me to see these changes in the institutional arrangements in the South Korean case as an aspect of the implementation of adaptation, which needed to be examined. Second, agency within the network is ceaselessly debated in the sense that agency does not belong to the innate character of actors, but is an emergent result of entities that enter into relation to each other (Braun 2009: 28). Therefore, KACCC’s practices of implementing climate change adaptation have to be understood in the light of its attitude towards the practices of other actors in the network, and not in isolation – given that adaptation was aimed at a certain target group (such as farmers, low income groups) and/or at other governmental actors who were involved in the implementation of adaptation strategies. Third, objects or so-called non-human actors play an important role. Latour’s critique with regard to the separation of nature and society leads to the idea that objects are, firstly, products of human actors, and, secondly, that they themselves have the ability to influence the network. There are a number of non-human actors that play a crucial role in the translation of the adaptation agenda, such as climate change impact maps, technical devices which record climatic changes, computer programs such as ArcGIS, adaptation evaluation systems, the CCAIS, etc. The arguments and practices of political actors can be much better communicated and justified with the help of such non-human actors. Fourth, matters of concern are more important to the researcher than matters of fact. For the researcher, what she thinks about climate change adaptation is less important than how political actors in South Korea have problematized climate change and justified adaptation. This understanding points towards a primarily constructivist notion of nature and climate change. Examining a political network that was expected to be unfolded in different places (in this study Seoul, Chuncheon, and Gangwon Province) implies the notion of space, and in particular scales. Scales are understood by many geographers (Herod 2003, Marston 2000, Swyngedouw 1997) as the result of a “discursive practice” and “also the tangible outcome of the practices of everyday life as they articulate with and transform macro-level social structures” (Marston 2004: 173). Therefore, geographical research is not primarily interested in one particular scale, but in the “socio-eco-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

logical process through which particular social and environmental scales become constituted and subsequently reconstituted” (Swyngedouw & Heynen 2003: 912). In terms of ANT, scale is understood as the actor’s own achievement (Latour 2005: 185) or more generally as an outcome of the network. Both concepts of scale are therefore very similar. Blok writes: “Whatever space and scale we encounter will have to be understood as a sociomaterial product or achievement” (2010: 989).

Therefore, the network as a product of actors’ connections is “itself an alternative topological system” in which the “elements retain their spatial integrity by virtue of their position in a set of links or relations” (Law 1999: 6). Thus, labels like “local” or “global” are cautiously used because each local context has a global reference and global phenomena are in some ways local, too. In order to do justice to this point, political actors are labeled in this book as “national” or “regional”, but they are understood as “nationally” or “regionally operating” which emphasizes the range of their political influence. We have already given one reason why ANT is a suitable approach for answering the research questions raised in the introduction, and how the aforementioned concept of the mobile policy merges with ANT. The core concern is to examine the political adaptation process in the agricultural sector in South Korea on the national, regional, and local scale. The study aims to understand how political activities were interrelated and which scalar formations were visible in the network. It will be shown in the empirical chapters that the implementation of this political agenda has led to a specific network of political actors, which, however, has not yet resulted in the implementation of concrete adaptation strategies for farmers. The purpose of the thesis is not only to say something about the structure of this network, which would be to name the institutions that are part of the network, but also to understand the practices that constitute this particular network, especially in the agricultural sector, and relations between the governmental actors involved. Since the processes of negotiation of the adaptation agenda in the agricultural sector in South Korea was realized during the research, ANT provided a suitable tool for observing and to examining these processes.

Actor-Network Theory

Another argument for applying ANT in this study is that adaptation to climate change provides an especially fruitful and interesting object of analysis for this theoretical approach. The reason is that the issues of climate change, mitigation, and adaptation touch both natural and social aspects in their essence. Latour argues in his book “We Have Never Been Modern” (1993) that the clear disconnectedness of nature and society as a symbol for modernity was never achieved and that the more scientists tried to keep these domains apart, the more so-called hybrids – of nature and society – emerged. Similarly, Beck et al. argue: “What is natural is now so thoroughly entangled with what is social that there can be nothing taken for granted about it anymore” (1994: vii).

In the case of climate change, the rise of temperature in the atmosphere, or the impacts on ecosystems like rice paddies in Gangwon Province and ecosystem services (for example the amount of rice yield) display a dimension that could be considered as natural, while human reactions to it in terms of politics and discourses relate to the social dimension – but neither one or the other side can be thought of without its counterpart. The idea of climate change adaptation is a good example of a hybrid that cannot be understood as either a purely natural or a purely social matter. Even if one tries to separate nature or natural phenomena from the social setting, there is not “a previously defined and objectively perceivable environment” (Becker & Jahn 2006: 143). Human knowledge of nature is completely enmeshed with perceptions and social practices (Beck et al. 1996: 14), as well as with technological information (GIS, cartography, remote sensing). In this study of adaptation in agriculture, it became apparent, as in the case presented by Nimmo (2011), that “any attempt to separate the social factors from the non-social or natural factors would have been an irrelevant and misleading exercise, since the processes themselves exhibited no such separation” (2011: 112). Against this backdrop, ANT offers a way to deal with the question how to include both factors by neglecting the gap between nature and society. For example, the production of new seed varieties is now understood as an outcome of specific practices by heterogeneous actors and their networks (Kim SJ 2006), instead of as a “good” way to improve ecosystem services for farmers in changing climate con-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

ditions. Such understanding of the processes in the adaptation network allows us to maintain a critical view of adaptation. After this brief introduction, it will be clear that ANT provides a theoretical vantage point but no restrictions or clues about what to observe. In order to merge the ANT approach and the mobile policies approach, a second theoretical step is needed: the translation process approach developed by Callon (1986, 1991). The authors of the mobilities approach used the term “mutation” of a policy (Peck 2011) to explain the changes of a policy, rather than “translation” as used in the ANT terminology. Whereas the term “translation” focuses attention on the act of translation by the actors involved, the term “mutation” highlights the transformation of the policy. The translation process incorporates features of both ANT and the mobility of ideas, by focusing on the enrollment, involvement, and mobilization of actors.

Tr ansl ating

a mobile political agenda

In the aforementioned study of scallops in St. Brieuc Bay, Callon used the concept of a translation process to examine the actor-network between fishermen, researchers, and scallops. This concept is a further refinement of ANT and relevant to this study because the steps of translation provide the structure for the empirical chapters. Translation refers to the appropriation of a concept beyond linguistic translation in a new context, similar to the mobilities approach. Callon differentiated four steps of translation, named problematization, enrollment, interessement, and mobilization. These steps do not follow one after another but may overlap and account for each other. The empirical findings in this study have shown that there is a fifth step, which will be called “propagation”.

Problematization The first step, called problematization, refers to situations in which a particular issue gains relevance because a phenomenon is pointed out as pro-

Actor-Network Theory

blematic by one or several actors. The term problematization implies not only an undesired circumstance but the specification and negotiation of it. Defining the problem means asking which actors are involved in the problem and which actors are affected by it. In this case study, the defined problem is climate change and adaptation is seen as one solution to this problem. In fact, climate change serves as a justification for political actors to become active and to assemble the adaptation network. The dimension of justifications in the adaptation-actor-network is introduced in the following section. Certainly, already existing legal or institutional dependencies might influence the actor-network but it is primarily the designated problem (climate change impacts) around which actors assemble. In this empirical case study, the defined problem is climate change and its interrelated regional and local impacts in South Korea. First, there is a spatial dimension of this issue because, as some actors argued, climate change will affect the South Korea regions differently, and, second, there are different scales on which the problematization takes place. National actors had a different perspective on climate change than regional ones. They differed in their understanding of the problems created by climate change. It will be shown that the problematization of climate change is an ongoing process in the adaptation-actor-network facilitated by climate models, projections, and maps. Continuous problematization also serves the purpose of sustaining the network by providing justification for its existence.

Interessement and Enrollment The second and third steps of the translation process describe the involvement and commitment of actors, in particular with regard to adaptation in agriculture. For Callon, they are two different steps, but the empirical research in this study has shown that they are hardly separable. This is why interessement and enrollment are merged into one category in this book. The process of interessement summarizes all initiatives by a central actor, in this study KACCC, which “impose and stabilize the identity” (Callon 1986: 207f.) of other actors. Here, the researcher takes the perspective of a particular actor, KACCC, and asks how the employees imagine and design the adaptation network, and how they decide which



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

role other governmental actors should take. In South Korea, there are ten sectors in which adaptation to climate change is developed. Given that it would be hardly possible to examine the entire network and given the affiliation of this project with TERRECO, a fraction of it, the agricultural sector, will be examined. At the beginning of the study, it was necessary to choose an anchor actor, a starting point, which is KACCC because it organizes adaptation to climate change at the national scale. Choosing to focus on KACCC is legitimate because this institute was the central governmental think-tank for adaptation policy in South Korea. As the next step, one might ask whether the adaptation-actor-network has developed as KACCC actors have planned it, i.e. the focus shifts to the enrollment of other actors. Interessement and enrollment create an actor-network, with some actors referring their tasks to the national level, while others consider themselves as making a local impact. The study will show that the definition and distribution of roles in the adaptation-actor-network are a result of negotiations during which the identity of the actors is negotiated. In this context, the meaning and the relations between the political center (Seoul) and the rural periphery (in this case Gangwon) will be discussed. The empirical chapters on interessement and enrollment will give insights into the scalar formation of the adaptation-actor-network and whether enrollment follows interessement.

Mobilization The step of mobilization is understood by Callon as the point at which the researcher looks at the target actors who are in the focus of the actor-network. Target actors in the agricultural sector could be farmers, employees in the farming sector, or small industries associated with farming practices and services. The aim of political actors in the adaptation-network is to “mobilize” target actors, in terms of farming decisions and practices, through information services, laws, regulation, soft incentives, subsidies, etc. The question for the researcher is whether and how the target actors respond to the mobilizing efforts of the political actors. In Callon’s study, the target actors were the scallops, whereas in this study they are farmers in Inje County, a group of actors that is supposed to be affected by climate change.

Actor-Network Theory

KACCC is the self-appointed spokesperson in terms of climate change adaptation. It speaks for the affected actors because of its expertise, which gives it a self-ascribed authority and judgement on the basis of its claim to possess specialized truths on adaptation to climate change (Miller & Rose 1990: 29). Its expertise includes the ability to make an assessment of the problems that other actors will face (for example, how climate change will affect crop production) and what adaptation strategies they should apply. The interesting question is what these other actors, in this case study the farmers, will do in the light of the problems associated with climate change, problems which they have not only been told about but which they can personally perceive. It will be argued there there one can speak of “distant mobilization”, a term which emphasizes that this mobilization is characterized by a neglect of implementing practices by the political actors on the national scale, and by a gap between central political and rural concerns.

Propagation The four steps of Callon’s translation process focus on the local appropriation of a new concept. What he did not include in his study was the further circulation of the translated agenda beyond the examined actor-network. In this study, the empirical data provided evidence of this further step, which will be called “propagation”. The adaptation agenda is translated in the South Korean adaptation-actor-network, but this specific translation is again actively circulated or propagated on the global scale. The notion of spreading and supporting the adaptation agenda to other countries as part of a “green policy package” adds another spatial dimension to the adaptation-actor network examined in the first four steps. Following McCann (2013), this extension of scale can be called “policy boosterism”. The Theory of Justification adds another valuable quality to the analysis of actor-networks and is therefore used to complete the theoretical frame of this study. In the next two sections, the synergy between ANT and Justification Theory is explained in the first four steps.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

A ctor -N e t work Theory

and J ustification


The value of combining Justification Theory with ANT is the detailed reflection this allows on the reasoning of actors. The second principle of ANT states that human actors are able to explain the rationale of their arguments and actions (Latour 2005: 57). Human actors may not always be conscious of why they behave the way they do, but in moments of reflection they may be able to justifiy their arguments and actions. This is where Justification Theory becomes relevant. Boltanski and Thévenot (2006), the founders of this theory, developed a framework in which justifications can be categorized and related to each other. For this study, the examination of ways in which adaptation to climate change is justified adds a valuable hermeneutic aspect to the analysis of the adaptation-actor-network. By working with this theory, this study distances itself from Latour’s claim of “recording not filtering out, describing not disciplining” of the empirical data (Latour 2005: 55). The application of Justification Theory could be understood as such a “disciplining” of data, yet this perspective helps to analyze and interpret the arguments of actors and the observations of the researcher. The reason why Thévenot and Boltanski chose justifications as the focus of their research is that arguments helped them to understand how actors coordinate their beliefs and behavior in relation to others, like in an actor-network, and how actors evaluate the other actors’ arguments and behavior. Thévenot argues that “when sociologists disregard actor’s evaluations as illusory or pure a posteriori reconstructions, they miss a significant part of what evaluation is oriented to: that is, co-ordination” (Thévenot 2002: 3). A second argument for the synergetic relation between the two theoretical approaches is the possibility of including objects, seen as potential non-human actors in ANT, in both theories. In the Justification Theory, they may play an important role by providing stronger evidence for an argument. Therefore, Thévenot et al. say that they also consider the material or organizational arrangements which support the justifications (2000: 236). Two years later, Thévenot goes even further: “In the régime of justification, human and non-human beings are qualified together as conventional moral beings” (Thévenot 2002: 13).

Actor-Network Theory

What he means is that objects lose their neutral character when they are used as a justification. A third argument for applying Justification Theory in a political actor-network is that ANT is not capable of accounting “for conflicts between competing criteria of evaluation” in political negotiations (Thévenot et al. 2000: 7). Latour argues (2004) that political reason is different from scientific reason because decisions have to be taken in a much shorter time and under conditions of uncertainty. Arguments for a political opinion or action are referred to general criteria, called “justification régimes”. The Theory of Justification takes these general criteria as the background of its analysis.

The Theory of J ustification : E x amination actors ’ r ationalities

of the

Boltanski and Thévenot have developed a theoretical approach for the examination of justifications that provides a referential system to categorize them. A justification is defined as “an attempt to move beyond stating a particular or personal viewpoint toward proving that the statement is generalizable and relevant for a common good, showing why or how this general claim is legitimate” (Thévenot et al. 2000: 236). In terms of this thesis, the scientific construction of climate change has served as the justification for many political statements and strategies. For example, Hulme argues that climate change has served as the justification for commodification of the atmosphere and carbon dioxide (2010: xxvii). The two main concepts of adaptation and mitigation also take their justification from the evidence of climate change. Political actors involved in debating the resolution of a public problem like climate change are charged with the need to justify their statements and actions (Thévenot et al. 2000: 236). Drawing on ANT, actors have their own theories (or rationales) about what they do; as Krauss says, “they are not mere informants who have to be taught about the context” (2009: 150). This is the reason why explanations, which are oftentimes justifications, are a valuable insight into the understanding of the rationalities of actors. Hulme claims that “we



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

need to understand the ways in which the idea of climate is often called upon to act as a justification and conveyor of ideology” (Hulme 2009: 17), which is a perspective that stresses the importance of paying attention to the rationales of actors. This idea is applied in this study to the concept of adaptation to climate change in South Korea. The basic outline of the theory is the assignment of arguments to one régime (or “world”) which is characterized by a particular prevailing principle (or “worth”). As soon as an argument refers to a higher principle, it can be assigned to a régime. In their writings, Thévenot and Boltanski distinguish the following régimes derived from philosophical classics: the world of inspiration, the civic world, the market world, the industrial world (Thévenot et al. 2000, Thévenot 2002, Boltanski & Thévenot 2006), and finally the green world (Lafaye & Thévenot 1993). In the market world, as an example, an argument will belong to this régime if the actor justifies his/her statement or action by referring to the costs or the price. In this world, the prevailing logic is based on the financial or economic benefit. An argument that relates to this worth belongs to this régime. According to Thévenot and Boltanski, each régime has its own “grammar of worth”. The desired outcome of each régime differs. Table 2: The worlds of justification and their grammars of worth Régime

Grammar of worth

Inspiration (Augustine)

Grace, singularity, creativity, emotion

Market (A. Smith)

Price, costs, market performance

Industrial (St. Simon)

Technical efficiency, technical competence, long-term plans

Opinion (Hobbes)

Renown, fame, reputation

Civic (Rousseau)

Collective welfare, solidarity

Domestic (Bousset)

Esteem, reputation, trustworthiness

Ecological/Green (/)

Environmental friendliness, sustainability

Source: Thévenot et al. 2000: 241

A justification is not a neutral reference but is always normative (Fogelin & Sinnott-Armstrong 2000: 60) because the goal of the actor is to provide a reason that makes it possible to persuade other actors. In this sense, the “orders of worth are moral artifacts” (Thévenot 2002: 14), a mirror of

Actor-Network Theory

social and cultural conditions, or to speak in terms of ANT, the outcome of an actor-network. For example, the consideration of ecological issues developed in relation to the rise in awareness of the ecological crisis in the 1970s and eventually to the concerns associated with climate change. However, arguments of the green régime refer not only to environmental friendliness but also to future generations: “Strictly green arguments, (…) posit a unique type of dependency which assumes more than simply a spatial interaction of humanity with the natural world, but also a temporal extension of humanity by way of an implicit or explicit reference to future generations” (Thévenot et al. 2000: 257).

In such a way, some régimes are more similar regarding their worth than others. The second important insight drawn from Justification Theory, other than that arguments can be categorized because they refer to a higher principle, is that conflicts can be explained through the reference of arguments to their régime with their particular worth. In this case, arguments are in conflict when the worths of different régimes contradict each other and the logic of one régime stands against the other’s rationale. This does not always have to be the case, as for instance for the principles of “costs” and “technical efficiency”. However, “solidarity” and “costs” will likely contrast with each other. In the empirical chapter on the problematization of climate change, it will be shown that political actors in South Korea offer several justifications that belong to different régimes but that in the realization of projects the market and the industrial régime dominate. Boltanski and Thévenot argue that arguments belonging to different régimes will be in conflict with each other, and this case study demonstrates that in the political discourse different régimes may co-exist, while in the stage of realization a choice needs to be made in favor of for one rationale. Looking at the realization of projects and the justifications for them unveils “dominant” and “recessive” rationales. The authors stress that the list of régimes is not a fixed and finalized one, and that in empirical cases, one might come across other justification régimes. This is certainly true, because the works from which the régime classification is derived were all written by Western philosophers. Prior to this study no one had applied this theory to a non-Western context. Engagement with the empirical data has shown that there are similar justifica-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

tion patterns and that the theory can be applied in this case. The openness of the classification makes it possible to add or to neglect a justification régime.

M e thodological approach J ustification Theory




The basic advice Latour gives for an empirical ANT study is to “follow the actor” (2005: 68), but this leaves a few questions open. In this section, the methodological approach will be described, based on the theoretical strands that are explained above: mobile political agenda, ANT and the Theory of Justification. Several empirical ANT studies have been published recently, some with reference to South Korea (Kim SJ 2006, Oppenheim 2008, Masys 2010, Maintz 2008). Despite the differences between these case studies, they use more or less the same methods: interviews, participant observation, document analysis, and in some cases, mind mapping. The question now is where to apply these methods and how to choose the actors which the researcher wants “to follow”. When it comes to the examination of networks, according to Krauss, a “multi-sited ethnography” is needed in order to be able to understand the perspective of different actors by following climate scientists and entering the network where climate change is constructed (Krauss 2009: 150). For Krauss, ANT is a radical form of the multi-sited approach which involves close observation of the actors in the network. When it comes to the examination of mobile policies, Cresswell argues in his state-ofthe-art article regarding mobility research that ethnographic approaches have “moved from a deep engagement with a single site, to analysis of several sites at once, to ethnography that moves along with, or besides, the object of research” (2012: 647). Here, the focus is on multiple sites where a (scientific, political) agenda is negotiated and further circulated. The choice of the TERRECO research site (Gangwon Province) and the sector (agriculture) determined the sites of this study, which were national actors associated with agriculture and adaptation to climate change in Seoul (KACCC, MIFAFF, RDA, ME), regional actors in Gangwon’s capital

Actor-Network Theory

city (CRIK), and local actors in Inje City (ATC) and Inje County (farmers). In order to connect these sites, the research started with national actors’ activities, assuming that the implementation of adaptation policy would follow from national to regional actors, and then to the local level. In the empirical chapters, the actors are kept incognito. However, actors who can be easily identified are mentioned with their full name. Thus, the researcher has tried to move with the adaptation agenda, in keeping with Cresswell’s definition of a mobility study (2012: 651). Traveling with the idea is accomplished by moving along with the political actors who work with, negotiate, and justify the idea of adaptation in the agricultural sector. It is an approach that requires ethnographic methods that allow a jump between scales, meaning that a certain flexibility is needed not to stick entirely to one scale during a research period but to connect to actors from other scales as well (casual visits, survey). Most important for the study were connections between actors from different scales that were arranged by the actors themselves, for example meetings between KACCC employees and CRIK researchers from Chuncheon. This is an example of such a connection that will be brought up again in the empirical chapters. On May 25th, 2010, an interview with Dr J., the leader of the policy division of KACCC, was conducted in Bulgwang, Northwest of Seoul, in which he explained the adaptation plans for Gangwon Province. He mentioned that he would participate later in a meeting in Gwacheon, two hours from Bulgwang in the South of Seoul, the seat of the Ministry of Environment, and he asked me whether I would like to join him. In this meeting Dr C., stationed in Chuncheon presented the regional adaptation plans for Gangwon Province. Through the participation of the aforementioned persons, experts, and ministerial employees, the connection between different actors was made. The previously mentioned assumption of a straight top-down implementation was certainly theoretical but it nevertheless helped to establish a research design and later on to understand the empirical data. When it comes to the analysis of a political network, a starting point is needed, an actor who will serve as an anchor in the study. This decision was made in the light of the research questions and requires explanation. Such a decision is not explicitly mentioned in other ANT studies, although this step was implicitly taken; for example, Callon chose the marine village of St. Brieuc and the fishermen as his central anchor point. For this study, KACCC was chosen to be the anchor actor. In the fall of 2009,



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

a first interview took place with the then KACCC director, Dr Yong-Ha Park, and two other employees. This center was founded in the summer of 2009 and one could feel how everyone had rolled up their sleeves. A year later, I was able to become an intern who “wanted to know more about how adaptation was managed in South Korea”. Despite my affiliation to the international cooperation division, one out of three divisions, I received a desk in the office of the policy group, a happenstance. The office was a large room in which ten employees had their desks. Typical spacepartitioning walls granted some privacy, but basically it was an open plan office. From the beginning of August until November 2010, I spent four or five days a week there, and even after this time I was occasionally able to meet KACCC employees. During these weeks, I was able to observe the daily work of KACCC actors, talk to them about their projects, let them explain to me what they were doing, see who would visit the offices and sometimes accompany one of them to a meeting or conference. During this time, most of the information was not recorded on tape but written down in a research file on the computer at my desk. My work schedule was very flexible so that I could take a day off to meet another actor for an interview (in Seoul, Suwon, or Chuncheon) or to go to the villages in Inje County to meet farmers. The other interviews were carried out with employees of other major environmental institutions, like the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, or the Rural Development Administration. The second theoretical aspect which has a major methodological implication is that the framing of the network – scaling, spacing, contextualizing – is accomplished by the actors themselves. “Actors know what they do and we have to learn from them not only what they do, but how and why they do it” (Law 1999: 19).

ANT scholars demand an attitude of “agnosticism” from the researcher (Callon 1986: 200). Such a perspective requires detailed observation of the actors, and communication exchange with them as to why and how he/ she behaves in a particular way. For the researcher, this meant replacing her own vocabulary regarding adaptation with the actor’s vocabulary. The circumstance that I was a young female PhD student from Germany was helpful in this regard. Most actors were indulgent when I asked “why”

Actor-Network Theory

questions because they wanted to explain the “Korean way” of adaptation and were pleased by my interest. Interesting outcomes of the analysis of the adaptation-network are the spatial configurations that explain hierarchy and power relations in the network and spatial projections through the network. Spatial configurations refer to expressions and arrangements within the network that reveal something about the character of the network itself, for example seating arrangements on a micro-scale. Spatial projections are understood here as an outcome of the network, as adaptation to climate change is negotiated among political actors. An example of a projection would be the calculation of climate change impacts and associated “risk areas”. In an one case, such a spatial projection went beyond the national territory and included North Korea. Especially in the case of agriculture, there are various spatial projections in terms of the distribution of plants and wildlife, and its shifts. The problematization of climate change therefore includes a spatial projection which assembles the assessments of political actors with regard to climate impacts. By analyzing official documents, it was possible to trace some of these spatial projections which were expected to be the base for adaptation strategies. Since this study focuses on agriculture in Gangwon Province, and since farmers are expected to be part of the adaptation-actor-network, they were included in this study with the help of a standardized survey and semi-structured interviews in 2010. The survey and interviews took place in Inje County, Gangwon Province. The reason for considering farmers in Inje County was the affiliation of this study to the TERRECO project which is centered in Haean in the neighboring Yanggu County. Around 32,000 people live in Inje county and one third of these work in agriculture. The choice of villages for the standardized survey and interviews in each district (Myeon/Eup) was made in cooperation with an ATC officer. He initiated contact with the respective village leaders who provided me with contacts among the farmers. The following villages were chosen: Buk, Deoksan, Hanam, Garisan, Gwidun, Seoheung, Cheondo, Yongdae, Hangye and Sangnam. Although interviews were planned in Nam-Myeon, this was not possible due to Foot and Mouth Disease, which spread in December 2010. The access roads to Gangwon Province were controlled and foreigners were not allowed to pass. Therefore, the planned 13 interviews could not be conducted. A later attempt to interview the farmers



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

in Nam-Myeon in spring 2011 was not carried out in order not to bias the results obtained. Those farmers who were interested in giving more information than was asked for in the standardized survey participated in a semi-structured interview which took around thirty minutes. The survey data was analyzed using the program SPSS, and the semi-structured interviews were transcribed. Figure 4: Survey and interviews in Inje

Law’s statement, quoted above, that “actors know what they do and we have to learn from them not only what they do, but how and why they do it” (1999: 19) points to the reasons or justifications of actors in the network. The data needed to examine justification patterns was derived from interviews with national actors and from official documents. The reason for limiting application of this theory to these actors is that the discussion with them was the most animated, while among farmers the political agenda of adaptation was not an issue even though they had to coped with climatic changes. Boltanski and Thévenot argue that they concentrate their empirical research on moments in which something is questioned or criticized (2007: 34), because then the differences between justification régimes become evident. However, moments of confrontation in which the adaptation concept was criticized were very rare. This can be explained by the post-political state of environmental policy which is characterized by an absence of negotiation with opposing parties (Swyngedouw 2010). The acceptance of the adaptation agenda in the South Korean adaptation-network shows that it is a paradigm there, too. The theory has proved to be

Actor-Network Theory

valuable as an aid to understanding the configuration of the adaptation network and showed that the ambitions of some actors remain in the discursive realm. What Boltanski and Thévenot claim is that the researcher is obliged, in his description, to adhere as closely as possible to the procedure the actors themselves use in establishing proof in a given situation, and that this approach entails paying careful attention to the diverse forms of justification (2006: 12). Those situations occurred for example during interviews with political actors, participant observation or specifically during public encounters, such as the Green Growth Conference in 2009 and 2010, and the 2nd International Symposium on Climate Change in October 2010. During these meetings, various actors presented political statements/strategies and of course justified them. Moreover, it was of interest how these meetings were composed, which actors participated and which did not, and how the discussions proceeded. In general, the researcher’s participation and observation during these meetings, especially at the 2nd Symposium, was fruitful for this ANT study. But what is the role of these events and how can they be interpreted with regard to ANT? Hetherington and Law cite Thrift, who suggests that events cannot be constituted neatly within established networks of relations. Events are effective rather than representational and “we might add that they combine intransitivity, mobility, blankness, novelty, and the unexpected together” (2000: 131). Certainly, these events are not representative of the actor-network. Instead, they are a part of this network and therefore a valuable moment in which the participating actors grapple with each other. In the case of the International Symposium, the author of this study was involved in the preparations for it, and this revealed in which ways KACCC actors wanted to represent themselves to the participants and which message they wanted to disseminate. The requirement to adhere as closely as possible to the actors leaves open the question of how the researcher may influence the adaptationactor-network. The first challenge is that the researcher should let the actor know that she observes the adaptation-network. This was done in several moments when the researcher explained her concern to understand the adaptation network. The researcher’s position in KACCC as an “intern” with simple tasks (like proof-reading, compiling information) meant that she became an actor herself within this actor-network, most of the time with a limited impact. However one day, Dr S., a team leader at KACCC, asked the researcher if she knew a European expert that they



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

could invite for the symposium. On August 19th, 2010, she wrote in her research diary: “I have become a part of this network, where decisions are made, where the network is performed. It is nearly impossible to distance oneself from this part-taking but you have to be there to observe what is crucial for the assemblage of climate change adaptation. (...) I know that I have to record all conscious influences diligently, every word, every gesture ... well, that is unrealistic. I will try to document everything, list mails, documents and follow up the influences that I am responsible for”. McCann and Ward (2012), as well as Roy (2012), also stress the importance of reflexivity and the need to consider critical moments in the research period in the analysis of the empirical data. However, seen from a different perspective, the reactions to the researcher’s influence were sometimes a useful insight into the characteristics of the actor-network, for example when the researcher was invited by KACCC members to give a short presentation on adaptation strategies in Europe. The actors’ reactions, questions and their behavior during the talk were insightful aspects of the actors’ attitude towards European adaptation policies. It is important to admit, as Cresswell writes, that sometimes “the movement of ideas gets stuck, is made still” (2012: 651), or even to consider that there is an unexpected development in the implementation process of a political agenda. In the empirical chapters, it will be shown that at some point the movement of the adaptation agenda in the agricultural sector has seemingly finished. In some ways, the implementation of adaptation in agriculture in South Korea has “failed”. What follows then is not to question the theoretical concept but to accept this result and ask what are the reasons for this observation. To sum up, we may quote a geography dictionary which comments as follows on the methodology of ANT: “In practice, such aspirations (of ANT) are profoundly difficult to operationalize, meaning that ANT studies rarely start from a completely blank slate and instead tend to repeatedly draw attention to a number of features of the world that are usually downplayed or ignored in classic social science accounts” (Gregory et al. 2009: 6).

This is the advantage of the ANT approach. The theoretical implications of ANT necessarily lead to the employment of ethnographic methods. The research process of following a political agenda (or “policy”) is described

Actor-Network Theory

as explanatory prototyping by Peck and Theodore, thus underlining the researcher’s openness and modesty in respect of the research outcome, knowing it is not a particular truth that will be uncovered (Peck & Theodore 2012).


Empirical Study

South Korean environmental policy

After the Korean war (1950-1953), the Southern and Northern parts of the Korean peninsula were in a devastated economic and environmental condition. Large parts of the forest were cut down or burned in the war. In North and South Korea, two opposing political and economic systems evolved (Yang SC 1994), with South Korea continuing to be under the strong influence of its US American allies. Cumings describes the situation of Korea at that time as “truncated into half a country, with almost no natural resources, a thoroughly uprooted and aggrieved population, no domestic capital to speak of, a minuscule domestic market, and a work force long claimed to be lazy louts” (Cumings 1995: 300). The economic growth of the following years based on industrialization and modernization had its heyday from 1961 to 1979 during the government of Park Chung-Hee, who propagated the slogan “steel = national power”. The economic transition from an agrarian to an industry-based economy was followed by democratization processes. Kim Hong Nack speaks of a transition from an “authoritarian subject political culture to a democratic participant political culture” (Kim HN 1998: 116), which began with the implementation of institutional structures based on the US American model after the Korean war and the separation of the Korean states: “the initial American legacy was the wholesale transposition of U.S. institutions onto Korean society” (Kang DC 2001: 79). Kang elaborates that the democratic structure was at first inconsistent with the preferences of Korean civil society. The economic and political transformations were related to social and demographic changes, for instance the rural-urban migration that “offered an unlimited workforce for urban factories” (Kihl & Bark DS 2001: 184). This signified the consecutive shift from an agrarian to an industrial society. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, the economy grew rapidly. The


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

GNP index increased more than 10% a year. The GNP per capita rose from USD 1,500 (1980) to USD 6,500 (1990). During the decades of economic development, the environment was hardly considered in spatial planning and public policy. In the following two decades, characterized by the financial crisis in the 1990s, the positive economic trend in Asia slowed down. In 2011, the IMF forecasted that the South Korean GNP would be USD 23,749 and they expected an increase up to USD 28,117 in 2013 (IMF, World Economic Outlook Database 2008; for a detailed economic review see Cha DS et al. 1997). In addition to the challenges of keeping and strengthening market competitiveness in a globalized world (Kern & Köllner 2005, Kern 2005) and balancing regional economic differences (Dege 1982, Wessel 1991), the military threats from North Korea on the one hand and the prospect of unification with North Korea on the other hand are crucial components of South Korea’s policy. Rapid industrialization and the promotion of imports and exports, as well as urbanization (now at almost 80%) have caused significant pressure on the environment and natural resources (Choi BD 1996). In his book “Poisoned Prosperity” (1996), Eder describes how economic development and modernization were accomplished at the cost of the environment, leading for example to air pollution (emissions of carbon monoxide, ammonia, nitrogen oxide, and sulfur oxide), acid rain and the accumulation of industrial waste. Especially in the metropolitan areas like Seoul urbanization followed by suburbanization to Gyeonggi Province led to massive environmental degradation (Lee YH 1999: 162). Today, Eder states, every element of the Korean society has come to accept the necessity of addressing Korea’s environmental problems (1996: x). Other publications, notably those on climate change, stress the rise of environmental awareness in the public discourse (Lee HK 2004, Cho MR 2004). The rising awareness of a particular environmental issue, climate change, has been shown in the study “Media Analysis of News Articles on the Climate Change By Major Korean Mass Media Outlets” by Yun Sun-Jin and Ku Do-Wan (2009) from Seoul National University. This study outlines the vividness of the public discourse on climate change which emerged in 2007 and in which the government is the most active speaker. Against the background of the economic development and social changes, one may better understand the implementation of environmental policy in South Korea.

South Korean environmental policy

For Lee (1999), the accentuation of environmental policy in South Korea could be understood as a renaissance of traditional values of nature. The traditional concept of geomancy, called (Pungsu) in Korea, describes a “comprehensive system of conceptualizing the physical environment which regulates human ecology by influencing man to select structures (i.e. graves, houses, and cities)” (Yoon HK 1976) based on the assumption that “the earth and humans are interrelated and intertwined” (Choi CJ 2003: 77). The focus of geomancy is to keep the “harmony of the landscape” (Yoon 1982: 78) by respecting the contours of the natural environment such as rivers, trees, mountain ranges or valleys. The most fundamental feature is “gi” (translates as spirit, force, or power) which is the principal law of nature governing the existence and movement of all humans and things in the universe. Choi writes that “gi is the collective term for all the natural phenomena between heaven and earth. Furthermore, meteorological phenomena, such as thunder, lightening, wind, clouds, hail, snow, rain, fog, and rainbows were considered as results from changes in gi” (2003: 80). The goal of this approach is to maintain order in the geomantic harmony of nature which is achieved when the natural or cultural landscape is modified respectfully (Yoon 2006: 3f.). The concept of geomancy reflects the deep association between culture and environment in East Asia and has been one of the most important elements controlling the relationship of the Koreans with their environment (Yoon 2006: 8). According to Yoon, much of the Korean landscape is a product of the implementation of geomantic ideas (2006: 8). In its principles, the concept of geomancy in East Asia is comparable to environmental (geo-)determinism in the West (Yoon 2006: 11). However, Lee argues that today the perception of and behavior towards nature are no longer determined by such traditional conceptions, but were enmeshed with and shaped by modern Western views in the period after the Korean war. Nevertheless, the traditional values still play a role, although a hardly quantifiable one, and there are many voices that advocate a return to traditional values because they offer a solution to the environmental crisis today (Lee HL 1999: 97). Kim says that the rationale of economic growth is like a “monster” that has caused the environmental crisis. This monster is characterized by a Western rationality and has negative effects on the philosophy of life, lifestyle, and the entire social-environment arrangement (Kim CH cited in Lee YH 1999: 98). Choi supports this position by saying that the manic craze for



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

ownership and exploitative use of land that plagues contemporary Korea is in fact the undesirable byproduct of overzealously adopting the tenets of Western geography (Choi 2003: 82). The development of environmental policy in South Korea since the 1990s may be understood as a renaissance of traditional values relating to managing the harmony between the natural and the social systems, according to Lee, although South Korea has adopted Western models and there is still an anthropocentric tenor in the environmental laws and regulations (Lee YH 1999: 169). She argues that “the current philosophy of environmental protection may be according to the zeitgeist but not according to Korean tradition” (Lee YH 1999: 124). However, she sees the proclamation of principles of environmental protection (1978) and the national declaration of environmental protection (1992) by the Korean government as a renaissance of traditional values towards nature that are explicitly visible in environmental policy.


emergence of environmental policy

According to Article 35, paragraph 1, of the Korean constitution, “all citizens shall have the right to a healthy and pleasant environment. The State and all citizens shall endeavor to protect the environment”. Although the Ministry of Environment was not founded until 1990, environmental regulations and laws were established by the Korean government from the 1960s onward. In the 1960s, seven acts were passed that can be understood as the dawn of environmental policy: the Waste Cleaning Act and the Water Supply, Waterworks Installation Act, and a new Forest Law (all 1961), the Act relating to toxic and hazardous substances (1963), the Sewerage Act (1966), and the Act relating to the Protection of Birds, Mammals and Hunting (1967). The Forest Law was a national reforestation program through which millions of trees were planted to reforest large areas where the Japanese occupation, the Korean war and the starving population in the 1950s had led to massive deforestation. In the 1970s and the 1980s only nine acts were passed, focusing on environmental conservation (1977), on the establishment of natural parks (1980), on the pre-

South Korean environmental policy

vention of pollution (1983) and on waste treatment (1979, 1986). However, the rising ecological concerns led to the inclusion of environment protection in the national constitution in 1980. Between 1990 and 2009, 46 environmental regulations were released, particularly in the early 1990s due to the foundation of the Ministry of Environment. According to Eder (1996: 16), although general aims for reducing and controlling pollution were defined, the Ministry did not create any administrative or enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance and therefore they received little or no attention from government officials or the public. Before the Ministry of Environment became the leading environmental agency in South Korea, the national government founded the Pollution Control Division as an independent agency within the Office of Sanitation of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs (MoHSA) in 1973. However, the administrative structures, as Eder explains, were “at best feeble and usually nonexistent” (1996: 17). In 1980, the Environmental Administration was opened within the MoSHA (with regional offices after six years) to oversee environmental laws and their enforcement. At this time, the national government consistently refused to impose environmental controls on either existing industries or new developments, in the name of economic prosperity. The development in the 1990s was characterized by the foundation of the Ministry of Environment (1990) and increasing attention paid to environmental questions, as expressed through the five-year master plan for environmental improvement (19921996) and higher budgets for environment-related issues. The budget of the Ministry of Environment and its number of employees have increased in the past few years, which is an indicator of the augmented significance of environmental politics. The total budget of the Ministry of Environment has increased from 403,585 million Won (equal to 298 million Euro) in 2003 to 2,816,602 million Won in 2011 (1828 million Euro)1 (Ministry of Strategy and Finance 2012). Despite this budget increase, the share of the ministry’s budget in the national budget was 1.34% in 2011 compared to 0.34% in 2003. The categories of the budget have changed over time, making it difficult to asses the expenses in detail. However, the biggest part of this budget was 1 | Exchange rate differs according to year, 2003: 1350 Won – 1 Euro, 2011: 1540 Won – 1 Euro.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

reserved for water supply, sewage service, and the maintenance of water quality (almost 60% of the budget in 2006, Ecorea 2006: 70). Another indicator of the augmented significance of environmental policy in South Korean politics is the rising number of employees in the Ministry of Environment and its subsidiary organizations. In 2005, 1,439 people were employed in one of the environmental agencies, followed by 1,596 in 2006 and 1,759 in 2007 (Ecorea 2005-2007). In the years since 1990, environmental politicians have set different priorities. In the aforementioned environmental master plan (1992-1996), water quality and the instability of the water supply system in remote rural parts of the country were named as the most crucial environmental problems. The goal was to solve these insufficiencies through dam construction projects, better water purification and the installation of 27,000 km of water supply infrastructure (Green Korea 2001: 21). Another major goal was the reduction of waste and the promotion of recycling. Better sewage treatment was considered as important, as well as the improvement of air quality, especially in the urban areas, through the reduction of GHG. In order to monitor the development of ecosystems and the degree of pollution in South Korea, the Ministry of Environment started to conduct nationwide surveys every ten years in compliance with the Natural Environment Conservation Act. The first of these surveys was conducted between 1986 and 1990 (by the Ministry of Environment’s predecessor), and in 2002 the second survey was finished. The processes of enacting environmental regulations as well as the activities of the Ministry of Environment from 1990 show that the environment and its protection gained particular attention in the last two decades, but that environmental regulations and controls were still seen as a threat to continued economic growth. In the 1990s, the international community agreed on the importance of sustainable development, as the leading principle brought up at the summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992). South Korea then joined the executive board of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development which reviewed the progress of implementation of Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. In 2005, the Commission of the South Korean president in environmental questions was called “Presidential Committee for Sustainable Development”. The prevailing concept of South Korean environmental policy from the early 1990s until seven or eight years ago was “sustainable development”

South Korean environmental policy

that stressed the bearing capacity of ecosystems under the pressure of pollution and population growth. With the publication of the third IPCC report in 2001, attention in the global environmental discourse shifted from sustainable development to climate change and its impacts; this was also the case in South Korea, which becomes evident in terms of political strategy programs. There was a period in South Korea, approximately between 1999 and 2005, in which climate change was a known issue but only of slight relevance. For example, the South Korean government released a comprehensive plan to cope with climate change in 1999, and in 2001 a Special Committee for Climate Change was founded. However, according to Yun et al. (2011: 6), up to 2005 South Korea took a “defensive position” in climate change policy. The adaptation plans published between 1999 and 2007 had little impact. The subsequently published programs that relate to climate change and adaptation are: Table 3: Relevant adaptation strategy paper Title of program

published in

published by

Comprehensive Plan for Combating Climate Change 기후변화대응 종합 기본계획

September 2008

Prime Minister’s Office

Comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation Plan 국가 기후변화 적응 종합계획

December 2008

Ministry of Environment and 12 other governmental actors

National Plan for the Implementation of Adaptation to Climate Change 국가 기후변화 적응 종합계획 세부시행계획

April 2009

Ministry of Environment

Green Growth 5-year Plan 녹색성장 5개년 계획

July 2009

Presidential Committee on Green Growth

National Plan for Climate Change Adaptation Measures 국가 기후변화 적응 대책


Ministry of Environment and 12 other governmental actors

Source: Project proposal “Climate change adaptation inventory and assessment” by Dr J., Y.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Lee Jae-Seung argues that in South Korea the political situation regarding climate change is unique (Lee JS 2010: 357). Although South Korea is ranked 15th in the list of national GDPs (World Bank 2011 2), the country did not belong to the Annex I countries of the Kyoto Protocol. This meant that South Korea was not subjected to the regulations of the protocol to reduce GHG emissions because of its late industrialization (compared to North America and Europe). However, by now South Korea has become the 10th biggest emitter of GHGs worldwide, with particularly accelerating rates in the 1990s. The total emissions of GHG have risen from 459.4 million tons CO2 in 1998 to 620.0 million tons CO2 in 2007 (Environmental Statistical Yearbook 2010: 113). The energy sector is responsible for by far the largest part of the emissions, with around 85% of the total energy consumption. In contrast, agriculture only contributes between 2-3% of the total GHG emissions. The goal of the current environmental policy, on which the recent Green Growth strategy focuses in particular, is to decouple economic growth and GHG emissions. Before describing this approach, the last ten years of environmental policy will be considered on the basis of the Ministry of Environment’s publications “Green Korea” and “Ecorea”, focusing particularly on the relationship between the economy and the environment.

E nvironmental R e vie ws : G reen K ore a (2001-2011)


E core a

Environmental reviews are published annually by the Ministry of Environment to present core areas of environmental policy, policy developments, budgets, and statistics (mostly selected examples from the annual Environmental Statistical Yearbooks). The publications “Green Korea” (20012007) and “Ecorea” (2008-2011) were analyzed in the frame of this thesis by considering key words, political goals mentioned, and the relationship between the economy and the environment, in order to understand the development of the current Green Growth strategy. The term Ecorea is a 2 |, January 24th, 2013.

South Korean environmental policy

“compound of the prefix ECO, which suggests an ecologically sound and comfortable environment, and the name of our nation, KOREA” (Ecorea 2007: 7). This term may be understood as the expression of a close connection between the environment and the Korean state. It is commonly said that the legitimacy of environmental policy is based on the conviction, that after the achievements of democratization and economic growth, “the country would be now ready to face environmental problems” that have been caused by rapid industrialization and modernization. The narrative is that the political leadership could not give enough attention to environmental concerns during the decades of growth because there were more important issues, and that now the environment is an important policy branch. Since economic stability and prosperity are still important concerns, it is of interest how they affect environmental and economic policy. The question of how to bridge economic and ecological demands is brought up at several points in the publications. Often, the relation between the two is described as a “symbiotic system” (Ecorea 2003: 4), which results in “win-win situations for the environment and economy” (Ecorea 2004: 3). In 2005, the Minister of Environment, Lee Jae-Yong, argued that it would be difficult to predict what the Ministry of Environment would be doing in ten or 20 years, but certainly all human activities would put environmental considerations first and environmentally friendly activities would be regarded as the most reasonable and economic ones in the near future (Ecorea 2005: 3). As the following section on Green Growth will show, this prediction was not realized. It seems that the significance of environmental policy is defined against the backdrop of economic development, as in this quotation: “If the existing environmental regulation does not befit rapidly developing technologies and new socioeconomic conditions, the country will reform it so as to satisfy its original purpose of environmental protection and try to advance the regulatory framework to minimize pressure on businesses as well as Korean citizens” (Ecorea 2009: 31).

Given the strong notion of South Korea as a developmental state (Park CH 1979, Pirie 2008), the role of the state in terms of economic growth is seen as very important. A new frame in which ecological and econo-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

mic interests are being renegotiated in South Korean politics is climate change, because the causes of it, industrial GHG emissions, correlate strongly with economic development. The statistics for GHG emissions shown below indicate that in terms of mitigation, South Korea has not succeeded in reducing GHGs, although measures to mitigate GHGs (like CDMs) have been implemented. Figure 5: Emissions of GHG from 1999-2008

Source: Environmental Statistical Yearbook 2011: 113

Interestingly, the most recent statistical figures which can be found in 2013 date from 2008, which could mean that the recent development of emissions does not fit the political announcements and figures have therefore not been published. This assumption is supported by Yun et al. who explain that from “1999 through 2007, the ROK’s policy responses related to climate changes were modest in scope, calling for emissions reduction from business as usual levels that were not particularly aggressive, and were protective of what was seen as the required increases in energy use to drive a growing economy” (2011: 3). In this period of time, mitigation of GHGs was seen as the major core of climate change strategies, as argued in Ecorea 2004: “the nation falls under significant impact from greenhouse gases and the government is required to develop long-term national strategies to correspond to the impact of climate change” (Ecorea 2004: 17).

The concept of adaptation was not very significant for environmental policy-makers at this time.

South Korean environmental policy

A few years later, adaptation to climate change gained significance compared to mitigation, and Lee Maanee, the Minister of Environment at that time, announced that his ministry would play a leading role in establishing a nationwide system to address climate change by setting national objectives for the reduction of greenhouse gases, as well as introducing measures to adapt to climate change (Ecorea 2007: 6). The first outcome of this development was the “Comprehensive plan for combating climate change” initiated by the Presidential Climate Change Committee and published in 2008. The development of adaptation policies started in 2008, around the same time as the national Green Growth program. From the beginning, the South Korean adaptation policy related to Green Growth. Thus, “adaptation to climate change” policies were meant to support the Green Growth strategy (Ecorea 2008: 113). The first steps towards adaptation policies focused on three core domains, which were the establishment of a climate change risk assessment system, the promotion of climate change adaptation programs in different sectors, and the start of domestic and foreign cooperations. According to the first adaptation plan, each participating ministry was encouraged to establish and implement detailed enforcement plans and an annual performance program, including a self-assessment report. These results and performance plans had to be submitted to the Ministry of Environment in the following year (Ecorea 2008: 117). The environmental reviews show that in recent years there has been tension between environment or “green” interests and economic growth, and that climate change poses a new challenge for political decisionmakers. Rapid industrialization and economic growth were central to the country’s recovery, during which ecological concerns were generally neglected: “the passionate pursuit of economic security and an end to the nation’s impoverishment simply pushed all other concerns aside” (Eder 1996: 21).

In the 1990s and at the beginning of the 21st century, environmental concerns became significant but only under the premise of stable economic growth. However, climate change may reshuffle the cards and this may lead to a re-negotiation of environment and economic goals. The Green Growth strategy was the political strategy for economic growth and environmental protection under the South Korean president Lee Myung-Bak.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The G reen G row th S tr ategy It is a shift in thinking that no longer pits green against growth. Lee Myung-Bak in “Our Planet” 2010: 8

Green Growth was a political strategy launched under President Lee Myung-Bak who sought to reconcile ecological or economic needs in one extended political program. The formulation of Green Growth may be understood in relation to the global discourse on climate change and “green economy”, as well as to the experiences of the financial crisis in 1997. The Asian financial crisis in 1997/1998 hit the South Korean economy severely and caused high inflation, massive unemployment, and decreases in growth rates. The causes of the financial crisis have been discussed widely (Kwack SY 1998, Lee K & Lee CH 2008, Park BG 2001). Green Growth as a political agenda announced in 2008 on the 60th anniversary of the South Korean state was defined as “an action-oriented paradigm which promotes a mutually supportive relationship between growth and the environment by holistically embracing the framework of sustainable growth”3. The history of environmental policy in South Korea has shown that before Green Growth, environmental concerns were mostly subordinated to economic goals. Green Growth was considered by the South Korean government to place both the environment and the economy on the same level and to bestow upon them the same importance. Green Growth as a “new paradigm” (a term that is used by South Korean politicians) has developed under global conditions, such as the acknowledgement of climate change as a threat, and the decreasing availability of fossil-based energy. Governments in developed and developing countries have lanced socalled green economic programs which in sum can be understood as a turn in economic politics, called green economy (Victor & Jackson 2012). Nick Nuttal, UNEP Acting Director of Communications, argued during a Green Economy Side Event at the COP 17 that the basic thrust behind green economy thinking is that the economic models of the 20th century 3 |, June 6th, 2012.

South Korean environmental policy

are unlikely to assist in achieving the multiple goals the international community has set ranging from combating climate change to supplying freshwater, sufficient food and energy independence4. The Korean strategy of green economy called Green Growth can be understood as a national implementation program within this global trend that emphasizes the synergetic connection between economic growth and environmental protection as Lee Myung-Bak writes in an UNEP report: “Without doubt the low-carbon growth strategy is emerging as the viable solution for today’s global environmental challenge” (UNEP 2009: 7).

The South Korean Green Growth strategy can be described in terms of its three main pillars: first, a “virtuous cycle of the environment and the economy” leading to the invention of green technologies and promotion of green industries, second, the “enhancement of international contribution” by participating in the international cooperation of countries embracing the path of the green economy, and third, the “improvement of the quality of life” by the promotion of green consumption and the expansion of new ecological spaces, for example the four major rivers in the 4-river restoration program (Green Growth Korea brochure 2009: 9). This program is focused on the re-naturalization of the four major rivers in South Korea (Han, Nakdong, Geum, and Yeonsan) in order to improve water security for the large metropolitan centers, to provide flood control, to create recreational areas for citizens in urban agglomerations, and to stabilize the river and river bank ecosystems. The projects include the construction of 20 new dams along the main streams, the extension of 87 existing dams, dredging of 570 million m3 of sediments, and reinforcement of 377 km of riverbanks. Based on these three pillars, there are ten policy directions, including the goal of strengthening the capacity to adapt to climate change (3). At the Green Growth Conference 2009, Kim Cae-One, Chairman of the NRCS, said that Korea’s Green Growth strategy not only covers energy policy, environment protection, and climate change adaptation, but also goes beyond these to provide a new paradigm for the future development of

4 | ID=8970, September 3rd, 2012.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

the nation. He made clear that the government pursues different interests under the Green Growth strategy, as shown in the following list: The ten policy directions of Green Growth were • effective mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions • reduction of the use of fossil fuels and the enhancement of energy independence; • strengthening the capacity to adapt to climate change; • development of green technologies; • the “greening” of existing industries and promotion of green industries; • advancement of industrial structure; • engineering a structural basis for the green economy; • greening the land, water and building the green transportation infrastructure; • bringing green revolution into our daily lives; and • becoming a role-model for the international community as a green growth leader Source: National Strategy and the Five-Year Plan 2009-2013; 2009: 5 Cho Won-Dong, Vice Minister in the Prime Minister’s office gave an explanation of the third goal of “strengthening the capacity to adapt to climate change” during the conference Green Korea 2009: “Korea will expand its climate change monitoring system based on a threedimensional (e.g. air-, ship- and satellite-based) observation system in order to further improve its climate change forecasting capacity and make available adequate information for more effective adaptation to climate change. To prepare for the food crisis – a consequence of climate change – Korea will develop “climatefriendly” food production technology, increase the share of environment-friendly agricultural products to 10% by 2013, and strengthen international cooperation for a secure food supply. The four major river restoration project is expected to solve water shortages as well as seasonal flooding problems by securing an adequate supply of fresh water and strengthening flood controls. To prepare against droughts, a water conservation scheme will also be enhanced. Disaster response systems will be reformed taking into account the effects of climate change and early disaster forecasting and warning systems will be ins-

South Korean environmental policy

talled. Water resources management will be carried out within the wider context of the preservation of the ecological environment, and also in a way that can help the nation to better cope with water-related natural disasters. To increase and protect forest resources, urban forests and green areas will be built and forest fire prevention activity will be enhanced. Also, the protection of forest ecosystems will be strengthened to cope with the adverse effects of climate change.” Source: Speech “Korea’s Road to Green Growth”, conference proceedings, pp. PS-4-3 & PS-4-4

This policy direction plays an important part in the Green Growth strategy because it has the biggest budget compared to the other nine areas, namely 36.3 billion Won for 2009-2013 (National Strategy of Green Growth 2009: 68-69). The legal foundation of the implementation of Green Growth, including climate change adaptation, is the “Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth” issued in 2010 by the General Assembly. Based on this law, the South Korean president makes the final decision on environmental policies. In the “Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth”, two articles mention the term climate change adaptation: Article 40 “Basic Plan for Coping with Climate Change” and Article 48 “Assessment of Impacts of Climate Change and Implementation of Measures for Adaptation”. In Article 40, it says that the “government shall establish and implement a basic plan every five years for coping with climate change within a planning period of 20 years” (paragraph 1) and that this plan should include “matters concerning measures for adaptation, such as monitoring, forecasts, and evaluation of impacts of climate change, evaluation of weakness therefrom, and prevention of disasters” (paragraph 8). Three of the five paragraphs of Article 48 pick out the impact assessment of climate change as a central theme. Paragraphs 4 and 5 are formulated as follows: “(4) The Government shall exert itself preferentially for preventive management to reduce damage that may be caused by climate change and shall establish and implement countermeasures for mitigating impacts of climate change or for coping 5 with health and natural disasters, as prescribed by Presidential Decree. (5) The Government may provide citizens and business entities, who conduct 5 | In the Korean text, the word 적응 is used here. 적응 stands for “adaptation”.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

activities in response to measures for adaptation, with technical and financial support as may be necessary”.

The task of formulating adaptation measures was transfered to several ministries and most notably to the Ministry of Environment which is responsible for the adaptation measure plans. In general, the implementation of Green Growth involved governmental actors, as well as nongovernmental actors, as citizens but also NGOs. In the legal base of Green Growth, the “Framework on Low Carbon, Green Growth” issued in 2009, the roles of these actors are defined. In Article 3 of this law, the responsibilities of the government are listed. Other articles address the role of local governments, businesses, and Korean citizens. The responsibilities of the central government are wide and explicitly formulated, whereas the role of the local governments and the citizens mainly consist in participation and proper implementation of the national plans. This shows the tradition of the central state-led development in South Korea that also becomes visible in the Green Growth strategy. Pirie argues that the project of state-led capitalist development, under which Green Growth can be subsumed, took a particularly intense form in Korea because “of the manner in which the modern Korean state was initially created, its severe initial underdevelopment and the security situation” (2008: 7). A year after the announcement of Green Growth, on July 6, 2009 a 5-year implementation plan was presented with a total funding of USD 83.6 billion representing 2% of the South Korean GDP. International Organizations like UNEP or OECD responded well to Green Growth in South Korea and labeled it as a blueprint for other economies. The overall frame stresses the shift from “quantitative” growth to “qualitative” growth, emphasizing the advancement to a low-carbon society. Table 4: Fiscal expenditure of Green Growth (2009-2013) in trillion KRW Category










Adaptation to climate change and energy independence





South Korean environmental policy

Creative new engines for economic growth





Improvement in quality of life and enhanced international standing





Source: Green Korea 2009 Conference proceedings, p. P-4-15

The goal of Green Growth to reduce GHG emissions relates to the international climate change debate, and the South Korean strategy is presented in this context as a model, advocating reduction of GHG for buildings, transportation systems, and industries which are particularly important for developed countries. Moreover, due to Korea’s dependency on fossilfuel imports (97% of the total energy demand), new sources of renewable energy and the extension of nuclear power plants are supposed to ensure energy independence. By the year 2020, the Korean government aims to increase its energy independence through an increase of the share of nuclear power from 26% to 32% and of renewable energy from 2.7% to 6.08% (both 20092020) of the total energy supply. The government wants to export nuclear power plants (for example it has a USD 20 billion contract to supply four nuclear reactors to UAE) and to increase the number of nuclear reactors from 23 to 40 (by 2030)6. In the Green Growth strategy, the nuclear energy sector is seen as clean energy, a part of the “green” technology. The general goal is to strengthen energy efficiency, to encourage the consumption of environment-friendly products (18% by 2020), and to create new jobs, in particular in the branches of green technology (1.56-1.81 million). The question is how Green Growth will influence the agricultural sector including farming, forest management, and fishing. The ten policy directions in the list above show that “the core of green growth is green industrial technology” (from a Green Growth promotion video). Since the agricultural sector does not play an important role in the national GDP, with a share of less than 5%, Green Growth as an economic program does not focus primarily on agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Nonetheless, there have been attempts by scientists to link agriculture and Green Growth, for instance at the workshop “Green Growth in the Agricultural 6 |, September 3rd, 2012.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Sector as a Response to Climate Change” in September 2010, hosted by the Korean Rural Economic Institute, and the Chungnam Development Institute with the two foreign experts Robert Mendelsohn (Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies) and Wilfrid Legg (OECD). What Yi In-Hee from the Chungnam Development Institute discussed as tasks were the reduction of GHG through a reduction of NH4, the substitution of chemical fertilizer, and the supply of renewable energy and bio-energy in rural areas. Given that the agricultural sector is only responsible for 2.5% of the national GHG emissions and that farming consumes much less energy than industry, the significance of the tasks is marginal. The participants of this workshop were well aware about these facts, but still one presenter argued that “agriculture could help to tackle climate change”. By now, the Green Growth strategy has been criticized by many scholars, politicians, and civil society groups in South Korea (Green Korea, Korea Anti-Canal Movement, Korea Federation for Environmental Movements). Yu-Jin Lee of the NGO Green Korea United wrote: “Large scale civil engineering projects and constructions, such as nuclear power plants, are driving the Korean environment into a catastrophe” (2009: 1).

Yun et al. (2011) state that the Green Growth policies are similar to the top-down organization that was traditional for the South Korean system. Moreover, in its core, Green Growth emphasizes economic growth and competitiveness, instead of aiming at a genuine change towards ecological policies. Thus, Green Growth favors large enterprises in the nuclear and construction industries. The expected benefits of Green Growth under two scenarios are the inducement of production, value addition, and job creation (Green Korea 2009 proceedings, 4-16) and none of these indicators relate to the environment. Another major point of criticism is the 4-river restoration program (사댸강 살리기). Park (2011) writes that the opponents of the restoration program believe that this program will cause serious deterioration in the river ecosystems and pressure local communities. Sungjo Lee from KFEM wrote that the people of South Korea will have to pay for all the costs from the “waste of tremendous amounts of budget, irreversible damage to natural rivers” environment and social discords surrounding the project” (2009: 2).

South Korean environmental policy

Surveys published in August 2009 by Kyunghang Sinmun and the Korean Society Opinion Institute show that the projects are highly controversial, stating that more than 60% of those interviewed were against the restoration project 7. This led to justification of the project by South Korean politicians; for example, Mun Jeong-ho, Vice-Minister of the Environment, at the International Symposium on Climate Change in 2010, promoting it against “national doubts”. After this general consideration of environmental policy, the focus of this thesis narrows down to the adaptation agenda which is related to Green Growth in terms of building adaptive capacity but not primarily in the agricultural sector. The following chapter will present the results of the field research which started in August 2009. At that time, political statements on adaptation to climate change were formulated but not implemented. Most of the political activities started in summer 2009 with the foundation of KACCC.

7 | &number=312&keyfield=&key=/, September 3rd, 2012.


The Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change

The Korean Adaptation Center for Climate Change (hereafter KACCC) is the central actor for climate change adaptation on the national level because it coordinates the formulation of adaptation policies and is therefore a dominant actor in the adaptation-network. Although it shares the same building with the Korean Environmental Institute (KEI) in Bulgwang in the Northeast of Seoul, KACCC is an independent institute that is subordinated to the Ministry of Environment. The number of employees increased from 10 in 2009 to 30 in the following year. The purpose of KACCC is, as Dr J. explained, to provide information concerning climate change adaptation and to guide the adaptation process in compliance with 14 ministries. The Korean government was the initiator of the foundation and attached KACCC not, as first planned to the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA) but to the ME. KACCC employees, or actors, work closely together with actors at the ME, in particular the Climate & Air Quality Policy Division, composed of three employees. The connection to this unit is close and the work at KACCC depends on the requirements of the ME division, which can be illustrated by the following three examples: first, at the end of August 2010, actors at KACCC compiled the document “Roadmap for Adaptation (2011-2020)”, which was to be sent to the ME. Because the layout of the document had not been finished in time, one actor worked until 2am to finish this document. Second, in an informal chat with two actors at KACCC, the latter explained the cooperation between their institute and the ME in detail. They said that only a small percentage of the daily work at KACCC is genuine research and often the ME actors demand information or a particular service that is usually sent via email or by telephone from the


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Climate & Air Quality Policy Division. Third, one actor wrote an email to me in the first week of September, explaining his absence: “I will go to the ME as a dispatched worker from tomorrow to next Thursday”. The reason, he said, was that “they don’t know about adaptation” and that they needed assistance from KACCC. KACCC is structured into three divisions: policy, cooperation & coordination, and knowledge & intelligence, led by the team leaders Dr J., Dr K., and Dr L. From 2009 until 2010, Dr Park Youngha was the director of KACCC, followed by Dr Lee Byung-Kook and Kwon Younghan. Comparing the list of employees in 2010 with today’s, there are several changes. Before Dr J. started at KACCC as the policy team leader, he worked for KEI for more than 15 years. His education background is in landscape architecture (Bachelor), urban planning (Master), and climate change modeling (PhD), all received from Seoul National University. One employee admitted to me once that Dr J. is the effective director of KACCC because he works very hard, not like the official director Dr Park. Even when the director is responsible for a project, it is mostly in the hands of Dr J. The education background of KACCC employees is very diverse. One of the employees explained that she did her Master’s degree in Urban Engineering in the UK and that she found it difficult to connect questions of climate change adaptation to her training when she started to work at KACCC. There was no introduction to adaptation issues for her job position at KACCC and she had to learn about climate change adaptation all by herself. Other fields of education were natural sciences, engineering, and social sciences especially economics. On the diversity of backgrounds, Dr Park Yongha argued that this is good thing, because many approaches to the same problem (“climate change”) are combined and it is seen from different perspectives. In South Korea, it is common for government employees to change their job position on a regular basis, every two or three years. The same applies to KEI and KACCC. KACCC director, Dr Park, left his position after two years, in December 2010, and continued to work on a research project on the Mekong river at KEI. When asked about the reason for this turnover practice, an employee replied that she does not really know but she thinks that it is done to prevent corruption. The consequence is that substantial time is required to familiarize new employees with the job, like the new head of the division at the ME (in summer 2010), or that foci in these units may change.


Figure 6: Discussion after lunch with the policy research team

Another important actor group, besides government actors like KACCC employees, consisted of experts who were consulted when it came to the discussion of government project proposals. These experts were mostly university professors who participated in those meetings besides KACCC and ME actors. Examples of such meetings were the presentation of the Gangwon adaptation plans, the proposal of CCAIS, and a meeting on the construction of a GIS of climate change-related information for mediumterm planning. The following description can be seen as an example of such an expert meeting and illustrates the positions of the different actors. The gathering on GIS database building took place on August 13th, from 4pm to 6pm in a seminar room on the 3rd floor. The meeting actually started at 4:20 and there were four employees of KACCC, three from ME, four experts (three from universities and one from a local development project). The people in this round did not seem as if they knew each other, because before the presentation, there was a round of introductions, and after each introduction everyone clapped. The people sat at a U-shaped conference table. Experts and KACCC actors sat across from each other, with one ME member at the bottom part of the U looking straight to the presentation screen. A KACCC actor from the policy division had prepared the presentation, including a PowerPoint presentation with paper copies,



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

but the speaker was a KACCC team leader. After the presentation which took about 30 minutes, there was a round in which the four experts gave their opinion on the presentation. These comments were written down by two younger KACCC policy team members (R. and W.) who took a back seat. The experts directed their message to KACCC members who were the recipients. The three ME employees sat there uninvolved. The ME employees and experts were in a jokey mood, and one of them told a joke, but KACCC employees could not join in the laughter. Everyone received a printout of the PPT: large and in color for the ME visitors, smaller but in color for the experts, black and white for KACCC. The description of the setting of the meeting reveals how hierarchy in this part of the adaptation actor-network is expressed through material arrangements or objects. Of course, there are also practices that express dependencies as well; for instance, one ME actor asked for a sheet of paper and a cup of coffee that were brought to him in a servile manner by a KACCC researcher. The involvement of experts from various universities (such as Chungang University, Hangyeong Universty, Seokyeong University, Hanyang University) implies an extension of the political actor-network and expresses a strong interface between scientific and political actors. The experts can influence the outcome or the realization of a project. On the role of experts, two KACCC actors (Y. and H.) explained that half of the experts are usually invited by the project initiator, and the other half are from the head institute (in this case ME). This is how the initiator of a project or a project leader is able to influence the meeting, because he may choose experts who support his ideas. Moreover, they admitted that some experts are regular visitors and friends of KACCC members. Also, one professor who is attached to TERRECO told me that he was invited by a friend to serve as an expert at KEI and that this was not the first time. Experts usually receive a reimbursement for their expenses, as well as an invitation to lunch or dinner. Thus, the focus has already shifted slightly from inside KACCC to other actors in the adaptation network. The reason is that all KACCC networking activities relate to other actors. But before looking more closely at the interactions with actors dealing with adaptation in agriculture let us first consider activities such as projects and statements regarding climate change adaptation by KACCC actors.


Projects and aims of K ACCC

The tasks at KACCC are divided among different projects. Most projects last for a period of one year, January to December. One of the female employees gave me a list of the ongoing projects in 2010. The selection of projects at KACCC is done in compliance with the ME. Y. told me that it is mostly a top-down decision. However, KACCC employees can also propose projects that they find relevant, for example the Climate Change Adaptation Information System (CCAIS). The first project focused on the establishment of an information transfer system in order to provide and share domestic and international data on adaptation in a quick and efficient manner. Research institutes, ministries, regional governments, and international organizations were considered to feed information into the database system that would be supervised by KACCC. The project’s name was Climate Change Adaptation Information System. This system is an outcome of the adaptation network which includes the involvement of many diverse actors. The second project, for which two employees in the policy division mainly worked, was in support of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The goal was to “develop the manual for taking adaptation actions in people’s real life” (from H.’s presentation). Examples from “real life” were routinely washing hands in order to prevent epidemics, green roofs, and more green surfaces in urban areas. The third and the fourth projects related to the implementation of adaptation in selected regions. In one project, guidelines for adaptation measurements for local governments were under way (by E., a female KACCC researcher) and a consulting team helped regional actors with regard to policy-setting. Another employee developed a system of statistical indicators to assess adaptation policy progress. In an interview in May 2010, Dr J. explained that the core aim of KACCC during this year was the formulation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan and the development of adaptation measures for local governments. The writing of this plan was under the supervision of KACCC. Although there was a publication of the ME called “Guide for local governments for adaptation to climate change” (“지자체 기후변화 적응을 위한 업무안내서”, 2009), Dr J. said that these guidelines would need specification because they did not seem to be “sufficient”. In order



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

to develop blueprint climate change impact assessment and adaptation measures, KACCC selected “eligible regions based on six criteria: landscape characteristics (mountains/flatland inland/seashore), urbanization rate (urban/rural), vulnerability rank (1st-16th of the 16 South Korean provinces and cities), population size, administration level (province/city agglomeration), and the availability of relevant statistics (for example temperature, precipitation). The pre-selection of these criteria and the regions and cities were accomplished by KEI in 2009. The selection was confirmed eventually by ME. The selected areas were Seoul City, Incheon City, Jeju Province, and Gangwon Province. These case studies were chosen to develop adaptation policies on a regional and local scale. In the same year, the local governments of Incheon City and Gangwon Province initiated adaptation plans. During 2010, there was substantial activity at KACCC to develop adaptation plans for the Seoul Metropolitan Area and Incheon City, focusing on natural hazards and public health based on climate change modeling. A co-worker of the Seoul Municipal office stayed in the KACCC office to cooperate with the local experts. When asked why so much attention was given to Seoul and Incheon, one employee replied that meteorological data is available for these areas given that there are five weather stations in Seoul that have recorded weather data over a period of 30 years; and regarding Incheon, climate change would have such a strong impact, especially sea level rise. However, some of the current projects in the KACCC office did not focus on adaptation to climate change as such, like a study of environmental management on Jeju Island by R. and Dr J. The employees who focused on this project in particular, R., described the project in an email to a Hawaiian environmental office worker: “The Environment Resource management for Jeju Island focuses on conservation management and sustainable development providing a GIS database for topography, geology, landscape, water, air, noise, waste and recycling, soil, and biodiversity.” Several times during 2010 there were business trips to Jeju Island. The budget of KACCC allows the employees to go on business trips to build cooperations and to learn from other countries’ experience, for example Australia and New Zealand (August 2010, visit to local governments in Melbourne and Christchurch), Philippines (September 2010), China (November 2010), Hawaii (April 2011, Jeju project), Germany (March 2012). Some of these trips focused on learning from other countries’ experience with adaptation policies (Australia), and during other trips the


purpose was to present South Korea’s experience (China). Although these trips are not in the focus of this study, they can be seen as illustrating how the adaptation agenda was on the move and was circulated. Another indicator of the mobility of adaptation was a subproject of the international cooperations division called “International trend research plan for adaptation on climate change”, in which adaptation policies of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United States, Germany, and the Netherlands were compared in terms of institutional structure, strategies, and budget. There was a genuine interest in the adaptation policies of other countries and it seemed that the actors at KACCC wanted to learn from these experiences.

Concepts of climate change adaptation

The short description of KACCC projects given above shows that most but not all actors at this center dealt with questions of climate change and adaptation. Official publications and the homepage of KACCC may suggest that there was one concept of adaptation that stands for the whole institute, as well as for each actor within it. However, in discussions and interviews, when different employees were asked what adaptation means to them, it became clear that there is not one but many understandings of adaptation and that there is uncertainty about what it is exactly. In this section, it is argued that adaptation is individually interpreted according to the educational background, former work experiences and general experiences of the employees. The second argument is that some researchers are uncertain about what adaptation actually means. The first argument is based on one interview with the policy team leader, Dr J., and on one presentation by a researcher (Dr G.) who started to work at KACCC in the summer of 2010. Before this, he worked for an environmental research institute in Japan. When asked how he would define adaptation to climate change, Dr J. answered: “It’s a difficult question. Hmm, in case of people – in my opinion – or in a higher level group, there’s no problem. The problem is the lowest group of people and the natural environment also, there is – if they can’t move at that time that is a problem; in the case of some biological species, if they cannot move, there’s



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

big problem. In case of forest or some kind of other species, they can only move within that area. That species will be in danger. But in case of another species, they can adapt ... like birds or mammals”.

To illustrate his argument he mentioned a forest area at Mount Halla on Jeju Island well known to him, where the habitat area is drastically decreasing because of climate change and therefore there is “no hope” for the local species. For him, adaptation related to humans, fauna, and flora. The second example was a presentation by one team leader, Dr G., held at an internal colloquium that was organized twice a month. The topic was climate change, heat waves and adaptation. In the theoretical part of his talk, he spoke, among other things, about how to “estimate the effectiveness of adaptation to global warming”, including the assessment of “autonomous adaptation” and the requirement of “adaptive velocity” to cope with climate change and variability. The idea of assessing the effectiveness of adaptation was based on the assumption that there is one right form of adaptation. He presented adaptation in his talk as a matter of “wisdom” and “efficiency” and he used additional concepts from his former workplace (some of the figures were in Japanese). After his talk, we spoke about the concepts he used and his understanding of adaptation. He explained that before he started to work at KACCC, he was a researcher in Japan and that he was familiar with adaptation policy in Japan. He argued that in Japan the concept of adaptation was being implemented faster, that they had a 3D adaptation model, and that South Korea was five to ten years behind Japan. He criticized that the level of research is too low. For him, adaptation policies were difficult to realize without environmental impact assessment which was hardly manageable in South Korea because of the lack of historical data (in “depth and width”). The available data sets only cover the past 20 years. This example shows that Dr G.’s assessment of the current situation depends on his foreign experience, as well as his work with adaptation-related concepts used at his former workplace. Another KACCC employee did her Master’s degree in the UK, and this was clearly reflected in her daily work: information about workshops in England, or UK publications like “Shaping climate-resilient development – a framework for decision-making” (2009) could be found on her desk. These last two examples show that there are different ways in which the adaptation agenda, including additional concepts, could circulate and became mobile, and influence the South Korean adaptation network.


However, these are assumptions that need evidence from empirical data. In the following chapter, an example of the mobility of the adaptation agenda will be given. The second argument in this section is that some KACCC actors are uncertain what adaptation actually means. During participant observation and informal chats, several KACCC employees showed that they were unsure about the adaptation concept and were willing to admit this honestly. One of them was N. who was working on the comparative study of different national adaptation strategies. He admitted that he did not know much about adaptation and asked if “I would be willing to teach him what adaptation is”. When I asked another KACCC team member to tell me about her perspective on adaptation, she replied that this “is a little bit difficult to explain without target or focus”. She argued that ecosystems and “natural things” will experience severe consequences of climate change, a situation that is caused by humans. Because of climate change, the natural environment and the economy will change rapidly, she said, so that “we should make a plan with the same speed as the change” (H., a female KACCC researcher). Similarly, Dr J. mentioned that “Koreans are eager to make plans”, so also in the case of adaptation. In the talks with KACCC actors, many of them stressed the significance of actions and plans although the core of the agenda was not consistent. These examples show that there were different understandings of adaptation, and sometimes actors are unsure what it means. Despite this, there was never a moment of doubt or contestation regarding adaptation per se. Although some actors sometimes expressed their boredom or frustration, adaptation as such was not criticized. Another observation resulting from analysis of the empirical data is that the definitions of adaptation given by different actors are closely entangled with understandings of the role of the government, the responsibilities of national actors, the significance of the South Korean regions, and the relationship between the political center and the periphery. The details of this argument will be presented in the chapter “The self-position of KACCC” and in the empirical case study in Inje. However, it can be anticipated that central political actors see their role as crucial in the implementation of adaptation to climate change and therefore they emphasize the responsibility of the state as the central actor in this domain. For example, it was noted in an official document on the adaptation plans for the Seoul Metropolitan Area in the section of health, that the aim is to



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

“protect people from heat waves and air pollution” which emphasizes the role of the political actors as “protectors” of vulnerable people by providing cooling centers for the aged and by building a warning system.


mobilit y of the adap tation agenda

In the previous section, it was assumed that the adaptation agenda becomes mobile through the mobility of the actors in the network (job changes, studying abroad). However, it is methodologically difficult to “reconstruct” the process of traveling in the past. Nevertheless, there are indicators that support the idea of mobility of the adaptation agenda. This is important because the mobility of adaptation is at the root of this study, and the following section will provide evidence that it is a reasonable assumption. The subsequent section describes how KACCC actors worked on a brochure on the National Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan by using information from various webpages and by processing this information.

Indicators for the mobility of the adaptation agenda The indicators chosen are time, references to epistemic communities made by the actors themselves, and business trips that were undertaken to learn from other countries’ experience. When looking at the mobility of an agenda, the timing of events is an interesting aspect. The first vivid discussions on climate change adaptation in scientific and political communities took place in 2007, and the scientific publications and political programs on adaptation to climate change in the following years are a reflection of the ongoing intensity of the debates. Along with these debates, there were many governments which launched national adaptation programs (Swart et al. 2009). In South Korea, the starting point of a specific adaptation network can be dated to the summer of 2009, when KACCC was founded. Given that there were only a few years between the publication of the IPCC report in 2007 (in which adaptation was upgraded) and the response of governments, including the South Korean government under


Lee Myung-Bak, the lapse of time is relatively short, so it can be argued that the adaptation agenda was very mobile and was seen as so crucial that the South Korean government took action. References made by the actors in the network themselves showing their source of information are another indicator for the mobility of the adaptation concept. A strong argument in favor of climate change adaptation as a mobile agenda is the fact that actors referred to foreign publications (like the Stern Review 2006 which everyone at KACCC had as a special copy on the shelves, the IPCC report 2007, the ADAM project1, “Climate Change Policy in the European Union”, Jordon et al. 2010) in their own documents, in interviews and when they searched for foreign sources to underline their arguments. Here are two situations in which this occurred: One actor (Y.) was looking for a quotation by the Australian Minister of climate change, energy efficiency and water, Penny Wong (in office 2007-2010), roughly saying that there will be severe consequences “if we don’t cope with climate change and that the efforts have to be directed towards adaptation not merely mitigation because global warming can’t be stopped anymore”. Y. searched for it online, and when she found the speech, she took a suitable quotation from the speech Penny Wong gave as a keynote address at the Climate Adaptation Futures Conference in June 20102 . KACCC researcher copied the quotation from the webpage and inserted it in her own document. This example shows that when considering the mobility of adaptation, core argument, concise quotations, statistics, and even pictures are mobile as well. Here is a second example of information transfer. The same actor was working on another government document on adaptation. In the introduction she wrote that global warming will cause a temperature rise of 1.4°C to 3.1°C, and she was looking for the reference. Later, she found this information in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC The Physical Science Basis 2007 on page 791: “For example, stabilizing atmospheric CO 2 at  450 ppm, which will likely result in a global equilibrium warming of 1.4°C to 3.1°C, with a best guess of about

1 |, June 20th, 2013. 2 |, June 20th, 2013.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

2.1°C, would require a reduction of current annual greenhouse gas emissions by 52 to 90% by 2100”.

In this situation, she first had one piece of information she knew (the temperature rise) and then she wanted to insert the reference which she found in the IPCC report but the IPCC sentence indicates that the temperature rise is “likely” and will likely occur under certain conditions. This extra information was not included in Y.’s adaptation document. Business trips were another way how the adaptation agenda became mobile. KACCC actors have undertaken them in order to collect information and inform themselves about political strategies, or adaptation policies, of other countries. E., a member of the policy team, and another KACCC researcher went to Australia and New Zealand (Melbourne, Christ Church, and Wellington) in August 2010 to gather information about how Australian local governments implemented adaptation strategies. She brought three manuals describing local policies that would be “checked and serve as leading guides” for South Korean local implementation. Business trips took place on a regular basis. In April 2010, Dr J. traveled to Germany and visited government institutions, like the German Environmental Institute (Umweltbundesamt), informing himself about the Environmental Atlas (Umweltatlas), and companies like one in Potsdam that specialized in Remote Sensing and GIS. In 2012, he planned another journey to Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria with officials from ME, aiming to learn “about the river restoration such as the Isar and Danube rivers” from local experts and project managers. In the last two years, Dr J. and other actors on the level of team leaders made many journeys, for example to Germany, China, the US, the Philippines, etc. Not all these trips focused on adaptation issues like the one above showing that some actors continued to follow other research interests under the roof of KACCC. These two examples show that there are different influences on South Korean actors regarding the adaptation agenda. Other important moments are international conferences that have connected South Korean and foreign actors, like the 2nd International Symposium on Climate Change and the 32nd session of the IPCC in October 2010 in Busan in which two members of KACCC participated, N. and Dr S. In early November 2010, Dr S. held a presentation for all KACCC and KEI workers summarizing the Busan meeting and the discussions in the working groups. Especially


at such international conferences, the adaptation agenda is mobile in the sense that information about adaptation strategies, programs, and experiences circulate among the participating actors.

Assemblage of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan This section shows how the introduction of the National Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan was assembled on the basis of information that other actors, like the EU, Wikipedia, the WWF, the IPCC, and others have provided online. The ME ordered actors in KACCC policy division to prepare a new version of the plan because “they didn’t like the old one”, according to Y. and S., two researchers in the policy team. The responsible KACCC actor sat at her computer and compiled the text of the introduction. Analysis of the text shows that many text passages were derived from other sources. The following table shows quotations taken from the document and their original sources. The sources were not mentioned in the text. These examples show that the introduction as well as the first chapter of the National Plan brochure used major statements from different sources that were available online without indicating the source. In the following chapters of this brochure, specific data from South Korea were used. The availability of information on the Internet seems to be a crucial facilitator of mobility of information. Of course, one actor has to choose that piece of information by selecting a webpage, by finding the appropriate sentence or figure, and by tagging and inserting it into the new document. Then, the information can be adjusted to suit the particular purpose. KACCC actors were able to access information online using literature databases: on almost every desk, one could see the list of available databases with a specific KACCC account, like Science Direct, Springer, Environment Complete EBSCO research (e-books), Point Carbon, Westlaw (Online legal research for legal and law related materials and services), OECD/OLISnet, ENDS report, Worldwatch, and WEF (Water Environmental Federation). It is not possible to say how much these databases were used, or if they were used at all, but every actor at KACCC had the opportunity to use them.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Table 5: National Climate Change Plan and used online sources Brochure on National Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan

Original source

Page 1 The earth’s climate is changing. Global temperatures are predicted to continue rising, bringing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

The earth’s climate is changing and the impacts are already being felt in Europe and across the world. Global temperatures are predicted to continue rising, bringing changes in weather patterns, rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (...) Source: EU White Paper for Environment and Climate Change Changes made: Omission of “and the impacts are already being felt in Europe and across the world”

Sources: EU White Paper, content&view=article&id=65&Itemid=84&lang=en accessed December 13th, 2010, , English Wikipedia, accessed December 13th, 2010


Page 1 Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events.

Page 2 Climate is changing rapidly and its effects already are being felt. The impacts will grow and will profoundly affect us, our kids, grandkids and subsequent generations; and will affect wildlife and everything else we care about. Our challenge: to slow climate change, to reduce our vulnerability and to adapt.

Climate change is a long-term change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in the average weather conditions or a change in the distribution of weather events with respect to an average, for example, greater or fewer extreme weather events. Source: English Wikipedia webpage “Climate Change” Changes made: none Climate is changing rapidly and its effects already are being felt. The impacts will grow and will profoundly affect us, our kids, grandkids and subsequent generations; and will affect wildlife and everything else we care about. Our challenge: to slow climate change, to reduce our vulnerability and to adapt. Source: WWF webpage, section “Impacts and Adaptation” Changes made: none

Source: WWF webpage accessed December 13th, 2010, IPCC report 2007



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Page 2 Over the past century the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74°C.

The global average surface temperature has increased, especially since about 1950. The updated 100-year trend (1906-2005) of 0.74°C +/- 0.18°C is larger than the 100-year warming trend at the time of the TAR (1901-2000) of 0.6°C +/- 0.2°C due to additional warm years. Source: IPCC report 2007, page: 36 Changes made: Presentation of statistical trend as a fact, simplification

Page 6 Adaptation strategies Adaptation efforts seek to anticipate and respond to likely climate change impacts Temperature and precipitation patterns, crop viabilities, sea levels, and the spread of diseases will all be affected by a humaninfluenced global climate regime. If negative impacts are to be minimized, each of these shifts will require responses.

Mitigation means efforts to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts include individual actions, like eating less meat, as well as systemic approaches, like a cap-and-trade system. Changes in land use practices, so that soils or forests store more carbon, count as mitigation as well.

Adaptation efforts, on the other hand, seek to anticipate and respond to likely climate change impacts. Temperature and precipitation patterns, crop viabili(b) Mitigation strategies Mitigation means efforts to reduce ties, sea levels, and the spread of diseases will all be affected by a or offset greenhouse gas emissihuman-influenced global climate ons. regime. If negative impacts are These efforts include individual to be minimized, each of these actions, like eating less meat, as well as systemic approaches, like a shifts will require responses. cap-and-trade system. Changes in Source: People and Place Webpage land use practices, so that soils or (think tank by ecotrust) Change: none, except the switch forests store more carbon, count of adaptation and mitigation as mitigation as well.


Page 6 How mitigation and adaptation are connected:

Source: Clean Air Partnership, also available on “People and Place” Webpage (think tank by ecotrust)

Sources: Clean Air Partnership, accessed June 20th, 2013, People and Place for_resilient_communities and library/ image/2009/1/21/mitigation_and_adaptation; both accessed December 13th, 2010

The table above shows that the adaptation concept is a mobile agenda which does not have only one source but exists in a global discourse in which political actors (EU), NGOs (WWF, Clean Air Protection), environment-related blocs (People and Place), online encyclopedia (Wikipedia) and research publications (IPCC reports) take part. In this example, basic statements from this global discourse were picked by a KACCC actor followed by a description of the specific national adaptation plans for South Korea. The reason why the quotations were chosen are the justification they provide for the implementation of adaptation projects. Given that adaptation is a mobile political agenda, this justification cannot come from the local actors at KACCC themselves but has to be drawn from the justifications that are inherent in the global adaptation discourse. A circumstance that favors recourse to the global adaptation discourse is the time pressure under which KACCC has to work. As already mentioned in two quotations above, the speed of implementation of adaptation projects is very important to KACCC actors. The focus is on developing strategies and projects. Work on the theoretical base of the adaptation idea would not fit this perspective. This chapter has argued that the adaptation agenda is a mobile idea, showing the many ways in which KACCC actors actively seek information and include this information in the implementation of South Korean adaptation. At the point where it comes to specific sectoral adaptation strategies, the actors start to develop individual plans for South Korea on the basis of local characteristics in various sectors.


The problematization of climate change in South Korea The future of our nations today, and of humanity tomorrow, depends on how we respond to climate change now. South Korean Presidential Committee on Green Growth

The process of problematization is one of the five moments in the translation process. Statements of problematization not only define an issue as a problem, but also provide legitimation for facing this problem. The problem defined here is climate change, and one of the solutions offered is adaptation to climate change. The quotation at the beginning of this chapter from the Presidential Committee shows that climate change is not a minor circumstance but a central concern in the political network of South Korea. Climate change is understood not as positivistic knowledge but as the social construction of a wide actor-network. Through the problematization of climate change, the issue becomes relevant, not only for political actors, while new political actors (like KACCC) were created in this process. There are many actors that were part of the problematization of climate change, like KEI, KACCC, KMA and KFRI. They have negotiated MOUs emphasizing the sharing of data. The term problematization is used in this text refer to the notion of making an issue relevant for politics, and of specifying or localizing the issue because climate change as a global problem is then related to specific changes in the South Korean ecosystem. Part of the specification is the creation of particular spaces, such as those which are classified as espe-


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

cially “affected” by climate change by the actors involved, and therefore receive more attention than others. The problematization of climate change in the political actor-network is closely entangled with attempts to give an actor, or several actors, responsibility for solving the problem. In the case of climate change adaptation, this was KACCC, which assumed that role in cooperation with other governmental institutions. In this process KACCC embraced its role, and established itself as a spokesperson of adaptation, expressing “in their own language what others say and want, why they act in the way they do and how they associate with each other” (Callon 1986: 223). The insights in this chapter will be drawn from interviews, observation, and publications like The Korean Climate Change Assessment Report 2010, published by ME and the National Institute of Environmental Research, which was discussed among KACCC members. A narrative frequently brought up by KACCC actors was that South Korea will be more seriously affected by climate change than the global average. The following statistic was given to prove this argument. In the last 100 years (1912-2008), there was an average temperature increase of 1.7° C and a 19% increase of precipitation in the 6 major metropolitan areas. A study by Chung et al. (2004) demonstrates that the mean annual temperature in the capital, Seoul, has increased by 0.52°C per decade (2004: 152). According to the authors, this increase is due to rapid industrialization. They argue that the temperature increase correlates with industrialization. In rural areas, the temperature rise was lower than in the urban centers. The sea level has risen approximately 8 cm over the last 43 years (19642006). In general, KACCC actors assume the A1B scenario, signifying a temperature rise of 1°C by 2020, 2°C by 2050 and 4°C by 2100, an increase of precipitation relative to 2000 of 15% in 2050, 17% in 2100, and a rise of the sea level of 9.5 cm by 2050 and 20.9 cm by 2100. However, in the chapter “Observation and prediction of climate change” of the assessment report (that was under revision at KACCC in 2010), one can read that “Korea’s climate change is frequently thought to be similar to the Earth’s average climate, and is sometimes misconstrued in examples, but since many primary factors that affect the climate differ, Korea presents a unique climate change”. The reasons mentioned are “distinct geographical surroundings”, that lead to influences from both continental and oceanic climates, rapid economic growth and GHG emissions, urbaniza-

Problematization of climate change

tion, land cover changes, and China’s economic growth (Korean Climate Change Assessment Report 2010: ii). Dr J. illustrated the situation for Koreans in the future in a talk given in October 2010. He presented a picture of a polar bear on an ice floe saying that “he (the polar bear) has difficulties in his environment like the people. People will have the same experience as the bear”. He used the picture with the icon of climate change, the polar bear, below which is a common picture in the global media discourse (downloadable on many different webpages1). Figure 7: Polar bear on an ice floe

Source: Arne Naevra

The gradual changes of the climate, the successive rise of temperatures and precipitation, are not the only concerns of the actors interviewed. Equally important are extreme weather events, like heavy snowfall or rain, typhoons, and extreme temperatures. Examples of such extreme weather events mentioned by the actors are the above-average snowfall in the winter of 2010, three typhoons in August 2010 during the monsoon season, and a heavy storm on September 1st, 2010. In a talk with one KACCC employee, he made clear that his team is very much concerned with extreme weather events due to climate change. In the KACCC Newsletter published in summer 2012, Dr Jeongeun Kang underlined the significance of disaster prevention as a means of adaptation: 1 | for instance:, May 17th, 2012.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

“In this present time, in which disaster prevention policies for climate change adaptation are being emphasized, I think that these efforts are more than necessary” (p. 3).

A speaker at the 2nd International Symposium on Climate Change argued that South Korea will be highly affected by these hard-to-foresee events. During this event, it was possible to talk to Kenneth C. Crawford, former director of the Oklahoma Climatological Survey and now Vice-Administrator of KMA. Talking about his position, he explained that he and other KMA employees did not expect and could not predict the storm on September 1st, 2010, which caused a lot of damage in the capital city, because it was a once-in-a-hundred-years event. Furthermore, he said that his institute was criticized by the National Assembly for not predicting this particular event. The reason why gradual climatic changes do not cause major concern in the political adaptation-network is that it is possible to predict the changes to come. The Vice-Minister of the ME, Mun Yeong-Sa, explained in his speech on October 8th, 2010 that “we need to monitor the system in order to enjoy nature in a safe environment”. This quotation is based on the assumption that through technical data storage and analysis, it is possible to control the environmental system in terms of gradual change. The role of data is very important in that context, for they provide the base for the evidence of climate change, as well as a major part of the solution, because with the data one can model future changes. In this sense, the modeling of climate change scenarios plays a crucial role, given that “programmes of government have depended upon the construction of devices for the inscription of reality in a form where it can be debated and diagnosed” (Miller & Rose 1990: 7). The compilation of data and modeling are the outcome of such devices (like computer programs, cartography) that construct the “reality” of climate change. Climate change as such cannot be displayed, so that actors need to operationalize it with indicators that show climate change in a concrete and mensurable way. Examples are the expected changes in ecosystem services based on the shift of climate zones under certain climate change scenarios, like in Figure 7. The information that is displayed on such maps is not the outcome of neutral recording, but a specific way to make the problematized issue, climate change, susceptible to evaluation, calculation, and political intervention. Climate change is not only problematized on one scale.

Problematization of climate change

Figure 8: Changes of climate zones according to A2 scenario

Source: Ecorea 2008: 111

Kwon Won-Tae from KMA explained that “we need to know how climate will change locally” in order to make decisions for impact assessment, mitigation, and adaptation. In order to know this, she argued, a downscaling technique has to be chosen because the quantification of uncertainties are essential. For example, KACCC actors dealt with impacts of climate change for the entire country but focused on the metropolitan areas Seoul and Incheon. Three major aspects of this problematization in Seoul were the flood risks due to higher precipitation rates in the watersheds of the Han River, heat waves caused by higher surface temperatures, and meteorological incidents that would prevent the air interchange with maritime air. With the help of the ArcGIS program, one employee at KACCC calculated the risk maps and indicated the flood vulnerability index for each city district in the Seoul Metropolitan Area. The two figures are taken from the series of the 50, 100, 200, and 300-year flood. The maps were not only for internal use but were presented in E.’s talk “Climate change adaptation plans for local governments” in August 2010. The technical possibilities for modeling climate change make it possible to project today’s knowledge into the future. In the figure showing the shift of the temperature zones, the projection is made up to 2090. In the other figure, the risk of a flood that will occur every 50 and 100 years is calculated.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Figure 9: Flood Vulnerability Index of the city districts in the Seoul Metropolitan Area

Source: Presentation E. K., 2010

The reason for calculations and the mapping of climate change impacts, like the shift of temperature zones, is not to provide a basis for political decisions in future decades given that technology will further improve and that political leadership will have changed, but to dramatize the picture of climate change. When looking at climatic changes and their impacts in the following next two decades, many actors argue that they will be manageable, but extending that time period and extrapolating data leads to a dramatization of climate change. The other examples draw on the calculation of an extreme weather event, like a flood in a highly populated area. The extreme weather event in this case is by definition an event that occurs every 50, 100, 200, or 300 years. As such, the event is itself a scientific construction based on water volumes (rain and discharge rate), altitude of the city districts, and protective barriers. Several authors (Renn 2011, Müller-Mahn 2012) have stressed that climate change can be understood as a risk and that dealing with risks reveals certain characteristics of the actors involved. A particular risk becomes “manageable” for actors by rational risk analysis revealing likelihoods and probabilities of potential risk events to occur. In a conversation with Dr J., he pointed out that the problem of adaptation policies in South Korea is the lack of meteorological information, thus stressing the insufficiency of risk analysis. This seemed an important point, given that substantial effort was invested by KACCC actors to launch a database system, called CCAIS. The significance of climate monitoring and forecasting was mentioned as crucial in the adaptation process (Cho Won-dong, Vice Minister at Prime Minister’s Office at the Green Korea Conference 2009), a perspective which assumes that one will better adapt to climate change

Problematization of climate change

if one has enough information about the environment. The availability of climate-relevant data leads to the overcoming of uncertainty. The narrative that was brought up in discussions with KACCC actors was that calculability of future climatic conditions provides the basis for creating realistic adaptation options. While most of the problematization of climate change in South Korea can be understood in the direction of the “feasibility based on information” attitude, there was a moment in which a geo-deterministic notion came up: the correlation between temperature and death rate. To illustrate the positive correlation between temperature and death rate per day, several KACCC actors presented a diagram with a scatter plot of the number of daily deaths depending on temperature. The graph indicated that from 28°C day temperature on, “the death rate will be increased”, according to one KACCC researcher. However, the data displayed in the graph could not serve as evidence for this argument, because the correlation was at best slightly positive. The problematization of climate change reveals an image of spatial configurations that may expose political interests and convictions. There are two observations that are interesting: first, the concentration on Seoul and Incheon, and second the problematization of climate change in North Korea. As already mentioned, KACCC focused on climate change problematization in Seoul and Incheon when it came to the local scale. The reason mentioned by H., a KACCC researcher, was the data availability. Another reason was that Seoul (서울특별시) is the political centre with around 23 million inhabitants, which is about half of the country’s population. The centrality of Seoul plays a major role in national politics. Although this point seems self-evident, there were chances to include other South Korean regions or cities, because a few had already prepared regional adaptation plans, which usually included a chapter on climate change at the beginning. However, these plans were not respected. For example, Y. commented on a regional adaptation plan for Gangwon and said “these are no real adaptation plans”. Although there was interaction between KACCC actors and actors from regional adaptation institutes, the focus on problematizing climate change in Seoul and Incheon prevailed. Examples from these two cities were usually chosen for presentations and information on adaptation to climate change. As such, the focus of KACCC can be understood as an example of the existing “spatial selectivity inherent in the state’s industrial and regional policies” (Park BG 2008: 48), which


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Source: Ministry of Environment 2010

has caused uneven regional development. Selectivity means that national political actors have put much attention on the economic development of the capital city and its neighboring province, Gyeonggi, as well as the Southeast (such as Busan, Daegu, North Gyeongsang and South Gyeongsang), while neglecting other regions. This regionalism is rooted primarily in socio-economic differences among the regions, which themselves were instrumentalized by the political leadership (Croissant 2008: 315).

Figure 10: Climate change impacts in 2010 and 2050


Problematization of climate change

The centralist political system facilitates the realization of uneven development. Boyer and Ahn provide five reasons for the persistence of centralization (1991: 23): first, the Confucian tradition of a center-down authority structure, second, the centralization legacies of the Yi dynasty (1392-1910) and Japanese colonialism (1910-1945), third, the neoclassical top-down growth model, fourth, the perception of North Korea as a continuing threat which provides a rationale for central control of all public affairs, and fifth, the experience of military regimes (from 1961-1987). The spatial selectivity of KACCC in terms of climate change assessment and adaptation projects (in Seoul and Incheon) shows that KACCC’s efforts are selective and do not consider all regions in South Korea equally. This perspective can be questioned, especially in the light of the fact tht the goal of adaptation policies is “to support vulnerable” people (J., a KACCC team leader) who have been identified in the metropolitan area (for example, the aged generation) but not in other regions. A second interesting spatial aspect is the extension of the problematization of climate change to North Korean territory. The map shows the contours of North Korea and climate change impacts for the years 2010 and 2050. This map was included in the new adaptation brochure published by ME, pp. 26 and 27. The preparation for it was partly done by KACCC actors. The caption of the left map is “What is the current state of South Korea?” (“우리나라” means literally “our country”) and it shows current climatic changes. The right map displays the climatic changes predicted for 2050. Explanations beside the right map relate to topics, rather than to explicitly named regions, as in the case of the left map. The two maps display the contours of the Korean peninsula, both North and South Korea, without any national or administrative borders. The left map shows particular climate change impacts in selected cities and provinces. There are also graphs that illustrate changes in the parameters for average temperature, days with heat waves, tropical nights, and precipitation from 1971-2000 and in 2010, as well as the number of disaster incidents due to heavy rain damage in summer. These graphs are drawn over the territory of North Korea. The right map shows expected changes in divers sectors, like reduction of rice yield, sea level rise, enlargement of the subtropical zone, etc. Interestingly, North and South Korea are both displayed in this map. In the map of 2010, North Korea is hidden by the graphs.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

When discussing these two maps, two KACCC actors argued that one can assume that there will be a unification of the two Korean states by 2050, and this is why the representation in the right map is legitimate. Interestingly, the issue of unification, which has nothing to do with adaptation politics, shows up at this point. Unification is a major concern of many political actors in South Korea. Cumings writes that when the Western socialist states disappeared, the official line in Seoul was that it was necessary to prepare for a North Korean collapse on the German model, followed by its absorption into the Republic of Korea (2005: 506). The view of unification is slightly different today and expresses caution regarding the economic responsibilities that would result from unification of the two states.

The problematization according to sectors

The problematization of climate change is not only accomplished in spatial terms, but in sectoral terms, too. The information for the following table is taken from official adaptation plans, as well as from interviews with actors. Table 6: Problematization of climate change according to sectors Sector

Climate change impacts

Prediction of climate change


700 deaths from heat waves in 1994; Tropical diseases increased (malaria): 6 cases in 1990s, 2051 cases in 2006; Allergy patients increased by 29% (2002-2007)

Each day with a temperature over 28.1°C, an average of 11 deaths occur; 13,000 food poisoning patients due to temperature rise are expected in the summers of the 2050s

Disaster control

Heavy rain in Seoul: 94 mm per hour, 2 deaths, 1 missing; Floods in Gangwon Province (July 15th, 2006)

Damage caused by typhoons and torrential rains increases by 320% every 10 years; Frequency and strength of typhoons and torrential rain is expected to rise

Problematization of climate change


Inflow and spread of subtropical diseases and pests (e.g. fulgoridae); Major crop production areas are advancing north (e.g. apple from Daegu to Yeongwol)

Temperature increase by 2°C results in loss of 34% of temperate fruit production areas and 70% of highland Chinese cabbage


Large-scale landslide in alpine areas (e.g. Mount Jiri); Spread of pine pitch canker since 2008

Increased landslide frequency due to heavy rainfall and forest fire disasters due to temperature increase and rainfall change

Marine/ Fisheries

Sea level rise about 8 cm (1.9 mm per year) in the past 43 years; Temperature increase 1.31°C during the past 41 years; Change of currents and diadromous fisheries

Sea level rise 9.5 cm by 2050 and 20.9 cm by 2100 compared with 2008; Surface water temperature increase by 1.3°C by 2050 and 2.9°C by 2100 compared to 2008

Water management

Flood damage by typhoon Rusa in Gangwon Province (August 2002); Restriction on water supply due to winter droughts

Water shortage will be exacerbated up to 3.3 billion tons by increased evapotranspiration due to climate change

Change of temperature Ecosystems Acceleration of flowering time (6-8 days) over the last zones 30 years; Acceleration of Abies koreana W. degradation at Mt. Halla since 1990 E conomy/ are not mentioned in the Energy official plan with regard to how climate change might affect them Source: KACCC 2010

The column showing climate change impacts reveals that many events and statistics are explained as the result of climate change. Sectors relating



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

to the second and third economic sector, and to energy were not explicitly mentioned. This is an interesting fact, since adaptation to climate change is mentioned as one pillar of Green Growth. Here, the link between adaptation and the economic sector has been left out. Agriculture in this list is one of many sectors in which climate change impacts are expected. Most crucial is the shift of temperature zones. The problematization according to different sectors is a first step in the involvement and enrolement of other political actors, given that different actor groups have specialities and concentrate on one sector, such as the Rural Development Administration (RDA) on agriculture.

B e yond

problematiz ation : justifications for climate change adap tation

Problematization is one key to the legitimization of adaptation policies. However, justifications of adaptation to climate change are drawn not only from problematizing climate change but also when other arguments are included. To explain these arguments and to compare them is the concern of this section. The justifications of climate change adaptation expressed in the arguments and practices of various political actors (partly in anticipation of the following chapter) are the focus of this chapter. These justifications are important for the network because they legitimate the pursuit of adaptation by political actors. The examination of justifications expressed by those actors is a step which goes beyond describing the problematization of climate change and points to the following translation steps, enrolement and interessement. Political actors in the South Korean climate change network have assessed climate change as one of the main challenges of this century. They have argued for and presented strategies that are characterized by different rationalities. Rationalities link up to justifications and allow an analysis of motives and interests. In this context, the analytical tool for the interpretation of rationalities is the theory of justification proposed by the two French sociologists Luc Boltanski and Laurent Thévenot (2006, 2007).

Problematization of climate change

Based on the argument that a justification is “an attempt to move beyond stating a particular or personal viewpoint toward providing that the statement is generalizable and relevant for a common good, showing why or how this general claim is legitimate” (Thévenot et al. 2000: 236), first selected observations are described and then linked to the régimes of justification. The second step is to examine the connections between the justification régimes. The central base of adaptation politics is the explicit assumption that adaptation is indispensable. This conviction is expressed for instance through the statement “Climate change adaptation is a must, not an option” and the slogan “Now, we must adapt to the changing climate” (both from a KACCC brochure). There are many more instances illustrating this position. The need for adaptation is also formulated in the National Adaptation Master Plan 2011-2016: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing society today. We will have to adapt to a warmer climate in Korea with more extreme events including heat waves, storms and floods and more”.

In an information video available on the website of KACCC (October 2010, 2 min 21 sec), the speaker says that “adaptation to climate change is not a choice, but a national survival issue”. Besides these explicitly formulated statements, the necessity of adaptation was oftentimes implicitly mentioned during talks with members of KACCC, as well as during official presentations. Most of the statements are linked to justifications that explain why and how they, the interviewed actors, have to do their work. The scientific results (models, projections) demonstrating how South Korea will be affected by climate change are an important source of justifications. The Korean Metrological Administration has published a series of impact assessments showing that in terms of temperature rise and precipitation changes, South Korea will be more strongly affected by climate change than other parts of the world (Preface of the Korean Climate Change Assessment Report, Seung-Joon Yoon, President of the National Institute of Environmental Research). In one KACCC newsletter, one can read that “the Asia-Pacific region is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, and many countries already find it challenging to adapt to their current climates” (KACCC 2013: 2). Beyond the all-embracing scientific dimension, there are other justifications mentioned by several actors



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

directly, or which can be derived from observations made during conferences (Green Growth 2009, 2010, international symposiums) and from the field study at KACCC. Since adaptation to climate change is seen as a sub-goal of the Green Growth strategy, some justifications relate partly to the rationale of Green Growth. First, resulting from the reference to Green Growth, adaptation to climate change has an economic dimension. The narrative of “turning the threat (climate change) into an opportunity” by adapting well was expressed several times by key speakers at the Green Korea Conferences in 2009 and 2010, as well as at the International Workshop on Economics of Climate Change in Korea (2011). This position is in line with the Green Growth strategy’s focus on economic growth. An example from the agricultural sector is the cooperation between RDA and a farmer in Hongcheon, Gangwon Province, where the farmer experimented with cultivation methods in order to stabilize and improve his income. The farmer’s goal was to change his farming practices in order to benefit from higher temperatures that make horticulture possible, for example grapes, which up to that time had been in the Southern provinces, and which fetch higher prices on the market compared to vegetables like potatoes. Although this is not the central point here, the perceptions in this case differed between national actors and the farmer himself. Whereas his case was seen as an example of switching to an adaptation-based agricultural system in order to create new opportunities (the general adaptation strategy of agriculture, Cho 2011: 6), the farmer Kim himself did not understand his new practices as “adaptation”. Besides the justification that adaptation may be good in economic terms, which is the justification régime of the market, there is also a rationale that focuses on ecological concerns, for example environment protection or the preservation of biodiversity. Second, ecological aspects are also picked up to justify climate change adaptation. For instance, one actor argued that adaptation will support the protection of biodiversity and ecosystems (2nd Symposium on Climate Change 2010, Dr J.). In an interview, a KACCC actor expressed his concerns about animals and plants that might be endangered by climate change and have limited possibilities to adapt, for example the pollack, a cold-current fish that will likely disappear due to increased sea temperature in the East Sea. Such thinking can be assigned to the “ecological” régime of justification.

Problematization of climate change

The third aspect of the different justifications given was solidarity with other countries dealing with climate change and the responsibility of the South Korean government. In interviews, several actors advanced the opinion that South Korea has a responsibility in terms of global climate change politics. One said that South Korea is a model region in East and Southeast Asia that is able to assist and help “weaker” countries, like the Philippines or Thailand (KACCC member, August 2010). In September 2010, a KACCC team organized a workshop for Philippine ministerial employees to teach them about climate change adaptation. The Minister for Environment at that time, Maanee Lee, said that “in order to share Korea’s accumulated experiences and knowhow with developing countries, the Ministry will try to provide assistance for them to develop plans for environmental improvement” (Ecorea 2009: 2). Moreover, in the above-mentioned video, in presentations and in informal conversations, the wish to be “the world’s best leading authority in climate change adaptation” (KACCC brochure) was several times expressed by KACCC employees. This ambiguous goal is correlated with other developments in global climate policy, like South Korea’s position in international climate change negotiations, the advertising of Green Growth, and its desire to host the GCF in Songdo which can be interpreted as attempts to establish a reputation and credibility in climate politics. In an interview, K. from the Global Division of the Ministry of Environment said that the position of the South Korean delegation would be to make the highest claim in respect of GHG emission reductions at the COP 16 Conference in Copenhagen (2009) despite its non-Annex-1 status. The reason mentioned was not that South Korea was not legally obliged by it but that South Korea would be “ready to take responsibility internationally”. In 2010, the founding of the Global Green Growth Institute in Seoul with branches in Copenhagen and Abu Dhabi, a prominent board of internationally known researchers and politicians, and the coorganization of the COP 18 (2012) in Doha, Qatar, showed the desire of the South Korean political leadership to become a leader in the international community. This logic represents the third dimension, the régime of reputation. Fourthly, the quotation “We must actively adapt to climate change to keep the beautiful smile of children” (video KACCC website, 38 sec) points to another dimension of justifying climate change adaptation: the civic régime that stresses solidarity and public welfare. Here, adaptation



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

is understood to be beneficial not only for today’s generation but also for future ones. Several adaptation goals, expressed in the Green Growth strategy, relate to the years 2030 and 2050. In a project for the Seoul Metropolitan Area, the ME and city councils have said that they have put the focus on vulnerable groups that are most affected by heat waves and floods. Their definition of who is vulnerable results from the connection between exposure to the said environmental impacts and social-economic factors. The proposed strategies are “Cooling Centers” and improved weather forecasts. The purpose of this approach is to show solidarity with vulnerable people and to maintain public welfare by thinking about future generations. This is a narrative expressed by the South Korean government and governmental actors. The fifth dimension is the “effectiveness” of adaptation and is expressed through formulations like “political measures for effective adaptation” and “finding effective possibilities to respond to climate change” (from an interview with a KACCC actor). Effectiveness in the South Korean case is considered in two ways: first, the top-down governance structure between the central government and local actors, and second the management of relevant data. In detail, in order to exchange statistics and georeferential information more quickly between governmental actors, the so-called CCAIS was founded in 2010. With the help of better forecasting of weather events and more fluent exchange of data, adaptation is supposed to be efficiently accomplished. The dimensions of rationality above described are not very different from the justifications given for European adaptation strategies (Swart et al. 2009). There are similar patterns in justifying adaptation. A difference between them and the South Korean case is the attempt of the South Korean government to establish a reputation through sophisticated claims in the international community and through the pursuit of being a model of climate change adaptation. The empirical statements mentioned above have already been assigned to one of the régimes of Boltanski and Thévenot. For the régime of inspiration and the domestic régime, there were no examples in this case study. In the following table, selected empirical examples are not only attributed to one régime but there is a difference made between the oral arguments of the political discourse and actual implementation practices (projects, events, budgets).

Problematization of climate change

Table 7: The régimes of justification of adaptation Régime

Measures and Political discourse in South Korea criteria of worth

Inspiration (Augustine)

Singulartity, grace, creativity



Market (Smith)

Price, costs

Development of adaptation businesses, “green technologies”, focus on food prices, economic subsidies, green economy

4-river restoration project, creation of jobs

Industry (St. Simon)


Effective and proper adaptation, database for quick information transfer, emphasis on knowledge to prevent disasters (“technocracy”)

Policy evaluation and development of inventory models, CCAIS

Reputation (Hobbes)

Reputation, Emphasis on fame, renown becoming a model (KACCC: “We want to be the world’s leading authority”.)

International symposium, co-organization of the COP 18, Green Climate Fund

Civic (Rosseau)

Public welfare, solidarity

Reference to future generations, definition and support of vulnerable groups

Seoul Adaptation Project: Building of shelter houses for the “poor and old”

Domestic (Bousset)

Respect, reputation



Ecological/ Green (-)

Environmental friendliness, sustainability

Protection of the environment and wildlife, preservation of ecosystems, sustainability

4-river restoration project: renaturalization of riversides

Source: Thévenot et al. 2000: 241 and own data

Implementation practices



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

In the political adaptation-network, there are several justifications for adaptation which were expressed in the same time period. Here, the distinction which actor formulated which kind of justification is not needed, because there was no correlation between one justification régime and one particular actor group. The second question in this section is how the different régimes of justification relate to each other. On the one hand, it could be argued that the diversity of justifications in the empirical case study provides evidence for the prevalence of the adaptation concept. On the other hand, Boltanski and Thévenot argue that conflicts will emerge when different justification régimes are opposed to each other in one debate. The opposing worths of each régime are reasons for conflict. In the South Korean case study, conflicts about the adaptation concept were hardly expressed within the network of central governmental actors, but rather at the interfaces between them and regional governmental actors (in Gangwon Province) and civic actors (Green Korea United). Examples are contestation of the renaturalization of the river banks of the Han river as the “wrong solution to climate change” (Green Korea United 201023) and the critique expressed by two RDA and CRIK actors regarding requests from KACCC relating to their speed of work and their lack of responsibility. Both actors contested the notion of “effective adaptation”. At this point, it is of interest why the adaptation concept is not discussed among the members of KACCC and at meetings with foreign experts. Several times, discussions among actors were delayed or canceled because “everybody is tired and wants to go home” (Dr S.) or because “we don’t have time for discussion anymore” (Dr J.), just to mention a few excuses why discussions hardly happened. What could be the explanation why conflicts seemed not to exist in this context? Swyngedouw developed the argument (2007, 2010) that Western democracies have entered into a post-or depolitical stage which is characterized by a lack of negotiation of antagonistic positions between political actors. Such negotiations are the essence of democracy according to Mouffe (2007) and Rancière (2002). According to Swyngedouw, the development of postpolitics has primarily emerged in the politics of climate change, sustainability and protection of ecosystems. The reason why postpolitics has emerged in developing and applying these concepts is the interlinkage of science and politics. According to Swyngedouw, there, matters of science turn into matters of concern.

Problematization of climate change

The undisputed matters of fact, in this case studies of climate change impacts in South Korea, are translated into matters of concern without proper political intermediation (2010: 217). Swyngedouw calls this process the “science-politics short circuit” (2010: 220). The matters of concern are so strongly sustained by scientific facts that the potential disputes of climate change policy enter a terrain beyond dispute. Therefore, “questioning the politics of climate change in itself is already seen as an act of treachery” (Swyngedouw 2007: 21). On the contrary, Kythreotis thinks that “it is premature to talk of a post-political consensus in global climate change politics” (2012: 459) because the national states will likely use global climate negotiations to enact their own territorial interests similarly to political parties in one country. The interpretation of global climate politics is not the focus of this study, but the question remains whether a country’s climate change policy, like South Korea’s, is characterized by such a depolitical development. The description that Swyngedouw provides for global climate change politics can be applied in the Korean case, due to the observed implicitness and indispensability of adaptation as one of the responses to the scientific facts of climate change and due to the lack of negotiations about adaptation per se. The indispensability of adaptation was remarked on not only by actors at KACCC or ME but by all other actors, except the farmers. However, disagreement about the environmental agenda in the discourse of climate change politics is allowed, according to Swyngedouw (2007: 23), “but only with respect to the choices of technologies, the mix of organizational fixes, the details of the managerial adjustments, and the urgency of the timing and implementation”. The two case studies previously mentioned are cases in which disagreement regarding the appointed role of actors or the organization and implementation was expressed. CCAIS, the information system for relevant adaptation data, was founded in 2010 and KACCC serves as the head agency that manages this database. One KACCC actor explained the way data is collected: local governments are responsible for gathering relevant climate change data from their provinces or counties and handing them over to KACCC. One actor in the Gangwon provincial government complained that KACCC requested too many data for CCAIS, and he admitted that in some cases he is not even sure whether these data exist at all. Swyngedouw’s argument may explain why in the case of South Korea there is no conflict about the adaptation agenda as such, but only regar-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

ding the practical implementation of the agenda. The two types of behavior, first justification of adaptation to climate change in the political discourse, and second actual implementation practices, show a gap between presented rationalities and the enforcement of projects. In the political discourse, different justification régimes may co-exist, but when it comes to the implementation of projects, it seems that two rationalities were more strongly accentuated than the others. The market and reputation régimes are dominant in the South Korean case, because they are the basis of the strongest implementation efforts, and the associated justifications were the most frequently named. Therefore, one may speak of a compromise between the market régime and the régime of reputation, an economic rationality combined with an attempt to establish hegemony in East Asia and beyond. Both régimes and their worth complement one another to such a degree that successful “green” economic development and growth are thought to serve as a model for other countries, thereby increasing South Korea’s international reputation. Since Green Growth was the main policy of the South Korean government from 2008 until 2012, the implementation of “adaptation” projects under this label were pushed and partly realized. After the parliament election in December 2012, Green Growth projects were re-thought and in some cases stopped. The justifications relating to the green and civic régime are recessive because they are named in the discourse but not broadly pursued in the implementation steps. Therefore, a conflict rooted in the different worths of the régimes does not arise. The political discourse is multi-faced with diverse supporting arguments but looking at the implementation level, it becomes evident that particular justification logics are accentuated. Disagreement about certain organizational aspects in the adaptation-network results from the negotiation of interests and power between different political scales (Kythreotis 2012). The differences between the national and the regional scale will be highlighted in the chapters on the involvement of regional actors in the adaptation-network.

Problematization of climate change

The self-positioning of K ACCC A section on the self-positioning of KACCC in the political adaptationactor-network in South Korea has two purposes: First, in problematizing climate change and offering climate change adaptation as a solution to this threat, KACCC actors have actively positioned themselves as the central actor in the network. Second, reflection on this self-positioning opens up a perspective of other national or regional actors who have accepted, or have been appointed to, a particular responsibility in the implementation process of climate change adaptation. KACCC was chosen at the beginning of this study to be the anchor actor, and the empirical data show that this was the right assumption. In ANT terminology, the process of self-positioning is called “double movement”: on the one hand, the central actor defines his own position in the network, and on the other hand he defines the role of other actors. This self-definition happens on the basis of the claim to “possess specialized truths and rare powers” (Miller & Rose 1990: 2) which predestine a certain actor. KACCC speaks for many different actors: central government actors, regional government actors, and for climate change-affected actor groups, like the farmers in Gangwon Province. The act of self-positioning includes not only speaking for oneself but also speaking for others, which signifies an exertion of power. This exertion of power functions through “the construction of certain truths and their circulation via normalizing and disciplining techniques, methods, discourses and practices” (Rutherford 2007: 293). The long-term goal of KACCC (2016-2020) is to become “the global leading institute for climate change adaptation” (KACCC brochure). In the same brochure, one may read that KACCC was founded “in order to improve the national adaptation capacity and expedite the effective adoption of adaptation strategies”. In 2010, Dr Park Yongha, KACCC director at that time, said in an interview that KACCC was still an institute in its beginning stage but soon one would see the impact of its work. The following three examples show how KACCC defined the role of other actors and involves them. These are short sketches which will be explained in subsequent chapters. KACCC was not the first governmental institute that dealt with adaptation to climate change. Previous to the NCCAMP compiled by KACCC, regional actors had published regional and local adaptation strategies, which is an interesting fact, given that the implementation of adaptation was



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

considered by KACCC members as a national issues governed by central governmental actors. In February 2010, the Province of Gangwon published the “Climate Change Adaptation Masterplan for Gangwon” (강원도 기후변화 적응 기본계획). The adaptation plans of Incheon, Jeju Island, Busan, and Gangwon Province were available back then as well. However, the attitude of KACCC actors towards these publications and their content was negative. When asked why these plans are not considered in the adaptation plan made in 2010, a KACCC actor, Y., answered that these plans were not “real adaptation plans”. In an interview, Dr J. explained that local governments are supposed to develop their individual adaptation plans “but there is no ability (note: on their side) to make that kind of adaptation plan”. This is why, KACCC “has to assist local governments to develop adaptation plans” by preparing manuals and guidelines for local governments. In the second stage, local governments will make their own detailed plans, according to J. This role allocation has been contested in the case of Gangwon Province. In this context, “speaking for others” meant that KACCC produced a set of requirements for making adaptation plans. These requirements were, however, contested by CRIK actors. This is one way in which KACCC positioned itself with regard to actors from the regional scale: they argued that they knew the best way to plan climate change adaptation and dismissed regional expertise and experience. Besides KACCC’s intention of prescribing adaptation to climate change on the regional scale, there are other arrangements and instruments which give KACCC the ability to control and influence other central governmental actors. One example was the writing process of the “Comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation Measurement Plan” in 2010. More than 30 other governmental actors were supposed to contribute to sections in this plan which were under the surveillance of a KACCC researcher. The entire project was under the leadership of the KACCC director. For the agriculture section, the corresponding actor was a member of RDA who developed adaptation strategies for agriculture. In an interview, Dr K. admitted that he was under great time pressure from KACCC and that he had to develop strategies within a short time. The third example was a KACCC project that started in 2010 with the aim of building an inventory of adaptation policies and evaluations. The project was supposed to last from February 2010 until December 2012 with a funding of 300,000,000 KRW. Its purpose was to summarize and

Problematization of climate change

compile an inventory of adaptive policies out of the following plans which all contained adaptation projects: Table 8: The number of projects in adaptation strategy papers Title of plan

published in

Number of projects (subprojects)

Comprehensive Plan for Combating Climate Change 기후변화대응 종합 기본계획

September 2008

55 (242)

Comprehensive Climate Change Adaptation Plan 국가 기후변화 적응 종합계획

December 2008

183 (305)

National Plan for the Implementation of Adaptation to Climate Change 국가 기후변화 적응 종합계획 세 부시행계획

April 2009

464 (479)

Green Growth 5-year Plan 녹색성장 5개년 계획

July 2009

387 (1235)

National Plan for Climate Change Adaptation Measures 국가 기후변화 적응 대책


261 (624)

Source: Project proposal “Climate Change Adaptation Policy Assessment and Development of Combination Model-Analysis and Inventory Construction” 2010

The inventory was classified according to sector, sub-sector, the impact of climate change in this sector, scale (national, local, individual), type and name of policy (law, strategy, plan, program), “prediction of climate change”, formulation of scenarios, the measurements taken, the evaluation of its policy effect, and the political actor in charge. The rationale of building such an inventory was to collect and evaluate adaptation projects which were implemented by different governmental bodies through one actor, KACCC. The aim was to obliterate “policy weaknesses” of adaptation and to put an end to the “disobliging attitude between ministries”. The information were listed in an Excel table shows the compilation of the inventory made by one KACCC actor (S.). In a further step of the project,



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

a KACCC actor assessed how many sub-projects were “relevant” and “successfully implemented”. Without going into detail about preliminary results, the practice of policy evaluation and of suggesting “new policy directions”, puts KACCC in the spokesperson position of adaptation. The need for an inventory of existing adaptation projects, strategy and plans was explained by the coexistence of different general plans. However, the fact that KACCC actors worked on the categorization, assessment, and evaluation of adaptation projects shows their position in the adaptation network. The project shows the central position of KACCC in the political adaptation network and it underlines that KACCC as an actor can be understood as the political spokesperson of adaptation to climate change in South Korea. An interesting aspect of this inventory project is that in 2010 there were very few projects that had already been implemented. Dr J. even said in an interview that there were hardly any adaptation projects on the way to implementation. For the agricultural sector, further inquiries regarding adaptation projects confirmed the fact that very little had been implemented yet, and in agriculture even less than in other sectors. This intermediate result led to a change of perspective on the local scale. To sum up, the problematization of climate change by governmental actors in the adaptation network took place through the extrapolation of environmental statistics and their correlation with social data (for example death rates). This was how climate change is produced as a manifest risk that political actors had to deal with, for example through adaptation strategies. The specifics of how political actors problematize climate change became evident with reference to another actor group which had a different view of environmental changes: farmers in the rural areas of the county of Inje in Gangwon. Most of these farmers have heard about climate change and problematize it according to their daily experiences (weather, reaction of crops towards the changes), although there were some farmers for whom climate change was a distant phenomena which occurred in other regions of the world. These experiences and the interpretation of the farmers were different from the clean analytical calculations and models made in the offices of KACCC and KMA. Through their daily experiences and their immediate reliance on ecosystem services, the threatening potential of climate change was felt directly by the farmers. In interviews, they reported climatic changes and the consequences for their crops and farming practices.

Problematization of climate change

Beck writes that the threatening potential that resides in the determinants of the class situation is evident to everyone affected and that no special cognitive means are required for this, no measuring procedures, no statistical survey, no reflections on validity, and no consideration of tolerance thresholds (1992: 53). This thought means that the problematization of climate change by farmers was based on a rationality different from that of KACCC: immediate experience in the case of the farmer as against calculated risk assessment by KMA and KACCC. The problematization of climate change was an example of how South Korean political actors dealt with a new situation, a global challenge that required a local response. The quotation “Korea is the only country in the world to have transformed itself from an aid recipient into a donor country within the span of a single generation” (Presidential Committee on Green Growth 2010: 7) showed the self-image of the South Korean political leadership as a strong country that has undergone enormous changes. Later, one could read that “South Korea is now demonstrating the same determination in tackling the global problems of climate change and energy depletion” (ibid., p. 27). This showed a confidence in the government’s ability to deal with climate change successfully based on previous economic and political achievements. As shown in the chapter on environmental policy in South Korea, it was evident that there has been a quick adjustment to climate change in terms of definition and analysis of the issue (such as the “Korean Climate Change Assessment Report”, 2010), and the development of plans and institutional changes, like the founding of KACCC or special divisions in the ME, all within two years (2008-2010). The emphasis on the “effectivity” of adaptation stressed the belief of the political leadership that it was tackling climate change with the right (adaptation) strategies. The lack of implementation of adaptation strategies, however, questioned the selfimage of political actors in this field, in particular KACCC. Cresswell reminds the reader of his article that any study of mobility runs the risk of suggesting that the (allegedly) immobile – notions such as boundaries and borders, place, territory, and landscape – is of the past and no longer relevant to the dynamic world of the 21st century (2010: 18). Since this study was about the mobility of the adaptation agenda, questions of interest were wether the geopolitical situation of South Korea plays a role in the translation process and which role the different regions in South Korea play.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The problematization of climate change was a condition for the involvement and enrolement of governmental actors by KACCC and these actors themselves problematized climate change according to their different foci (scale, sector). In RDA, climate change was problematized in particular with regard to rural farming areas, and the actors in CRIK of Chuncheon speak most notably about climate change in Gangwon Province. Thus, climate change was problematized according to the directions of the governmental agency. The following chapter moves beyond the problematization of climate change by KACCC and KMA and deals with the question of how adaptation in the agricultural sector was translated through governmental actors.

The involvement of central governmental actors

After showing that the problematization of climate change provided strong justifications for the development of environmental policies, the next step was to examine the involvement of different governmental actors, in particular in agriculture. The activities during the summer months of 2010 were occasions during which the cooperation between central governmental actors could be observed and analyzed. According to the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (20112015), ten ministries and 13 central government agencies were enrolled in the implementation of adaptation measures according to their field of expertise. The following ministries (10 out of 15) and agencies were supposed to develop detailed adaptation plans in their respective sectors: • Health: Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Environment • Disaster Management: Ministry of Public Administration and Security, Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs, National Emergency Management Agency, Ministry of Environment • Agriculture: Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, RDA • Forest: Korea Forest Service • Marine & Fisheries: Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries • Water Management: Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Environment • Ecosystem: Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

• • •

Climate Change Monitoring: Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, KMA Industry & Energy: Ministry of Knowledge Economy, Ministry of Environment Education & International Cooperation: relevant ministries

The intention of this assignment was that “each ministry will establish and implement detailed enforcement plans and annual performance plans, perform self-assessment, then submit the results and performance plans for the following year to Ministry of Environment which supervises the overall implementation of the policy; and Minister of Environment will establish an inventory based on the results it receives, and publish a statement on national climate change adaptation” (Ecorea 2008: 117). However, these assignments were not realized because in 2010, a new initiative to develop adaptation measures was launched by ME. This initiative focusing on sectoral adaptation measures was first mentioned during a meeting in May 2010 by Dr L. from the Korean Forest Research Institute who participated in the writing of the “forest” measures chapter of the “National Climate Change Adaptation Master Plan” (NCCAMP), the purpose of which was to specify measures for each sector. In May 2010, this plan was in preparation and different central actors were working on the formulation of it. The first draft was to be finished by the end of that year. The background for this project was Article 38 in the “Enforcement decree of the framework act on Low Carbon, Green Growth” (2010) which said that the ME shall establish and implement measures for adaptation to climate change based on consultation with the heads of the central administrative agencies concerned. One of the matters mentioned was “measures to adapt to climate change by sector and region” (4). The following figure shows the list of actors involved in the writing and reviewing process for each sector in the NCCAMP:

Involvement of central governmental actors

Table 9: Contributing actors according to sector Sector



KACCC National Institute for Biological Resources National Institute for Environmental Research (NIER) Korea University Forest Department of Environmental Protection Seoul National University Rural Development Administration (RDA) National Fisheries Research and Development Institute Pukyong National University Korea Maritime Institute


KACCC KFRI National Institute for Biological Resources Seoul National University Forest Department of Environmental Protection


KACCC RDA/National Academy of Agricultural Sciences Kyung Hee University Hankyong National University KREI


KACCC Dongguk University Korea Maritime Institute National Fisheries Research and Development Institute Seoul National University Pukyong National University

Water management KACCC Future Resources Institute NIER Sejong University Myongji University Korea Institute of Construction Technology Korea University Korea Water Resources (K-Water) Cooperation



Climate change adaptation in South Korea


KACCC Center for Disease Control and Prevention Shinheung University Hanyang University Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs Ajou University Seoul National University

Disaster control

KACCC National Emergency Management Agency Seoul Development Institute Seokyeong University Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources Kyeongpook National University


KACCC Konkuk University Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chung-Ang University Ajou University

Social infrastructure

KACCC Korea Research Institute for Human Settlement Pusan National University Korea Institute of Construction Technology The Korea Transport Institute Kwandong University National Institute of Meteorological Research

Climate change monitoring

KACCC National Institute of Meteorological Research Seoul National University NIER Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute Yonsei University Hanyang University KMA

Source: Ministry of Environment 2010

Involvement of central governmental actors

The writing process was under the surveillance and responsibility of Dr J. (KACCC) and Dr S. (at NIER which is attached to the ME). The plan was divided into the same sectors (ecology, forest, agriculture, marine, nature conservation, health, disaster, industry and energy, social infrastructure, and climate change monitoring and modeling) as the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. The single chapters were supervised by one KACCC researcher, written by one actor of the institutions listed and the other agencies reviewed them. The basic problem in writing this plan, as a KACCC actor remarked, was the short period of time that KACCC actors had. Another actor at KACCC argued that “we have no time to gather new information”. The following schedule showed that South Korean actors had to finalize this plan within four months. First, the Low Carbon, Green Growth Law was enforced (April 4th). On May 17th, the strategy for drafting the NCCAMP was established. After two weeks, on June 4th, the working-level meeting of ministries was held, followed by expert meetings for each sector from June 8-16th. A climate change adaptation expert symposium and public hearing was organized for July 7th. After that, consultation sessions with stakeholders took place from July 21st to August 20th. On September 9th, the preliminary plan was reported to the cabinet and confirmed. This timeline, presented by Suk-Tae Hwang from the Ministry of Environment during a meeting, shows the remarkable speed of the writing and compiling process. The development of adaptation measures in the agricultural sector will from now on be the focus of this study, due to its affiliation with the TERRECO project focus on the Haean villages and the Soyang watershed. The general goal for adaptation in agriculture mentioned in the previous adaptation plan (2011-2015) was “the improvement of agricultural productivity by management of agricultural and livestock products in an adaptive manner”. In order to examine the agricultural actor-network, this study focused in particular on the Rural Development Administration, which was named as the most important partner by KACCC actors in terms of agriculture. Besides RDA, there are other governmental actors that have an influence on agricultural questions in South Korea: the Korean Rural Economic Institute (KREI) and the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MIFAFF). KREI was a government-funded research institute. Its publications “Strategies to comply with the Kyoto Protocol in Korean



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

agricultural sector” (2008) and “Impacts of climate change on Korean agriculture and its counterstrategies” (2010) showed the acknowledgement of climate change as a driving factor in agriculture. There, Kim et al. (2010: vii) stated that “up to now, the main focus of countermeasures to climate change in agricultural sector was given to the measures to mitigate greenhouse gas, but in consideration of the inevitability of global warming, and especially the weather-dependent characteristics of agriculture, more interest and policy-based support will have to be given to the measures for adaptation to climate change”. This study examined the attitude of farmers towards climate change and adaptation in different regions in South Korea. Another actor that was expected to be involved in the formulation of adaptation measures in agriculture was the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. C., an officer in the Agricultural Policy Division of the MIFAFF, was asked about the adaptation policy initiated by the MIFAFF in May 2010, and he recommended to contact the Future Strategy Division under the leadership of L. In an interview, L. made clear that the MIFAFF does not consider the adaptation to climate change concept as meaningful for the purposes of this institution. They were rather occupied with the national Green Growth strategy, which contained the notion of climate change adaptation, yet L. did not see any relevance of this concept for the current concerns of MIFAFF. In the following years, 2011 and 2012, the adaptation agenda did not show up in the annual work plans of the MIFAFF2, in which major policy trends were presented. If adaptation was likely to become a relevant idea for MIFAFF, it would have shown up there. Instead of adaptation to climate change, the key words in the work plans were “revitalization of local economy”, “income improvement”, “increase of competitiveness”. Other aspects mentioned were organic farming, the legal regulations regarding toxic pesticides and antibiotics in livestock, the importance of export-orientation and stabilization of the food supply. The word climate change adaptation (기후변화 적응) did not appear. The word climate change (기후변화) is only found once regarding the loss of productivity that the fisheries might experience. The argument that MIFAFF 2 | Work plans from 2010-2012 available under list.jsp?group_id=4&menu_id=1116&link_menuid=&division=H&board_ kin d =&b o ar d _ s k in _ i d =&p ar e n t _ c o d e =1113&link _ ur l =&d e p t h =3&t ab _ yn=Y&code=tab November 14th, 2012.

Involvement of central governmental actors

was not concerned with the adaptation concept at that time is also supported by the absence of MIFAFF actors at symposiums on climate change adaptation and other meetings. It is an interesting observation that the MIFAFF was not concerned with the adaptation agenda and that this actor had put its priorities elsewhere.

Central actors in agriculture: Rural Development Administration

The Rural Development Administration (RDA) is the central government agency for agricultural research and services seated in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, which is located 60 km South of Seoul. The offices of RDA include laboratories and trial agricultural fields. The purpose of RDA is to facilitate “highly competitive agriculture and efficient rural development” (Park Hyun-Chool, director of RDA 3). The basic ideas are to assist South Korean farmers to produce agricultural commodities with better quality, to advance low-input, labor-saving and environment-friendly cropping technologies, to promote modern and automated production facilities, and to nurture future farmers according to Park Hyun-Chool (ibid.). The agricultural services of RDA include online information on pests, organic agriculture, income statistics, a weekly farming newsletter, agricultural work schedules, breeding information, agricultural technology videos, and crop information. Agricultural work schedules provided for each species inform farmers, first, about the agricultural work for each month (like sowing, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting), and, second, about the anticipated meteorological events (like temperature curves, droughts, cold waves). Agricultural technology videos (available at, which have up to 10,000 views, are educational demonstrations of how to handle certain species. The database of crops provides information about suitable cultivation techniques, including weed and pest control (how much of which herbicides and fertilizers are needed), for vegetables, fruits, flowers, livestock, forage plants, and insects. The weekly farming newsletter lists the weather forecast for the week, pest occurrence, current farming activities, and what the farmers should bear in mind (harvest, rice drying, regional seeding times, or vaccination programs, for instance against foot3 |, October 8th, 2012.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

and-mouth disease). Besides the information available online, there is the Rural Human Resource Development Center attached to RDA, as well as local Agricultural Technology Centers (ATC) with the purpose of educating farmers to apply new technologies and cultivation methods. The actor responsible for the chapter on “agriculture” in the NCCAMP is Dr K., a senior researcher in the Division of Climate Change and Agro-Ecology. He has worked for RDA for more than 24 years and by education he is a plant physiologist. During several meetings in June 2010, he spoke about his role in the NCCAMP formulation process, and how he understood adaptation in the agricultural sector. “About two years ago adaptation became an important topic in RDA, so we founded a new division”; the division that he supervises. Asked about his definition of adaptation, he said that he did not have one of his own, but used the general definition of adaptation from the IPCC. His understanding of adaptation in agriculture became clear from the chapter he wrote for the NCCAMP. First, K. thought that climate change was not only negative, but also “has a positive impact in some cases, especially for Jeju Island which is very warm, the warmest area in South Korea”. He further explained that other RDA actors have developed new crop types, in particular tropical fruits like mango or artichoke, and that these were now able to grow in the Southern regions of Korea. Second, he argued that “farmers respond quickly to climate change as you can see in the case of Yanggu. Originally, apple trees did not grow in the Haean area but recently, farmers have raised apple trees, grapes ... that is the response of farmers to climate change”. However, he admitted that “the implementation of new technologies to adapt to climate change has scarcely been accomplished to date, but will be in the future especially regarding technology”. Some of these technologies will be directly implemented by RDA, through the training of local ATC officers, and the head ministry: “MIFAFF will support the farmers financially and encourage them to adopt new technologies”. The biggest problem, according to K., was the age structure in the rural areas. Farmers were often too old to apply new technologies, and young people did not like to live in rural areas. The reason why Dr K. was appointed to write the agriculture chapter of the NCCAMP was that “other RDA members recommended him as the writer”. So, they requested him to participate. His task was to formulate adaptation measures for the agricultural sector. In one interview, Dr K. explained the content of his chapter, in which all strategies listed had

Involvement of central governmental actors

already been mentioned in former RDA development plans, so these were not new strategies at all. Some of the points he mentioned stress the development of agriculture towards a climate-friendly type, while others focus on the reduction of damage due to environmental impacts. The first point of the chapter was the need to assess the impacts of climate change and to make a food production forecast, in order to be able to provide a model of crop production and quality depending on climate change, including an impact assessment index for agricultural production resources and productiveness. K. said that this is important because the food self-sufficiency of South Korea was very low (only at 26%), and food security might become a “big problem” in the future. The second point was the development of suitable crops and new varieties that could grow well under the expected climatic changes. These crops were hightemperature-resistant, stress-tolerant, and resistant to diseases and pests. Moreover, tropical and subtropical fruits would be introduced by RDA and assessed as to whether their cultivation would be profitable for farmers. Examples mentioned were apples and grapes in Gangwon Province, and mangos on Jeju Island. The general goal of this approach was to contribute to the increase of rural income. The third point was to develop suitable cultivation techniques for climate change adaptation by first analyzing the changing growing patterns (cultivation periods, spatial distribution of suitable crops) and then explaining new cultivation methods to the farmers. The fourth point applied to breeding management in the case of higher temperatures. The goal here was to develop optimal breeding conditions, to improve the breeding environment, and to establish livestock shed plans for higher temperature periods. Point five was the development of technologies relating to a demand and supply system for forage crops that includes an impact assessment of forage productiveness, particular cultivation techniques, and new forage varieties. The sixth point was the effective use of agricultural irrigation water. K. stressed the issue of water in the interview, saying that water is an important factor “to make farming sustainable”. Since rice paddy cultivation required the extensive use of water, water saving techniques would be important. This point focused on the effective use of agricultural irrigation in terms of technical management, and on the conservation of farm land with regard to soil erosion. K. argued that “it is important to conserve the land, in respect of soil quality” since agricultural land would decrease



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

more and more. The seventh point was the need for an assessment of vulnerability to climate change in the agricultural sector, which included a vulnerability assessment model and a vulnerability map showing “abnormal” meteorological phenomena, and an assessment of the vulnerability of local agricultural production to climate change. “Vulnerability” here was understood by K. as the state of a region in terms of “abnormal meteorological phenomena” and the “distribution of diseases and pests”. The eighth point was the development of technology to predict meteorological events that might have negative effects on agriculture. In this context, “abnormal” meteorological phenomena and their consequences on the production of crops needed to be analyzed and estimated. A remote monitoring system was planned to prevent potential negative effects. The ninth point was the establishment of a disease and insect control system. The development of crop diseases and pests was uncertain in the light of climate change. The goal of this point was to built a monitoring system (disease and pest database) for these diseases and pests, to investigate the outbreak of them, and to provide solutions for farmers. As example, K. mentioned that RDA could help farmers that had problems with an insect that damaged orchards substantially. In the RDA lab, a chemical method was developed and “the farmers were very happy” when this solution worked for them. The tenth point was the development of preventive measures of livestock diseases due to climate change. Two important insights from the interview with Dr K. and the adaptation measures he described were, first, that these measures already existed. K. said that he subsumed the existing agricultural development strategies in his chapter on agriculture in the NCCAMP. These measures were not specifically developed in the frame of adaptation. The reason was time pressure and the need to be able to present early results. A translation of the adaptation agenda into concrete measures therefore did not happen, but existing strategies were given a new label. Second, the measures showed a strong focus on governmental actors in the development of suitable adaptation measures, and less focus on farmers’ possibilities and how governmental interventions might support them. The rationale of adaptation in agriculture that became evident through these measures was the governmental actor as expert and executive of adaptation strategies. The perspective of farmers was missing completely.

Involvement of central governmental actors

Figure 11: Adaptation strategies for agriculture

Source: RDA 2010

At this point, an observation was already on the horizon concerning the proportion of addressees of adaptation policies, such as farmers, and actors in the international climate change community. The orientation of central actors, like KACCC and RDA, was already directed towards cooperation with global actors, with the goal of exerting influence on an international scale. In the talks with K., he mentioned RDA’s initiative to cooperate in the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA). He said that RDA would join the GRA soon, because the “GRA is going to deal with global warming and climate change adaptation issues in the agricultural sector” and that this would be an important issue for RDA as well. The following description on the webpage of RDA underlines this orientation: “RDA has been striving for the technological cooperation with international organizations and resource rich countries. Joint research and international symposia, joined by world-renown scholars, have been conducive to the development of cuttingedged technologies. The Administration has sent its researchers to international institutes for mutual collaboration and also trained foreign experts. It also joined in the international treaties such as Convention on Climate Change and Biodiversity Convention to support the “Low Carbon, Green Growth” initiative in the agricultural sector. The foreign experts and scientists who were



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

trained at the RDA have organized the RDA Alumni Association (RAA), elevating the international image and visibility of the RDA.” Source: RDA webpage (, July 9th, 2013)

The briefly sketched tendency of RDA towards international cooperation will be developed further with regard to climate change adaptation in the chapter “Continued way of traveling”. The reference to GRA brought forward another interesting aspect. The context in which K. mentioned GRA was climate change adaptation. However, on the webpage of GRA which was founded in December 2009, the self-understanding of GRA with respect to research cooperation is described: “The Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases brings countries together to find ways to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions. (...) Members of the Alliance aim to deepen and broaden mitigation research efforts across the agricultural sub-sectors of paddy rice, cropping and livestock, and the cross-cutting themes of soil carbon and nitrogen cycling and inventories and measurement issues”. Source: GRA webpage (

This definition shows that GRA was mainly about mitigation and not climate change adaptation. One may assume that RDA researcher works with the adaptation agenda as a label, but it seems that this concept has not changed the content of the strategies that are being developed for agriculture under global change. What K. presented as adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector were basically the strategies of RDA before the adaptation concept became relevant, for instance crop diversification and appropriate cultivation methods. K. and his colleagues are able to work with the adaptation concept because it matched the ongoing development strategies. In this sense, one may understand the adaptation agenda as a new overprint emphasizing that the same development strategies have been covered with a new label. Given that RDA actors developed strategies for agriculture, the next question was how these new strategies are communicated to farmers, what is the connection? How do RDA researcher develop new technologies and information? The following example shows an ongoing cooperation

Involvement of central governmental actors

project in 2010 between RDA and a farmer in Gangwon Province. Asked specifically about an adaptation cooperation project, Dr K. replied there were not any right then and he recommended contacting Dr J. from the National Academy of Agricultural Science (attached to RDA). J.’s project focused on organic farming and the related experimentation with new organic-agricultural technologies in a village in Gangwon Province. The reason for considering this project, although it was not an official adaptation project, was, first, that it involved the crossing of scales by RDA, and, second, that despite the lack of the official label “adaptation”, the adaptation idea could still play a role for either the RDA researcher, Dr J., or the farmer, Mr. K.

New agricultural technologies

The experimental farm was located in Yongho village in the county of Hwacheon, West of Yanggu and Inje County. The reason for visiting this village was that there were no other cooperations between RDA research and farmers in Gangwon Province at that time. RDA was represented by Dr J. who worked for the National Academy of Agricultural Science in the Division of Organic Agriculture. His job was to develop new practices of environment-friendly agriculture together with a farmer (K.) in Yongho. Another experimental farm, Dr J. advised, was located in the South East of South Korea, about four hours driving distance from Seoul. When he came to Yongho village for the first time, which was around five years ago, he felt “that this is the poorest spot in Korea” but “now the farmers can make a good living and the village is popular for organic farming”. Signs of the prosperity of the village were the modern storage units and a vacation facility that tourists could rent. In the last five years, the village has changed a lot due to environmentfriendly agriculture. The following figure shows the positive trend of environment-friendly agriculture in South Korea in the past ten years. The statistics show that the share of environment-friendly farming (in these three categories) in South Korea has increased substantially between 2000 and 2009. The biggest share, with 10.5% of the total agricultural production, is the “low-pest” certificate which is given when synthetic herbicides are



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

not used at all, and the use of chemical fertilizers is below half of the standard amount. Table 10: Environmental friendly agriculture in 2000 and 2009 Category



“Organic” Farm households Area (in hectare) Shipment (in tons)

353 296 6,538

9,403 13,343 108,810

“Pest-Free” Farm households Area (in hectare) Shipment (in tons)

1,060 876 15,697

63,653 71,039 879,930

“Low Pest” Farm households Area (in hectare) Shipment (in tons)

1,035 867 13,174

125,835 117,306 1,369,034

Source: KREI 2010: 221

K.’s experimental farm is a typical example of the way governmental actors influence the outcome of an economic activity when the conditions for such activity have changed. It became clear in discussions with J. and K. that there are many factors influencing farming, such as changing consumer patterns, trends and prices on markets, necessary investments, demographic factors, political regulations, and knowledge of how to handle changes. The question now for the topic of this thesis is how such activity can be linked to the adaptation-actor-network and what insights this example may provide for the role of the adaptation agenda in agriculture. The farm experiments started five years ago and cooperation was very good, because “K. would do” what he, J., was telling him to do and in general, “they had a good understanding”. Their first encounter was facilitated by an officer in ATC in Hwacheon whom both of them knew. Farmer K. is not the only “environmental friendly” farmer, he is one of 14 out of a total of 35 farmers in the village. J. initially wanted to persuade all farmers in the village to apply environment-friendly techniques, and many farmers had doubts about it.

Involvement of central governmental actors

Their arguments, which were reported by K., were “hard work” or that they would need to invest too much. When asked what the major problem of agriculture was here, J. replied “age” and “low education” , which has resulted in the rejection of new technologies. J. said that he attempted to work with several farmers here but it turned out to be difficult because “they always did the same as they had been doing for the last 20 years and they did not understand him”. However, the situation will change, according to J.’s assessment, within the next 20-30 years, when “the older generation of farmers will have passed away”. His expectations were that younger farmers will be more open in respect of new technologies and larger farm areas. Figure 12: Agricultural products in the pension’s hall

Source: own data

One afternoon, K. showed us round, explaining his view of the deal with RDA and his situation as a farmer. He was born in Hwacheon County and he rented the farm area from a wealthy man in Seoul. The farming season in Hwacheon lasts about six months, from the end of April, or beginning of May, until October. Compared to the Southern part of South Korea, the growing period is much shorter, which meant that K. produced less crops than a farmer with a comparable area in the South. The main crops K. grew were cabbage and pepper. He explained more about his farming practice: The growing period of cabbage was about two months or a bit less. He planned to harvest them around July



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

10th. One head of organic cabbage weighed between two and three kilograms, usually only two. For one kilogram, he received 600 KRW which was about half a dollar. After the cabbage harvest, K. intended to plant broccoli which was his first try in 2010. The year before, he cultivated soy beans after the cabbage harvest, but this year the demand for broccoli from the buyers was high. The cabbage was sold to a company that produced organic kimchi, which according to J. was “quite innovative and new in Korea”. The second main crop was organic pepper which usually grows for six months. The first harvest of peppers was late July, and after that time every two weeks newly ripe peppers were harvested. K. said that it was one of the best vegetables crops with regard to income. Over two years, Dr J. and K. have tested about 47 different cultivars of pepper, which were developed in RDA labs in Suwon, and evaluated their pest resistance and other characteristics (like biomass, shape of pepper fruit). After the tests, they chose three cultivars for K.’s fields. However, there was one pest to which the new cultivars were not immune and which was spread by rain splash. In order not to use any pesticides, newly developed roofs or “umbrellas” were invented and straw was laid out between the rows, with 1.8 meters distance between them, to lower the moisture, an important factor in disease control. Figure 13: “Umbrella” construction

Source: own data

Involvement of central governmental actors

The umbrellas were subsidized with 60% by the County. In the first two months of growth the nutrients in the soil were sufficient, and after that liquid fertilizer was mixed into the irrigation water. Fertilizer for environment-friendly farming was subsidized up to 70% by the County. K. explained that the local government had limited funds, so that sometimes there was financial support, and sometimes not. The space between two pepper plants usually is 30 cm in conventional and 40-50 cm in environment-friendly farming. This meant that the farmer’s organic yield was only 60% of the conventional yield for the same area. As a result, despite the higher price of environment-friendly farming products, keeping the same area did not necessarily mean that the income of the farmer has increased. After this short introduction to organic cultivation methods, there was a discussion about climate change and adaptation. K. has observed a wider range of weather conditions in recent years. This year, the last frost was on June 3rd, while it is usually around May 10th. The late frost damaged crops, some fruit trees died, and K.’s peppers had an abnormal shape. The year before, in the winter of 2009/2010, there was “too much” snow. Asked if such climatic changes altered farming practices, J. said only if the changes occurred more often on a regular basis. Also, K. did not change any of his farming practices due to the described climatic changes, for example changing crops, or earlier/later sowing dates. What he changed was due to other reasons. In the discussion with K. and J., it became clear that adaptation to climate change did not play an important role for them. J. argued that climate change adaptation was an important concept, but too narrow. The reason was that it focused on climate change as the only driving factor in the decision context of farmers. The case in Yongho made clear that the decision of a farmer as to what to grow and how to handle his/her business depended on a set of factors, most important being economic aspects such as investments, subsidies, and market prices. A more detailed reflection of these influences will be one of the topics of the chapter “Distant mobilization of farmers” . This case in Yongho was fruitful for this study of the adaptation-network in several ways: First, it showed how governmental and farming actors cooperated and experimented with new practices in order to increase the income of farmers. Second, it indicated that while climatic changes are perceived, they have in this case not resulted in practice alterations. Third, the adaptation agenda was known by the actors involved but did not find any application in this case.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

At the end of this thesis, the question will be raised which development possibilities exist for a region like Gangwon in the light of the decreasing significance of agriculture. One of the possible development paths is environment-friendly farming. These farmers produce a lower yield related to the same area but the market price is higher and the trend for organic agricultural products is positive. However, to switch from conventional to environment-friendly farming is not easy: instead of chemical pests and disease control, the farmer has to find new ways of how to handle these problems. In the case of Hwacheon, RDA has developed an organic spray made of oil, emulsifier, water, and micro pesticides which is allowed under the regulations of “organic farming”. This mixture is usually applied at an early stage of growing, according to farmer K. Another challenge is the development of new distribution systems. RDA is an actor that operates at different scales, for example Dr J. himself worked in his office on new adaptation strategies for the farming sector, offered agricultural training in different regions, and supervised experimental farms, like the one in Hwacheon with farmer K. The latter example has shown that the implementation of new cultivation methods and the introduction of new species took place, but not under the label of “adaptation”. When K. and J. explained their cooperation, they did not mention “adaptation” as the framing concept of their activities. The rationale behind their activities was the improvement and stabilization of income through a focus on organic farming and adjustment to specific problems arising from this approach, notably pest control. Interestingly, the strategies practiced by K. were examples of what adaptation strategies developed by Dr K. could look like. When recalling the third adaptation strategy, “develop suitable cultivation techniques for climate change adaptation by first analyzing the changing growing patterns (cultivation periods, spatial distribution of suitable crops) and then to distribute new cultivation methods to the farmers”, one could argue that this is exactly what J. and K. did in Yongho, however, not under the label of “adaptation”. The drivers of decision making visible in this case did not match the agricultural strategies of the NCCAMP that isolated climate change as the major driver in agriculture. When talking to Dr K. in RDA headquarters in Suwon, the issue of adaptation to climate change was a central topic, yet on the scale of actual farming, as in the case presented here, the adaptation agenda did not

Involvement of central governmental actors

seem to be meaningful. The question now was, were there other ways in which this agenda became relevant to regional and local actors? If so, what were the ways of traveling, and how was the idea of adaptation interpreted on these scales? The insights from KACCC and RDA have shown that the adaptation agenda has developed into a powerful political agenda in central governmental institutions. In the case of RDA, the implementation of (new) agricultural practices which were labeled as “adaptation” did not happen. Another way of examining the status of the adaptation agenda on a regional scale was to relate to the actors involved in this matter. At one meeting between actors from KACCC and CRIK in Gwacheon near ME, there was an exchange about adaptation to climate change in Gangwon Province. Therefore, the next step was to get in touch with experts from CRIK in Chuncheon. At the time of planning the adaptation agenda at the regional and local scales, there were parallel paths of which one was CRIK. Another path, with respect to agriculture in Inje County, was the Agricultural Technology Center (ATC), a support center for farmers, with 17 employees. In interviews with L., leader of the agricultural policy division, and K., an employee from the same unit, their perspectives on farming, climate change, and adaptation was highlighted. The interview with Mr. L. from the ATC office in Yanggu County, Department for Energy and Climate Change, showed similarities and differences between the two counties.


Involvement of regional governmental actors Actors in Gang won: Climate Change Research Institute

Anyhow, the local government will follow what the central government decides. Dr C. (CRIK)

The question how central governmental activities regarding climate change adaptation were related to regional actors and their adaptation efforts is the central matter of this chapter. Dr J. of KACCC explained that the regional governments are responsible for their individual adaptation plans but he insisted that “we still need to help them” and “that their adaptation plans have to be in accordance with the priorities given by the KACCC”. The first encounter between the two central and regional actors in respect of climate change adaptation in Gangwon Province, KACCC and CRIK, was a presentation of Gangwon adaptation plans in Gwacheon City, the location of ME and other ministries, in May 2010. This meeting was organized by KACCC, under the supervision of the ME. Therefore, the location of this meeting was only a few minutes away from the ministerial offices but two hours from the KACCC office, and Dr C. and his two colleagues from Chuncheon, capital city of Gangwon, had the longest journey. About twelve people, among them a few experts, university professors from Chungang University, Hangyeong Universty, and Seokyeong University, participated in the one-and-a-half hour meeting. After a short introduction from the director of KACCC, Dr P., sitting right across from the projection screen, Dr C. gave a 50 minute presentation about


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

the individual climate change adaptation strategies in Gangwon Province based on the Gangwon Adaptation Basic Plan (강원도 기후변화 적응 기 본계획) published in February 2010. This plan was developed by a regional government affiliated institute, the Research Institute for Gangwon (RIG) but the recently founded CRIK carried out adaptation research and planning. In his presentation, C. gave a brief overview of the regional impacts of climate change, such as prospective shifts in temperature, precipitation, wind force, humidity, hours of sunshine, snowfall, and seasonal changes. Afterwards, he showed a SWOT analysis of adaptation to climate change in Gangwon Province. For every sector (Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Water management, Society, Tourism, Industry, Ecology, Disaster, and Health) and every county, he presented vulnerability graphs and the impact of climate change. To underline the importance of adaptation in Gangwon, he presented a table published by KEI (2008) and the Jeonbuk Development Institute (2009) that indicated a medium “sensitivity” to climate change impacts in Gangwon Province, which ranked as 10th among the 16 South Korean provinces, and had the second highest “exposure” to climate change in South Korea, behind Jeju Island. Under the heading “Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan”, he presented a SWOT table for each sector. For agriculture, he presented the following table. After the presentation, there were questions for clarification from the professors, but KACCC staff refrained from asking questions. The presentation was mostly about the status quo of climate change impacts and the assessment of which sectors were the most vulnerable in Gangwon Province. The population of Gangwon, or any social group, was not mentioned at all in relation to climate change and adaptation. When asked after this meeting about the significance of the presentation, several KACCC actors displayed different attitudes: one had a negative opinion of the plans presented, arguing that “these are no real adaptation plans”, and another one, who had taken pictures during the meeting, was satisfied with the first official encounter between KACCC and a regional institute. Interestingly, there was hardly any discussion about the presentation. However, the encounter was a snapshot of the hierarchy and gave an impression of the connection between central and regional adaptation actors.

Involvement of regional actors

Table 11: Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan: Agriculture SWOT Analysis for Gangwon Province Strengths


Clean region with a low pollution level Capacity for environment-friendly agriculture Optimal site for highland agriculture Diverse agricultural locations

Unsuitable for mechanic agriculture Uncompetitive, traditional farm products Lack of high-income, technologyintensive agriculture Aging society and migration to the cities Lack of human resources



Cultivation of early maturing crops Longer harvest periods Fruit and vegetable cultivation possible

New diseases and insects Low competitiveness of agricultural products

Source: CRIK “Climate Change adaptation of municipalities – 1st expert forum”, 2010: 34

An impression of the hierarchy among the participants was given by the seating arrangements: the tables were put in a U-shape so that the director of KACCC had the best view of the screen on which the PowerPoint slides were shown. He also started the meeting by introducing the participants. To his left, the professors sat vis-à-vis Dr C. and his two colleagues from CRIK. Team leaders and experienced researcher from KACCC and KEI but not from the ME took a seat at the table, and the second row of chairs was for other staff members. Moreover, the absence of ME officials allowed a conclusion to be drawn about KACCC being the responsible actor on the level of national governmental institutions. An interview with Dr C. was conducted later in Chuncheon, in his office where he gave an account of his perspective. In 2009, the Climate Change Research Institute of Korea (CRIK) was founded in Chuncheon, as a provincial government affiliated institute. It shared the same building with the Rural Institute of Gangwon (RIG) and had around 15 employees (March 2011). The Master Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change that Dr C. presented in Gwacheon City was actually



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

the work of researchers in the RIG in 2009, and after the foundation of CRIK, this institute continued to work on climate change issues. When climate change became an important topic for the regional government in Chuncheon, in particular for the governor, the research on climate change was outsourced and a new research center, CRIK, was established which closely cooperated with the regional government. For South Korea, such a regional climate change research institute was unique. The reason for its foundation was the strong interest in environmental questions of the former governor Kim Jin-Sun (1998-2010). “The most important thing is the governor’s support. No matter how good the infrastructure is or how much money we have, if the governor does not care, we can’t do anything”, C. argued. In his opinion, “the main reason for this center’s foundation is that Gangwon province is sensitive to climate change”. Due to this sensitivity, the main objective was to examine how to adapt to climate change in a better way with respect to economic issues, enhancement of life quality, and welfare. There are two CRIK divisions, first “adaptation research” in which C. is involved, and second “energy research” focusing on mitigation. During the interview, C. gave the impression that he was truly concerned with environmental changes and their effect on the local population. He said that they would like to start implementing adaptation measures earlier than other provinces because Gangwon Province “has been the most damaged area in South Korea from natural disasters in the last ten years”. The project was a vulnerability assessment, focusing not on vulnerable groups but on natural ecosystems, such as forests which cover large parts of the province.

Project organization Besides the focus on forest management and disasters, there were other areas of interest like low carbon “green” building and city planning, carbon storage, green energy industry and renewable energy, which related to mitigation of climate change. When researchers at CRIK wanted to start a project, they usually made a proposal to the regional government which submitted this proposal to ME or to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. When a project was chosen, then 50% of the project expenditures were provided by central government funds. The other part was covered by regional government funds. C. said that at the beginning of each year, there was an exchange of ideas between CRIK and the Gangwon provincial

Involvement of regional actors

office regarding the foci of research. Sometimes, they received requests from the provincial government, or C. and his colleagues proposed an outline. He said that they sent an official document to the Gangwon Province office at the beginning of every year in order to ask for some ideas regarding research projects that would be good for that year. When they did not receive any requests, they provided an outline of research studies. The cooperation between CRIK and the provincial government seemed to work well, and they even cooperated on small matters, like the formulation of good research titles. Given that CRIK was the only regional climate change research institute in South Korea, C. explained that some central government institutions have contacted him directly, like the Ministry of Knowledge Economy or ME to ask for “local” research, with statistics from the districts or counties. One of C.’s major projects was the formulation of a detailed implementation plan for climate change adaptation after Gangwon Province published the Adaptation Master Plan in February 2010, which did not contain any detailed projects. He said that for the national strategy “Low-carbon, Green Growth”, in which climate change adaptation played an important part, a detailed regional implementation plan for 5 years, 2011-2016, has been requested by the ME. With regard to this demand, C. stated that the environmental policy of the ME has been “changing a lot these days”. In the beginning, his team considered preparing adaptation plans for forest and coastal areas “since these areas are the main vulnerable area in Gangwon Province”. But then one day, the request from ME changed. After, C. and his team were asked to prepare adaptation plans for “all parts”, meaning all sectors, because “other provinces were doing them all, too”. C. argued that ME has decided this and that he had no choice, because “the local government followed in what the central government has decided”. He criticized that the regional versions of adaptation strategies had to be homogeneous in all provinces and that this did not make sense, since for some counties particular sectors were irrelevant. Given that Inje County, for instance, does not have access to the sea, the sector “fisheries and marine industry” was not needed. What C. criticized here was the consolidation of regional adaptation plans, and the paternalism of the central government actors. According to him, the central government said “several times that we should adapt” to climate change, but C. insisted that the central government did not have the knowledge to coordinate the regional implementation of adaptation:



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

“There are many things which don’t make sense on the local level, so that sometimes we don’t understand why we should do that (referring to a command from the ME)”.

As an example, he mentioned ginseng cultivation. In the past, ginseng cultivation was rare in Gangwon but by then it was common; ginseng was a root that was difficult to grow yet had a good market price. The central government has asked for statistics (cultivation area, yield) from 1970 and 2010. However, C. said, they did not have the data and the request was therefore futile. At several points in the interview, he expressed major doubts about the requests of ME, but he was also aware of the dependency of CRIK on this central institution. For him, strategies for climate change adaptation were mainly required in disaster management, the forest sector, and water management. He said he would like to concentrate on these sectors, but he was expected to prepare plans for all sectors and not make his own choices. The rationale behind the blueprint of sectors given by ME through KACCC was mentioned at the beginning of this chapter: “We still need to help them”, said one KACCC member, assuming that regional actors would not be able to manage the local preparation and implementation of climate change adaptation themselves. In the interview with Dr C., the implementation of climate change adaptation projects was another topic to discuss. For him, at least 20 or 30 years were the necessary time frame for adaptation planning, with of course, sub-plans for a shorter period. The smooth development of such long plans, including their implementation, seemed difficult, due to the high turnover of government staff: “It has often happened whenever the governor had changed, the basic adaptation plans have just gone as well”.

The problem that C. described is that long-term adaptation plans were needed but that regional and local authorities with their particular interests change. For Gangwon Province, this meant that “if the president (of Gangwon Province) didn’t like the project, it didn’t work. No matter how good the project is, they won’t do it”. Another obstacle to implementing adaptation projects was the absence of economic benefit. The reason for the reluctance to implement some adaptation plans was that “there were many adaptation projects that were not good for earning money” (C.).

Involvement of regional actors

The regional government was more interested in mitigation projects because there were more economic development opportunities involved there compared to adaptation projects. The former governor of Gangwon, Kim Jin-Sun, expressed this attitude in an interview with the magazine “ecofuture” in 20104 saying that the generation of renewable energy was a major concern and that the goal was to expand the proportion of renewable energy to 15%. By 2012, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 6% compared to 2003, which were approximately 650,000 tons CO2. A flagship project in terms of mitigation policies was Gangneung, a city on the East coast of Gangwon, which was to be developed into a “green model city”. Kwi-Gon Kim, the head planner of this city complex, described it as “world class example of a replicable low-carbon green city, showing urbanoriented energy consideration and emission reduction”5. The concentration of single projects such as Gangneung was not only a positive development in the eyes of CRIK. One goal of CRIK was to rise awareness of climate change among the population of Gangwon. This idea had a simple background, because the more the population was informed, the more they asked for suitable policies. If they were well informed, “local people would pressure the regional government to do more about adaptation”. If “a lot of people in Gangwon Province knew about climate change”, “then they would put pressure on the local government” and then in turn, the government would invest more in climate change adaptation research. For C., this was a sound way to strengthen adaptation projects and their implementation in Gangwon Province: “what led the governor’s interests was the local people (...). For example, imagine when the governor visited one place and then one of the locals asked him directly: why didn’t you care about climate change since it is a really important problem”. In the promotion and education of the local people, C. saw that an essential aspect was pressuring the regional authorities. In 2010, the only example of an adaptation project was the selection of tree species for roadsides. In 2009, CRIK conducted a research study on appropriate tree species for lining roads in Gangwon Province. The research focused on the selection of “proper tree species regarding climate 4 | ticleView.html?idxno=1413, July 15th, 2010. 5 |, July 15th, 2013.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

change” meaning which species will better absorb CO2. While the study was conducted for the whole province, implementation was realized at the local level, for example in Wonju. A study on the improvement of street tree pruning by Park and Shim (2003) showed that trees were an already established instrument for the beautification of streets. However, now the focus has shifted to CO2 absorption, a new evaluation criteria. Even after the regional government had provided funds for the implementation of this project, its realization was not smooth and there were many barriers when it came to the implementation of CRIK research results. One of the characteristics was that tree selections was frequently done by local authorities on the basis of personal relations to farmers owning a tree nursery. These farmers and certain employees in the local authorities had grown up in the same village and had gone to school together. The following situation was reported by a regional actor: “The farmer who grew trees on his pyeong (area) went to the county office and says: You should buy my trees”. In many cases, the county office bought trees this way. The problem was that in practice the tree selection did not happen on the basis of scientific results but on the basis of ties of friendship between local actors, as well as economic benefit, because the farmer wanted to sell his saplings. Another problem was that the opinion of landscape architects was very “powerful” in the selection process. In one case, a government officer made a contract with a landscape architect and added him formally to the decision process. Based on the contract, the landscape architect discussed the tree selections with the government officers, bringing his own opinion into the implementation process. He was an old school friend of the government officer. This example showed that the implementation of adaptation politics is not an automatic process based on “scientific facts” but the result of negotiations between the participating actors and their interests. Moreover, the roadside tree project indirectly reflected the understanding of regional governmental actors that adaptation as a small-scale improvement of public space did not require the involvement or the mobilization of local people.

Involvement of regional actors

Links between CRIK and K ACCC

The above descriptions have already indicated a tension between central governmental and regional actors in terms of adaptation to climate change. The regional actors did not see the central actors as capable of implementing adaptation on the local scale. A point of critique was that regional institutes such as CRIK were regarded merely as statistical data providers and not as equal partners. KACCC focused on broad, nationwide research, yet still needed regional examples, references, and statistics, for example from CRIK. C. from CRIK said that the central government was only capable of managing adaptation on a large scale but not at the local level. On one occasion, KACCC researchers used materials that had been collected and processed by CRIK researchers and made a report for ME in which they presented the material as their own. This was the situation in which the conflict escalated and both parties “had a fight about it” (C.). This was the reason why the memorandum of understanding between CRIK and KACCC was not signed in February 2011. The exchange and processing of geo-statistical data was important in the adaptation-actor-network. The rationale behind the focus on statistics – found among both central and regional actors – was that adaptation to climate change was only possible when the actors in charge, in this case governmental actors, had enough knowledge about climate change impacts. This was a perspective on climate change adaptation in which the governmental actor was placed at the center of the realization of adaptation, not the local, potentially affected people. Unlike researchers at KACCC, regional actors argued that adaptation had to be managed at the local scale because places had different characteristics. Still, thinking that the biggest problem was that there were no statistical data and no figures was common for them. A current example for Gangwon was the calculation of vulnerability, for which past and present data was needed, at least for the last 10 years. Such statistics were usually recorded by the district offices, but the employees changed their job every two or three years. The Climate Change Adaptation Intelligence System (CCAIS), initiated in 2010 by the KACCC Intelligence Team, was an attempt to bundle and store statistical information. It was an expression of the conviction that climate change adaptation was achieved best though sophisticated information technology.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

CCAIS: Climate Change Adaptation Information System

In summer 2010, there was a meeting between KACCC and three officers from ME in which the idea of CCAIS was presented to the ministerial employees and eventually approved by them. The CCAIS database was developed and maintained by KACCC and KEI actors and funded by ME. CCAIS was defined as an “information system that was built in order to integrate distributed information on a variety of phenomena related to climate change on the national and regional scales, and to provide information to seize climate change adaptation”6. The reason to start CCAIS was that the “demand for information on what adaptation is and on how to adapt was increasing dramatically, from government departments to local community-based organizations”. He explained in a presentation at the 2nd International Symposium on Climate Change in October 2010 that “in order to adapt properly, sufficient information is crucial”. This was the aforementioned rationale of most governmental actors regarding adaptation. The function of CCAIS was to provide fast access to climate change relevant information, data “that will be easily found on the CCAIS platform”. The data base incorporated documents, statistics, and geo-information. The category “documents” was a collection of adaptation related papers distributed by different international research institutes and national governments. Each document was classified according to publishing actor, form, document size, summary, performing agency, date of publication, author, and key words. This was done to provide information and support for the user “without reading a full paper”. A figure available on the CCAIS webpage 7 showed the information flow and the involvement of other actor groups. The information flow started at the scale of central governmental actors. There, the KACCC intelligence and information team collected and proceeded materials provided by other institutions and made them available, after a standardization, to other actors: government agencies, educational institutions, research institutes, industry, citizens, and local governments. The example of CCAIS was evidence for two arguments: First, the flow of information and the empirical fact of CRIK being sub6 |, November 17th, 2012. 7 |, November 27th, 2012.

Involvement of regional actors

jected to KACCC showed a strong centralization of climate change adaptation in the political actor-network in terms of organized information flow and implementation. Second, this centralization of climate change adaptation led to inter-scalar tensions between central and regional actors. The CCAIS was KACCC’s concept of how information should be managed. This concept, however, was questioned by regional actors, like Dr C. Figure 14: The structure of CCAIS

Sources: accessed November 28th, 2012, and own data.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

In Latour’s vocabulary, CCAIS is at first sight an intermediary which “transports meaning or force without transformation” (2005: 38). However, the decision as to which information will be put on the CCAIS platform was made by the KACCC intelligence and information team. Moreover, the data was standardized and censored by these actors. This system was used in South Korea, but KACCC had plans to transfer this system to other countries: “in the near future CAIS will support East Asia’s climate adaptation”. The case of Gangwon Province, however, demonstrated that knowledge disseminated not only top-down but also bottom-up. The struggle over the authority to decide what climate change adaptation was and how it should be implemented is visible between these two scales. The tensions of adaptation to climate change in the regional context were closely connected to the matter of regional development and the relationship between Gangwon Province as the periphery and the political center, Seoul. Besides the tense relations between central and regional actors, and their struggles over knowledge of climate change and adaptation, the discussions have shown that climate change is regarded as a major driver in the future development of the province. On both the national and regional levels, the emergence of the adaptation concept has led to changes in the structural network of institutions. KACCC and CRIK were founded as major governmental thinktanks for climate change adaptation which signified a local translation of the climate change adaptation agenda in terms of structural change. Nonetheless, explicit projects and their implementation were rare. When it came to implementation, projects like the roadside trees were justified both as mitigation and adaptation to climate change. It is common for these governmental actors to consider adaptation as a long-term issue, for example C. mentioned adaptation strategies for the period up to 2030, and a similar time frame was considered on the national scale as well. Another similarity was the dominance of climate change monitoring and statistics as a necessary condition for the realization of adaptation. The lack of environment-related statistics was considered to be a major obstacle for adaptation to climate change: “Well, in order to estimate vulnerability, we need basic statistics, the past and present data. We need at least about 10 years, but there are no basic statistics

Involvement of regional actors

at all and in the case of (environmental) disasters, it is even worse” (G., regional officer).

The focus on statistics and disregard for the livelihood of affected groups, expressed through the lack of projects and the lack of consideration on the part of the interviewed officials, led to an unnoticed “de-humanization” of the adaptation agenda in the South Korean context. The focus was not on the South Korean people, such as farmers who were and will be affected by climate change, but on the sectors in which adaptation had to be achieved. Several strategies of the Gangwon Province Adaptation Action Plan showed that climate change adaptation was more about enabling and justifying governmental activities, for example climate change monitoring (research, climatology map), the monitoring of diseases and insects as well as their control, and the development of new crop varieties. The following table shows a compilation of adaptation plans, first general plan and then projects in agriculture in Gangwon Province. Table 12: National and regional adaptation strategies Strategy paper


Green Growth Korea

National level Climate monitoring, climate change prediction and scenarios, establishment of early response system Strengthening of national health system Building stable food supply 4-river restoration project Coastal zone management Building a system for disaster management Sustainable forest management Indicators of success Monitoring and advancements in prediction capabilities Environment-friendly agriculture Disaster response National forest areas



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Strategy paper


National Adaptation Plan

National level, sector: agriculture Promotion of climate friendly agriculture Impact assessment and prediction of crop production under climate change Development of new crop varieties, irrigation systems, cultivation techniques, mass livestock management, and forage supply system under climate change Foster agricultural efficiency and ecosystem conservation techniques Increased public funds to respond to climate change and to secure stable supply of agricultural products Damage prevention for agriculture Vulnerability assessment of the agricultural sector Development of technologies and infrastructure that will mitigate meteorological disasters (storm, flood) Prevention of pest spread and preparation of forecasting system Preparation of livestock disease measures

Gangwon Adaptation Plans

Regional level, sector: agriculture Climate change monitoring Development of new crop varieties and agricultural technologies Monitoring of diseases and insects Improvement of highland agriculture Recycling manure from livestock and using it as fertilizer Improve livestock management, especially waste treatment

Source: Commission on Green Growth 2009, Ministry of Environment 2010, Gangwon Province 2010

A comparison of the main strategies showed that climate monitoring as a means to keep control over future changes of climate was a significant aspect in all plans. The adaptation plan for Gangwon Province had more details which were shown in the next table. Most strategies gave central and regional governmental actors more responsibility and control, not the

Involvement of regional actors

farmers. The strategies had consequences for farmers but they were not in the focus of these strategies. Three of the other four points were directed towards livestock farming. Table 13: Details of Gangwon’s agricultural adaptation to climate change Strategy


Climate change monitoring

Research on climate change regarding agriculture Production of specified agricultural climatology map

New crop varieties and technologies

Stress-tolerant crops “Strategic crops” profiting from local climatic advantages

Monitoring diseases and pests

Early diagnosis of diseases and insects, monitoring of outbreak and distribution Development of disease and insect control schemes

Improvement of highland farming and selection of alternative crops

Technologies and alternative crops for stable production in highland agriculture Fertilization for highland crops

Recycling livestock manure to fertilizer

Spread of livestock liquid manure and quicker processes of fermentation

Development and supply of forage crops

Securing forage crop production Establishment of an integrated food and forage crop system

Management of livestock barns

Better management of livestock

Source: CRIK “Climate change adaptation for municipalities – 1st expert forum”, 2010: 35

The focus on self-enabling activities as adaptation strategies can be understood by the rationale of controlling climate change through extended monitoring and data collection, as if sufficient knowledge would lead to “successful adaptation”. Moreover, governmental actors were in the focus, such as research on climate change and the diagnosis of diseases and



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

insects. The problematization of climate change by governmental actors was the basis for dealing with it. Rutherford wrote that “power is not only about repression but also about productivity – the power to produce knowledge about the environment is key in formulating the terms of its management” (2007: 296). She argued that the production of knowledge, such as knowledge of climate change in South Korea, necessitated its regulation, management and government. This is why knowledge production (in terms of further climatic changes, pests, diseases, technologies) was the basis of the major adaptation strategies in Gangwon. The strategies were focused on the activities of governmental actors and neglect farmers mostly. Before contrasting CRIK adaptation strategies with the livelihoods of farmers in Inje County, the voices of ATC officers in Inje County Office were important. The ATC offices in each county were the direct contact between local governmental actors and farmers. Although there were several climate-change or green-growth related projects in the making, such as Gangneung City (“green city”) or Yeongwol County (first local adaptation plan, end of 2011), Inje, a border county to North Korea, was chosen due to its similarities to the Haean villages of Yanggu County.

The Agricultural Technolog y Center (ATC)

According to the director of the Agricultural Technology Center (ATC) in Inje, Kim Jong-Kak, ATC’s purpose was the “dissemination of new agricultural technologies and agricultural administration”8 in order to contribute to the promotion of farm income and to ensure economic competitiveness. In 2012, ATC Inje had a budget of 4311.7 million KRW, made up of 361.1 million KRW from central government funds, 175.1 million KRW from provincial funds, 1864.0 million KRW from county funds, and 1911.5 million KRW from other sources9. The budget was the financial basis for 13 projects focusing on agricultural development (for example support of fisheries, machinery leasing, village revitalization, and farm management). None of these projects was a specific climate change adaptation 8 |, Nov 13th, 2012. 9 |, Nov 13th, 2012.

Involvement of regional actors

project. Besides these projects, ATC officers were counsellors for farmers regarding farm management. In 2010, interviews were conducted with ATC employees (S., O.). When talking about farming today, the conversation turned to climate change, the challenges of farming, and the support of the government. When asked about the influence of climate change in Inje County, S. said: “What we are experiencing now are low temperatures and associated damages. In case the farmer cultivates vegetables and fruits outdoors, there’s not much we can do to support them. We encourage them to farm under structured cultivation conditions, like greenhouses. This is the way we try to avoid natural disasters. Since we can’t do everything at once, we deal gradually with climate change (...).”

He further explained that in the case of environmental disasters, the central or local government will support farmers financially. Current examples of environmental disasters were frost and hail in June. A farmer in Inje reported: “Last year, it hailed after I had finished planting rice seedlings. Thus, the crops were damaged by that, the leaves all dropped.” (Kwon Yong-Hyeon, Seohwa)

ATC’s reaction was called “emergency restoration”, meaning a supply of nutritional supplements and fungicides or the replacement of damaged crops in case a restoration of the crops was impossible. Peppers were damaged and the local government provided 50% of the costs for alternative seedlings and pesticides. This kind of subsidy was available to every farmer in the case of disaster, and S. said that farmers usually apply for support. Farmers have to register the damage and apply for this subsidy at the Inje town office. After the confirmation of the registration, ATC officers sent the applications to the district or regional office. However, when the damaged area was large enough, they contacted the central government directly. These extreme weather events were considered as “climate change” by the local ATC actors and they seemed to have played an important role in agriculture for several years. O. reported more details: “It has been 2-3 years. The monsoon came earlier in 2006 and again in 2009. As a consequence, July and August were cold months. If the temperature is



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

under 15°C, plants will stop growing. (...) This was the case for rice. We used early maturing rice cultivars. They could not germinate under these conditions. However, earlier cultivation was not possible due to typhoons and if we postponed the seeding, they would not have grown at all”.

S.’s quotation as well as the farmer’s responses given below showed that climate change was considered a major influence in the farming business. When talking about climate change, they did not mention adaptation as a concept nor as a related political agenda. Although climate change was seen as an influence, there were other factors like the fluctuation of crop prices, the lack of labor, and subsidies. O. explained more about the fluctuation of crop prices on the market. He said that they call it “speculative investment agriculture” by farmers with large areas, analogous to the real estate or stock market. S. said that “one day pepper plants were severely damaged. Still, the farmers continued with the same crop the following year. These were farmers with large areas, about 10,000-20,000 pyeong. They kept on cultivating peppers. The reason was that the price usually changes every 3 or 5 years. Although they lose one year and another, the price will rise someday, and their accumulated loss will be covered by it. Dreaming of the jackpot, that’s the farmer’s mind. It is exactly the same with the stock market. Those people are a special rural class. They don’t actually work but employ foreign workers. (...) But the realiy looks different, in Inje 60-70% of the farmers are peasants and they are indebted”.

S. explained more about foreign workers in agriculture: “There are a lot of foreign workers. Since the Public Service Employment has started, no one wants to work on the farms. The farmers pay 40,000 KRW average for one day, while you can earn 35,000 KRW for doing almost nothing in the Public Service Employment (...). The Public Service Employment also compensates the employees for the weekly and monthly day-off. Then, who is going to work on farms? Most of the workers here are Thais, illegal, working on pepper farms. They didn’t come here to learn agricultural technologies or things like that. They came here for to earn money”.

Involvement of regional actors

The survey also showed that large farms with more than two or three workers were not very frequent in Inje County. On the majority of farms, the work was done by family members, and during harvest time the farmers help each other. Still, S.’s statement indicated that working on a farm as an employee was economically not attractive. A Korean earned more than a foreigner, about 1.5 million KRW a month, compared to one million KRW for a foreigner. For most farmers, agricultural business seemed to be on the edge: it was hard to make your living and alternatives were rare. One major stabilizing factor for farmers was the subsidy system. When asked to explain more about the subsidy system, O. replied: “There’re thousand different kinds. National, regional, local, a fund (…) I can’t explain it in a systematic way. Farmers can receive subsidies for animal husbandry, conventional agriculture, horticulture, organic agriculture, fisheries, agricultural education, and livelihood improvements”.

The whole amount available for agricultural subsidies was 120 billion KRW and it increased every year by 4-5%. S. estimated this value, because there was no single budget item “agricultural subsidies”. The ATC received funds from diverse departments of the central government. About 190 million KRW were invested in the agricultural training of farmers in 2011. Agricultural trainings helped farmers to improve their farming skills. O. explained: “Our program includes agricultural extension services, agricultural machines training, animal husbandry training, livelihood improvements education, and occasional trainings. Regarding agricultural extension services, we hold a meeting early each year. Sometimes we provide extension services. We teach farming techniques for different crops: rice, corn, beans, potatoes, horticulture, Bokbunja (Rubus coreanus), Omija (Schizandra chinensis), edible wild plants, and ginseng”.

There were external educational programs as well, that usually took place before the farming season between March and May. Farmers could apply for training, and the ATC officer selected applicants. Accommodation and transportation were provided. The number of applicants accepted was limited because there were regional quotas. The reason for farmers to participate in a training was either to learn about a new crop or to extend



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

knowledge of a crop. S. argued that there were always variables in agriculture. Even when a farmer had cultivated potatoes for several years, he/she still needed to deal with new situations or variables. So far, this study has followed the translation of the adaptation agenda in the agricultural sector from central to local governmental actors in Inje. The interim conclusion is that activities fade within the network as they move from the center to Gangwon Province. On the local level, in Inje County, the ATC officers were aware of climate change but did not use the adaptation agenda to back up their arguments. In contrast, expressions of the urgency of adaptation were omnipresent in the KACCC office. In general, the significance of adaptation to climate change decreased from the central to the local levels. There are two potential explanations for this observation: First, the translation of the adaptation agenda into an agricultural project needed time, and this study was conducted too early to analyze implementation. (One can assume that there are no other cases of adaptation projects in other provinces, given that Gangwon Province was an early mover.) Second, the agenda of climate change adaptation had a specific purpose for central actors, which was not the same as in the agricultural sector where it is necessary to support farmers in rural villages. As a consequences, efforts in the adaptation-actor-network are directed at goals different from those on the local scale. The chapter on distant mobilization discusses this second point. The question regarding the purpose of the adaptation agenda emerged during the research process, given the lack of projects in contrast with the obvious claim of the central governmental actors that “one needs to adapt”. Although the empirical data zoomed in on agriculture, the argument will show that central governmental actors used this agenda in an attempt to establish a reputation in the global climate change community. A look at other sectors revealed the same lack of implementation or highly contested implementation. However, this study does not stop at the scale where adaptation projects were supposed to be implemented by farmers in Inje county. The survey showed that although farmers have not heard of the adaptation agenda, they have heard of climate change. Recalling the translation steps proposed by Callon, it seemed as if the target group of climate change adaptation, the group which would be in need to adapt, was not reached by the interventions of the governmental actors. Nevertheless, these actors spoke in the name of farmers. The term “distant mobilization” has been

Involvement of regional actors

chosen in this study to characterize the lack of interventions and the concentration on a sector rather than on the people involved.


The distant mobilization of farmers

The above observations regarding the national and regional scales have shown that there were no cases of adaptation implementation in the agricultural sector. Therefore, the farmers presented in the following chapter could not be included in the political actor-network in South Korea. Adaptation projects, legal incentives, restrictions or regulations referring to climate change adaptation were lacking. Nevertheless, it was valuable to analyze the livelihood of farmers in Inje County in order to contrast their problematization of climate change with KACCC’s problematization, and to show that the farmers’ coping strategies with regard to climate change are diverse. However, it was important to avoid an isolated perspective on these strategies based on climate change alone, because several other factors were influential in the farmers’ decisions.

Rural development and agricultural policy in Inje

Agriculture in South Korea faced several challenges on a domestic scale, such as small size farms, a high proportion of older farmers, the income gap between farming and urban households, changing consumer needs, and the underdeveloped distribution system. Key concerns of agricultural policy in South Korea in the past fifty years were food security, income parity between farming and urban households, increased competitiveness given the exposure to international competition, and rural development. However, the emphasis of these key concerns have changed during this period. After liberation from the Japanese occupation, a major reform in 1949/1950 was the gradual elimination of the privileges of the Yangban,


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

the former ruling class, and the redistribution of its farm land and uncultivated areas to farm workers without any own land. The maximum size of the farms was three hectares (Kim IK 1996). The first years after the Korean war were particularly difficult for farmers, because “inflation, combined with relatively low grain prices, resulted in terms of trade for the farmer that were consistently unfavorable, as the prices of agricultural raw materials and other manufactured goods rose faster than those of grain and vegetables” (Brandt 1979: 149f). Therefore, political efforts from the 1950s to the 1970s were focused on increasing agricultural productivity and on self-sufficiency in respect of rice. But the political initiatives soon concentrated on development of the industrial sector. Under the authoritarian government of Park Chung-Hee (1961-1979), the political focus was on the establishment of an export-oriented industrialization based on Five Year Economic Development Plans. “As the government had emphasized industrial growth and slighted the agrarian sector, agricultural production lagged; its annual rate of growth during the 1967-72 period was only about 2.5%. With overall GNP growing at over 10% a year during the same period, the rural economy steadily lost ground, until by 1969 farm income was only a little more than half that earned by urban workers” (Savada & Shaw 1997).

As consequence, many peasants migrated from rural communities to the urban centers. In Inje County, there were 61,611 inhabitants registered in 1970 and only 32,175 inhabitants in 2010 (Inje Statistical Yearbook 2010). This meant that in 30 years, the population in Inje has almost halved. “For the most part, it has been the richest and the poorest farm families who have left for the cities, so that in sociological terms, the stable, cohesive, homogeneous village structure comprising predominantly middle-level farm households has been reinforced” (Brandt 1980: 184).

The political response to cushion this trend was Saemaul Undong (SMU) or “The New Community Movement” launched in 1971, which was a program to mobilize the rural population and to modernize rural villages. However, the income parity between farming and urban households has deepened ever since. This is why the political focus in the 1980s and

Distant mobilization of farmers

1990s has been on structural adjustments and competitiveness in order to prepare for market liberalization. After three decades, the different paces of economic development are still evident: “South Korea’s increased economic wealth has not trickled down or spread to the countryside, where the rural populace remains comparatively impoverished” (Boyer & Ahn 1991: 23).

Today, the share of agriculture is 3.2% of the GDP. However, in a publication by the Korean Rural Economic Institute it is argued that agriculture has a significance that is beyond the economic dimension: “Agriculture has played many roles on the national level, such as food security, conservation of the national territory and the environment, as well as many social functions, including the maintenance of farm villages, prevention of city congestion, providing employment in the agricultural industry, and support of aged populations” (KREI 2010: 488).

According to the census of 2010, there were 1.17 million farm households in South Korea with a total population of 3.06 million people (KOSIS Agricultural Census 2010). In Gangwon Province, around 200,000 people live in farm households (72,500). In Inje County, there were 3,251 farm households and 9,336 people living on farms (Inje Statistical Yearbook 2008: 73). The negative trend of rural-urban migration has persisted. This has led to a number of difficulties, for example in demographic terms: “The agricultural sector has played a crucial role in Korean economic development in that it has provided a plentiful supply of labour to new industries. However, as this labour drew mainly on younger people who migrated to urban centres, there has been a corresponding deterioration in the demographic structure in the agriculture sector, a break-up of traditional rural communities, and severe labour shortages in rural areas” (OECD 2008: 14).

In order to meet these challenges and to stabilize the competitiveness of farms, political actors have launched a number of reforms. In general, direct payments have been expanded to cover cases like “early retirement payment” for farmers older than 65 years (1997), “less favored areas”



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

(2006), “support for paddy fields” (2004), and a “crop/livestock insurance scheme” (2006). The most important direct payment in South Korea was the direct income support mechanism for paddy fields which included both a fixed and a variable payment system. The fixed payment for registered paddy fields was KRW 700,000 per hectare (USD 732) in 2006 (OECD 2008: 28). A major characteristic of farms in Inje and in the whole of South Korea was the relatively small size of the cultivated farm area. A combination of different aspects, like regulations regarding the sale and transfer of farmland and the role of the land as a family asset to be preserved, has resulted in extremely small farm sizes, with an average of about 1.4 hectares (KOSIS Agricultural Census 2010). Until 1992, farmers were not allowed to own more than three hectares of farmland. This regulation was loosened and from 1993 farmers were allowed to own farmland without any size limitations. Figure 15: Farm size in Gangwon Province

Source: KOSIS Agricultural Census 2010

Although the size limitation was relaxed, the majority of farms in Gangwon Province still cultivate an area of less than three hectares. Provinces with a high proportion of large farms are South Chungcheong, South Jeolla, and North Jeolla. The Korea Rural Community and Agricultural Corporation (KRC), a non-profit actor, has played an important role

Distant mobilization of farmers

in farm consolidation. One major KRC project involved enlarging farm size to improve productivity and rural income through economies of scale and the consolidation of farmland. Under this project, farmers were given financial support for leasing and acquiring farmland through low interest loans, with a focus on young, full-time rice producers (OECD 2008: 31). In the following survey and in the interviews conducted with farmers in Inje, the focus was on how they cope with climate change and what other influences they identified in their daily decision-making, such as political incentives or economic factors. Figure 16: Interviewing farmers in Gangwon

In the survey in Inje County, the age of farmers ranged between 28 and 80 years with an average of 53 years. Most interviewees were male, and were born and had grown up in Inje County. The majority of farmers were married and in more than two-thirds of the households, there were more than two children. Questions in the survey addressed crop cultivation, area of cultivated land, land status, education, farm succession, distribution of agricultural products, income, and number of employees.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The problematization of weather and climate change

In order not to imply that environmental changes in Inje are due to climate change, the interviews started with questions regarding the farmer’s perception of weather and its changes. All farmers could tell a story about changing weather patterns in recent years. The following quotations show that there were different aspects mentioned by the farmers. Lee Won-Hee, a village leader in Buk district, when asked if he has noticed any weather changes since he has been living in this region, replied that “there is no specific event, but I can tell by the temperature I feel every winter. When I moved here, in my first year, it was around 20°C below zero. Nowadays, the temperature is not very low. It has been warming certainly”.

Another farmer said that it has become warmer in the region compared to the past (Choi Jung-hyun and Lee Gwang-Yong, both Buk district). Chang Geun-Seo (Seohwa district) argued that in the past, “it used to snow a lot in this region but now the amount of snow and the number of snowing dates are getting less”.

Other farmers mentioned extreme weather events, like frost in May or June, hail, and heavy rain. Cheong Bong-Seon, a farmer in Seohwa, said that there were sudden heavy rains, “like a disaster” and he added that “sudden changes seem to happen more frequently which everyone notices”. Oftentimes, farmers remembered a particular weather event because it had a negative impact on their crops. The second step in the interview was to find out whether farmers related their perceptions of changing weather patterns to climate change. The standardized survey showed that the majority of farmers have heard of climate change (97%) but the question was still whether the weather events farmers observed were seen as climate change. Regarding this question, there are two groups of farmers: for one group, climate change was a distant phenomenon that did not relate to their own livelihood, and for the other group climate change happened in Inje and they experienced it themselves. An example of the first group is Cheong Bong-

Distant mobilization of farmers

Seon (Seohwa) who replied as follows to the question “Have you heard of climate change?”, “The media often talks about it. I have a friend in the US. He said the glaciers in Alaska will melt into nothing in a few years. It seems very serious”.

Another farmer said that “climate change means the temperature is changing, which leads to diverse impacts, for example the sea level of the Pacific Ocean will be higher. That’s how I know about climate change” (La Deung-Yong, Buk). When asked further questions about what they know about climate change, many answered that they do not know much about it; for instance Lee Gi-Yeong of Inje Eup said: “I don’t know anything specific about climate change as I’m only a farmer. But it worries me that it seems to become real”.

The other group of farmers related climate change to their own situation. Choi Jong-hyun (Buk) replied: “I don’t know well how to express this scientifically but I was told that global warming happens when the ozone layer is destroyed. (...) From my experience here, there are many pollution factors, more than in the past. Especially cars, in the past there were only one or two cars in town but these days, even every house has one or two”.

Another farmer explained that he has experienced climate change a lot in his daily life for 4-5 years (Chang Geun-Seo, Seohwa). Choi Keong-Oh, who lives in Girin district, told his experience of climate change: “Of course, I heard it through the newspaper. However the reality, the real experience matter. We moved here 13 years ago. When we first arrived here, we tried to do orchard farming like many people did. We planted peach, pear, apple and persimmon trees. Later, plum tree as well. In the case of plums, it would have worked (...) but it didn’t work since this region was too cold. And jujube, we also have jujube trees. We harvested for the first time this year even though we planted them 10 years ago. (...) This is my experience, I feel it is really warmer than before”.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Compared to central governmental actors of KACCC, climate change here was a much less dominant social construction for explaining environmental changes. While some farmers problematized climate change on the basis of their own experience and the media (TV, newspaper), others related distant environmental phenomena to climate change, so one had to argue that there are many slightly different perceptions of climate change. The answers given by farmers to the question when climate changes started differed and this was an indicator of their different perceptions of climate change. Some mentioned a special environmental event, like a storm, or the time when they began to observe changes in the farming process. Previous studies have addressed perceptions of climate change of farmers in developed countries (Barnes & Toma 2011, Arbuckle Jr. et al. 2013). Arbuckle Jr. et al. could show that farmers’ beliefs about climate change and its causes vary considerably, as in this study. They argued that these different beliefs shape the farmer’s attitudes towards adaptive and mitigative action. Farmers who perceive climate change were theoretically more willing to change their farming practices. This study, however, showed that perception is not the most important factor in the decisionmaking of farmers. Although the majority of farmers in Inje have perceived climate change, not all of them were able and willing to cope with these changes.

Farming practices and limitations of coping

When speaking about climatic changes, the farmers always reported (mostly without being asked) the influence of these changes on their farming activities. Most of them said that climate change had negative effects on their agricultural production. Only a few reported that climate change was a positive influence, and a few said that there are both positive and negative effects. The chart below shows answers to the question “What kind of effects of climate change on your agricultural production do you observe?”. The majority of farmers stressed the negative effects of climate change on the agricultural production. The impact of climatic change depended on the cultivation technique of the farmers. Crops in greenhouses were less

Distant mobilization of farmers

exposed to extreme events and farmers were able to regulate temperature and irrigation. On the one hand, farmers explained the negative aspects of the new weather patterns, but on the other hand, some farmers named positive developments as well. Cha Chun (in Buk district) said that both the quantity and the quality of crops in that year (2010) were below average (chicory, maize, Chinese cabbage) and that this happened to many other farm households, too. Several farmers mentioned a reduced yield or no yield at all due to complete destruction of the crop. “This year, the bean harvest was really bad. (...) Due to the typhoon, there were even people who couldn’t harvest at all” (Park Namsun, Buk).

Figure 17: Effects of climate change on agricultural production

Another farmer, Lee Won-Hee (Buk), said that “the cold weather might have affected those who cultivate fruit trees, in early spring. Because it froze when the trees were about to bloom”. Some farmers, however, reported about the positive effects of climate change. The same farmer, Lee Won-Hee, argued that climate change can also be quite good for farming because he could apply crop diversification. Other positive aspects were “extension of the growth period” leading to better harvests (Choi JongHyun) and the possibility of growing new types of crops. The observation of environmental changes has led to adjustments by farmers in their agricultural practices. The term “adjustments” was carefully chosen to describe the response of farmers given that all of them



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

stated in the standardized survey that they have not heard of the adaptation concept. There were different ways in which farmers have changed certain aspects of their farming methods or choices. One farmer, Kwon Yong-Gi (Seohwa), said he acted according to the precautionary principle: “When temperatures occur that are unusual for the season, I take measures to offset the damage”.

This meant that he prepared a rice seed plot in his greenhouse. He sowed the seeds in the protected area and relocated them later to an outdoor paddy field. In this way, he could avoid the young seedlings being damaged by cold temperatures. Figure 18: Rice seedlings

Another attempt was to change the crop type and to grow more suitable or beneficial types. “Yes, choosing the right crop (...) well, the type of crop should be considered in order to fit the climate in this region” (Chang, Geun-Seo, Seohwa).

Distant mobilization of farmers

One farmer explained how he planted persimmon trees four times within the last twelve years but they usually died after two years (La Deung-Yong, Buk). Another farmer told about his plans to cultivate persimmon: “I have been to Gyeongsanbuk Province. When you think of Cheongdo County, it will probably remind you of persimmon. Now, it is possible to cultivate them even in this area. So, I would like to try to plant persimmon trees. These days, this idea becomes clearer.” (Choi Jong-hyun, village leader, Buk)

Others considered cultivating apples, pears, water melon, or grapes. However, some crop conversions will lead to problems or there were limits to adjustment. One farmer said that he would like to stop cultivating rice, yet “when you shift from rice paddy to a dry field, the farming performance doesn’t work well for one, two years because the rice paddy is wet, more compost is needed” (Kwon Yong-Hyeon, Seohwa). But there were voices, too, that argued that some farmers have not really changed their practices despite environmental changes (Lee Won-Hee, village leader, Buk). Asked if he thinks that other farmers are aware of climate change when he talked to them, he responded that they were aware but “nobody has really changed, even those who think of doing so”. The reason, he added, was “because they have been doing farming for around 30-40 years. It would be too risky to try something new”. The above examples show that some farmers have tried to deal with the new situation, but several voices expressed doubts and pointed out the limitations of coping. The farmers mentioned high investment costs, lack of labor, occupation with other business, lack of knowledge, uncertainty, lack of communication and consulting. One farmer simply said that for now everything is fine, “but it seems that the crop which used to be cultivated in the Southern area is coming up here to the North. We don’t have any place to go further (to the North)” (Kwon Yong-Hyeon, Seohwa, November 2010).

He made a simple observation: The environment will likely change, so that other crops, previously grown in the South can be cultivated but the farmers “will have to” stay in their village. The most important limitation to coping was investment costs. One farmer, Chang Geun-Seo (Seohwa), explained:



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

“Farming is a one-year cycle which means we work for one year and earn our living for the entire year. Although I have worked for three to five years, I have only invested and the investments were not beneficial. When the investment costs are too high, it imposes burdens on the farmers, but if the government suggest and support adaptation to climate change, I will try it. But when they say that I will have to pay to try it, I simply cannot do it”.

Another farmer highlighted the fact that it takes time for investments to amortize: “Investments are important but it is also important to take care of farmers for the period, let’s say five years, during which they cannot benefit from new crops such as an apple orchard. Climate change occurs right now, and we cannot produce orchards quickly. That’s why the government should at least give us some kind of loan or technical education” (La Deung-Yong, Buk).

The second limitation was the lack of labor. ATC employees explained that there was a shortage of labor due to low salaries and due to the hard work on a farm. The lack of labor and the inability to invest are related. Cho Eun-Hee explained that she and her husband have changed to a cash crop and that she will need to invest more, which “is quite a burden” for her. “If I invest, we will need more labor. It is not possible for just the two of us to manage” (Cho Eun-Hee, Seohwa). Another example was that of a farmer (Choi Jong-Hyun), a village leader in the Buk district, who had not farmed for 20 years. Now, he was back in the farming business and wanted to cultivate persimmon trees but he admitted that the “cultivation process will be difficult”. When asked what he meant, his answer was: “Buying the saplings will be no problem as that is supported by the government but the planting and growing process will be difficult because the rural population ages, well I am not really old yet (his age: 46). This will lead to a lack of labor. It is only me who will do it. There is no one that I can ask to help. (...) The most problematic thing is labor. Lack of labor”.

An adaptation strategy named by RDA actors was crop diversification. However, such a strategy was not easy to implement as one farmer explained:

Distant mobilization of farmers

“As I mentioned before, when I cultivate diverse crops, I need additional laborers. Because of the lack of labor, it is hard to manage. Maybe one or two different crops, or two or three, would be fine. But when I cultivate many different crops, they all require different types of work. It is not possible”.

The third obstacle to coping with climate change was uncertainty due to lack of knowledge. Geun-Seo Chang, a farmer from Seohwa, explained: “People like us don’t know much about the changes, and this is not because we live in a rural area. We might have heard of something changing. But we don’t know in detail what exactly will change and how, and how this has an influence on us. When we hear that something is going to change, we think we need to adapt, but we don’t have any clear idea of possible measures or ways to cope with it”.

There was a general uncertainty about future developments, and the same farmer admitted that external advice would be needed, for example “helping me to choose what crops to grow or what measures to take, and suggestions with regard to marketing. These days there are many people who want to start using new farming methods instead of doing conventional farming. But since they don’t know what to do, they don’t really start. They don’t feel really secure about taking a new step. I have been doing farming for three years, but the profit is not really good so far”.

A similar opinion is expressed by a female farmer: “In my case, as a pioneer (in chicory cultivation), it is hard to start things like opening up a market since people who used to do it, don’t do it anymore” (Cha Chun from Buk).

However, agricultural information has to be specific according to the needs of the farmers. Information from RDA was available online, but a farmer reported that “in the case of farming, actual experiences, especially by local farmers, matter more. Well, on the media side, the timing is usually not correct. We are often told by the media things like which crop should be good to be planted at which



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

time. But usually this does not fit this region since there are differences in temperature or regional features”.

Similarly, Lee Chang Son argued: “The most important thing is that the weather forecast from the National Weather Service is correct. We plan according to this information. If it is wrong, then it could be problematic” (Lee Chang Son).

This assessment was not shared by another farmer who rather saw the problem in the communication between farmers: “In the past, exchanging information was working well. But now maybe because of the Internet, when people have their own know-how, they should pass on the information or exchange it. This doesn’t happen anymore. Lack of communication is the problem” (Choi Jong-hyun).

In general, the population in Inje is aging: While in 2002 the share of the over 60-year-olds was 17.5%, in 2007 it was already 20% (Inje Statistical Book 2008). For many old farmers, changing their agricultural practices was difficult and alternatives in life were rare: “What kind of job can I get at this age except farming? I will do farming until I die. I even need to rent the land because I don’t own my own, I have to do farming to survive. I don’t have either money or any other possibility to get a job. I can’t do anything else” (Lee Gi-Yeong, Inje).

Although climate change seemed to be an important driver in the decisions of farmers, it would be inadequate to isolate weather changes or climate change as the only influencing factor. The question was how important is “climate change” in the farmer’s decisions on what and how to cultivate. The results of the survey showed the following ranking of influencing factors, starting with the most important:

Distant mobilization of farmers

1. Market price (37 first nominations) 2. Investments (seeds, pesticides, etc.) (32) 3. Climate factors (24) 4. Subsidies (29) 5. Neighbor’s decision (52) The ranking shows that economic considerations are most important. It also suggests that for the majority of farmers, the neighbor’s decision is not crucial compared to these other four factors. The fact that “climate factors” is in third position and only received 24 nominations means that there was a high variance in ranking “climate factors”. The interpretation of this statistical figure is that for some farmers climate factors are very important and for others climate has a lower significance, for instance because they cultivate crops in a greenhouse. Figure 19: A row of young blooming apple trees

This result matches with the in-depth interviews: some farmers, especially the younger and wealthier ones, who are less reliant on subsidies, considered future climate change as important, reflected in the fact that they have started new ventures, such as planting apple tree saplings.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Linking the national and local

To the question in the survey “Who is responsible for acting against climate change in the agricultural sector?”, the majority of the farmers answered “the government and public institutions”. One farmer argued that “I need support from the government. The government can motivate farmers to cultivate alternative crops to cope with climate change. They have a research team who knows better than us. They can test different crops first, and when it turns out fine, they can propagate it to us” (Choi Jong-hyun, village leader Buk district).

Another farmer named “the government or large enterprises” because “the CO2 released from production processes actually comes from large enterprises” (Cheong Bong-Seon, Seohwa). Several farmers said that they relied on ATC or just on themselves. One farmer expressed his disappointment with Nonghyup, the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation which was supposed to help farmers regarding financial and extension services, insurance and marketing: “In the past, farmers used to work together with Nonghyup. But now it seems that Nonghyup is only interested in its own benefit. The only things I can get through Nonghyup are agricultural pesticides and materials. It would be good if we had something innovative coming up. But it doesn’t seem like it. Farmers simply don’t trust Nonghyup anymore” (Cha Chun, Buk).

The majority of farmers said they had participated in agricultural training (87%), provided by ATC, and had received subsidies from governmental offices. Moreover, farmers said they were not satisfied with the agricultural training. One farmer said that “Well, in the Southern regions of South Korea, they have started to plant tropical plants or tropical fruits and I was told that we need to change as well” (Chang, Geun-Seo, Seohwa).

Distant mobilization of farmers

Another farmer said that he would not go to the training again because “it was not really helpful” (Lee Gwang-Yong, Buk) and another reported: “I used to attend it a lot. Sometimes, it was even four to five times per year”. There were even specific agricultural courses about climate change, but he was skeptical: “It is nothing special. I won’t join it anymore” (Kim Hak-Sung, Buk). Subsidies were another link between farmers and the government. Many farmers received subsidies and are dependent on them. There were subsidies for agricultural damage and infrastructural improvements, like greenhouses. Some farmers relied very much on subsidies, like Park Namsun (Buk): “The government should support it (agriculture). The only thing we can rely on is subsidies”,

or Choi Keongoh (Girin): “Yes, subsidies help a lot. I got much. It helps me really a lot”.

Others have a different opinion about subsidies: “It is, of course, good to get some subsidy. But do farmers do farming because of subsidy? No, ...” and “agriculture is so much dependent on luck. If you are lucky, you will have a good harvest, otherwise it doesn’t work” (Jang Mun-Yong). Most subsidies were paid only once, and one farmer said it would be “better if the subsidy was provided two or three times, until the farm is working well, not just done once. Well, for a facility such as a greenhouse, that it is only supported once” (Yang, Myeong-Heup, Girin).

Although some farmers have received a substantial amount in subsidies, farming does not seem to be sufficient for making a living, and about half of the interviewed farmers had additional income sources that yielded between 100,000 and 70,000,000 KRW with an average of around 10,000,000 KRW (ca. 6500 Euro) per year. The subsidies from the government sustained agriculture in Inje County on a basic level. The following figure summarizes the different factors which farmers in Inje included in their decision-making. 



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Figure 20: The decision context of farmers

The top-down and bottom-up perspectives of climate change adaptation

A comparison of the top-down and bottom-up perspective showed that there were different rationalities regarding climate change and adaptation. Despite the fact that the political adaptation agenda was not translated on the local scale, the survey showed that farmers employed different coping strategies. The following can be said regarding the situation in Inje and Gangwon: In demographic terms the population will age and the decrease of the population will continue. The significance of agriculture will further decrease and support from the government will cushion this trend. KMA meteorologists predicted a high degree of climate change impacts for Gangwon province and some environmental changes have already been recognized by farmers in Inje. All farmers said that they have experienced climate change and related weather events in recent years. Their statements, however, stood in contrast to the problematization of

Distant mobilization of farmers

climate change by CRIK, for example in terms of snowfall. Many farmers explained climate change by the low temperatures and the heavy snowfall in winter, but CRIK reported that snow masses had decreased from 4799 cm (1970) to 3188 cm (2000) due to climate change (지자체 기후변화 적 응대책/Adaptation strategies for the local government Gangwon 2010: 12). Other statistics in respect of Gangwon corresponded to the farmers’ experiences, but this little detail gave evidence that the problematization of climate change stayed firm although the explanation behind it differed. For central governmental actors, climate change adaptation was a long-term business that required strategies covering periods up to 30 years, so that the time frame was very different from the planning of farmers which was from season to season. The reason was that the adaptation concept had a specific meaning for central actors who promoted adaptation on an international scale: in the first instance, this was aimed at establishing an international reputation in international climate change politics. These actors claimed that climate change was one of the most important drivers of the future development of countries, but the case study in Inje revealed that climate change was seen as one driver among many others, most notably economic factors. One very important aspect was the demographic situation in Inje, which led to an uncertain future for the farms due to the lack of successors. Only eight farmers out of 87 said in the survey that they had a suitable farm successors. This result was independent of the status of the land (rented, owned). For many young adults, farming was not attractive and they migrated to the larger cities to seek work. At this point, one could criticize the absence of projects for the implementation of adaptation in the agricultural sector. This was inconsistent with the political discourse on climate change which stressed the need to adapt of vulnerable groups. The governmental interventions kept the level of agriculture on an economic status quo, while the cash flow went in other directions and efforts were made on another scale; for example the restoration of the four major rivers in South Korea was labeled as climate change adaptation. The focus of adaptation projects in Seoul and projects in relation to the Green Growth strategy, and the neglect of rural provinces like Gangwon, expressed the continuation of the spatial and sectoral selectivity on the part of central actors in favor of the centers that was “inherent in the state’s industrial and regional policies” (Park BG 2008: 48).



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The following chapter shows that this spatial selectivity was not between regions in South Korea but entered the global scale of climate change politics.

The continued way of traveling: Boosting adaptation Korea is ready to become a green nation copied by the world. Advertisement by the Korean government on the occasion of the G20 summit in Seoul (The Korean Herald, November 8th, 2010)

While there was almost no implementation of agriculture-related adaptation projects on the local scale in the study area, Gangwon Province, many activities of central adaptation actors consisted of international business trips, presentations of the Korean adaptation strategy, and the organization of international symposiums or workshops, such as the 32nd IPCC meeting in Busan and the International Symposium on Climate Change in October 2010. In the past few years, the South Korean state has become a visible actor in the international climate change community, for example by organizing the COP in co-operation with Katar in 2012. These activities can be understood as “policy boosterism” together with the efforts in the global promotion of Green Growth, for instance through the Global Green Growth Institute. McCann (2013) defined “policy boosterism” as a subset of traditional marketing activities, with its own interests, strategies, audiences, geographies, and consequences. The purposes of such promotional strategies is “to boost the policies” reputation among geographically-extensive policy-making communities and to enhance the professional reputations of those policy actors who were involved in developing the policies” (McCann 2013: 738). The point of this chapter is to show that adaptation to climate change was boosted by central actors whose primary goal was to establish a good reputation or even an hegemonic position in terms of environmental


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

governance on a global scale, while implementation in the agricultural sector was neglected and the realization of the 4-river restoration project was internally debated. The success that central actors wanted to “sell” was the Green Growth paradigm and the 4-river restoration project as a model for other rivers, like the Mekong in South East Asia, and the adaptation to climate change concept. The following quotation help to explain why the South Korean government has become active and visible in international climate change politics recently. Cumings said that “they (the Koreans) have regained a world status that internal decline and foreign predation snatched from them, but on a different basis: no longer the country of the way, distinguishing itself through Confucian virtue and statecraft, but the avatar of rapid industrial growth, hell-bent-for-leather modernization, and world-class human talent” (2005: 512).

Looking at the statistics of economic development, South Korea is one of the strongest global players. Since the emergence of climate change as a threat to the global community, the governments of developed and developing countries have started negotiations with regard to potential responsibilities (mitigation limits) and allocation of funds. The South Korean government is one actor in this process which has tried to establish itself as the global player of Green Growth. The marketing activities undertaken by the Presidential Committee on Green Growth were diverse and obvious, whereas the boosting of adaptation to climate change was not as strong. Since adaptation to climate change was seen as a pillar of Green Growth, this can be regarded as a case of policy boosterism. On the basis of observations during my participation in the preparation of the 2nd International Symposium in October 2010, and the Symposium itself, the Korean government’s efforts to boost adaptation and further its propagation could be shown. The propagation of adaptation was understood as another step in the translation process that differed from the implementation of adaptation strategies in the home country due to an extension of scale and rededication of the concept.

Boosting Adaptation

The international climate change workshop at COE X

On October 8th, 2010, the Seoul International Workshop on Climate Change was held in the COEX venue, organized by the National Institute for Meteorological Research (NIMR), KACCC, KEI, and CHANGE (the Korean Society of Climate Change Research). The sponsors were Green Growth Korea and KEITI (Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute). The workshop date was chosen because of the 32nd Session of the IPCC in Busan from October 11-14th. The venue, COEX, was one of the most prestigious conference centers in South Korea, where one month later, the G20 summit took place, as well as the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. The workshop venue was the COEX Grand Ballroom. It was described as “as a pillar-free space, furniture can be rearranged to accommodate any style of event. Moreover, with swing doors at the entrance, it’s possible to allow large crowds convenient access to the hall. The spacious and attractive lobby can be used for registration areas, coffee breaks, and receptions”10. Two rooms, 104 and 105, could be separated from the other parts of the ballroom and together had an area of 600 sq.m. and space for 300 people. For the workshop, these rooms fitted well and there were hardly any empty seats, but the COEX center seemed too large. Because there was no other event on any of the three floors, workshop participants easily got lost in the huge hallways. This is a short description of the day: N. told me to be at the COEX at around 8:30am. The symposium took place at the COEX complex which includes hotels, a shopping center, conference and exhibition rooms. For the symposium with around 300 participants, the location seemed too large. Before the official part, the situation at the reception desk was quite chaotic. It was not clear how the participants were to be welcomed, and there seemed to be no coordination of the employees from KMA and KACCC who were both responsible for the workshop. Because there was no official registration for the meeting, there were no name tags, except for the employees of the institutes. In fact, KMA and KACCC members formed the majority of participants, and not many other people attended. Later, KMA employees took responsibility for the front desk and KACCC 10 |, January 11th, 2013.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

members organized the conference material (symposium book with all the PowerPoint presentations, a KEI flyer and a KACCC brochure). Figure 21: Final preparations for the workshop

The morning session of the workshop was held together with KMA (Opening and Special Session). Afterwards, the room was separated by a partition and two parallel sessions were held: “Cross Cutting Issues on Climate Change” and “Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Strategies”. Around 150 participants attended the second session. According to S., a KACCC leader who is responsible for inviting foreign speakers, the objectives of this workshop were “to share knowledge and experience of climate change adaptation through international networking” and “to set the future course for climate change science and related fields through discussion of cross-cutting themes”. Two other goals were to provide an opportunity for interaction between climate science in South Korea and abroad, and the promotion of consensus among the general public on climate change issues. Speakers from the IPCC came from Belgium and Cuba, while researchers without any affiliation to the IPCC were from the US, Japan, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Australia. Except for these presenters, there were no foreign participants.

Boosting Adaptation

The invitation procedure One speaker from abroad was an employee of the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency who presented the Australian climate change adaptation strategy. A KACCC researcher explained to him in an email at the end of September 2010: “and about the air ticket, currently we can support about 2000 USD based on our budget. (...) But please note that we surely will check out our additional budget for a business-class ticket if you want”. Later, “we can either (1) book the ticket here and send e-ticket to you or (2) you can reserve the ticket in Australia and get a reimbursement from us. Please let us know which way you prefer”. The total coverage of costs for the speaker included hotel, per diem, fees for the presentation and the panel discussion. For this symposium, KACCC was interested in inviting a speaker from Germany, too, because of Germany’s good reputation in environmental policy. That was why S. asked the author of this thesis if she could recommend a German institute or researcher. Eventually, he wrote to the PIK director and invited him to come. In an email dated August 20th, he wrote: “We are planning the 2nd international symposium on adaptation strategies for climate change on October 8th 2010 in Seoul. The symposium will mainly consist of national assessments reports and strategies for climate change adaptation, which would be a great chance to exchange the knowledge and pursue bilateral cooperation. (...) We also invite experts in adaptation field from Australia, Japan, UNEP, and possibly from US (executive office of the President) or Germany/ Canada”.

This invitation was not successful, even after a second attempt to invite a member of the German Environment Agency, and so there was no speaker from Germany. However, the attempts showed that there was substantial interest in inviting a speaker from Germany. Another invitation went to a female researcher from Umea University in Sweden. She said that she was invited by KACCC because of the publications and presentations listed on her personal webpage. She did not have any ties to KACCC, nor did she participate in the IPCC meeting. For her, the trip to Seoul paid for by KACCC was a welcome change and she planned to travel in South Korea for a few days after the workshop. Her presentation was about the costs and economics of climate change adap-



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

tation. According to her, when she arrived at the COEX the Korean organizers were “shocked” to see a woman with tattoos and piercings. During the workshop and the evening reception, she and the Korean organizers did not warm up to each other and she complained, half-jokingly, that she was obviously not accepted here as a serious researcher. One slot in the session “National Climate Change Adaptation Strategies” was reserved for an employee from the US Environmental Protection Agency who was supposed to present the US adaptation plans. The presenter who was initially invited did not show up and was eventually replaced by a member of the US embassy, who stated in his introduction that he did not have any connection to climate change adaptation, nor had his country launched anything close to a climate change (adaptation) strategy. Shortly after his presentation he left the COEX center. The invitation of speakers to the symposium showed a tendency towards researchers and government employees of developed countries that were known for their strong environmental policies, such as Australia and Germany. Since one of the aims was to establish cooperations, one could deduce that collaboration with these countries was desired. The invitation of a US American speaker was interesting, given that the US was not known for its adaptation policies. During the workshop, two KACCC researchers presented the South Korean adaptation strategy as a broad and well-elaborated program, which can show very few results at the implementation stage. The foreign presenters and KACCC actors met on equal terms and KACCC members argued that they could learn a lot for the domestic case from foreign strategies. This understanding found expression in the idea that KACCC researchers should interview the speakers from Japan and Australia in detail about climate change adaptation. Before the workshop, there was a meeting in which agreement was reached on a catalog of questions regarding governance, decision makers and the implementation of adaptation. The purpose of the interviews was to compare different national adaptation strategies and to compile them in one report, according to N., a researcher in the international cooperation group at KACCC.

Boosting Adaptation

Figure 22: The audience at the workshop

General questions 1. What are the most vulnerable area and sector in your country? 2. What’s the biggest challenge of climate change adaptation in your country? Motivation to adapt 3. What is the main motivation of your country’s responsible institutions to adapt to climate change? 4. Are there any conflicting interests of stakeholders who are involved in climate change adaptation? Governance structure 5. What governmental agencies and departments are actively shaping the process of adaptation in your country? 6. Which other organizations (NGOs, etc.) or actors are involved? 7. How are the responsibilities distributed between different levels of governance? Information and data transfer 8. How is the interaction between research institutes and political decision makers organized? Do you think that all political decision makers have sufficient information on climate change and its impacts?



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

9. Can you explain and specify how knowledge about climate change and adaptation is communicated and transferred? (Data bases, conferences, workshops, etc.) 10. How do you involve the population regarding adaptation to climate change? Do you think that there is a general awareness of climate change? Revision and assessment of adaptation strategies 11. Do you ensure that adaptation policies (programs, regulations, etc.) are reviewed regarding their implementation? How do you do this exactly? Could you give us one example? 12. Where do you personally see a particular strength or advantage in your country’s adaptation policy?

The goal was to analyze the interviews and to compare different adaptation strategies. The official purpose of the symposium was to present the Korean strategy to an international audience and to start up cooperations between political decision-makers, but also between political and scientific actors. The purpose of the symposium could be questioned, due to the lack of an international audience, the switch from English to Korean during some presentations by Korean speakers, and the “artificial” discussions encouraged by KACCC actors. First, the majority of participants came from the two research institutes that had organized the workshop. For them and for the presenters from abroad, there were name tags but there was no official list of participants nor any possibility on the webpage to enroll in this workshop. In the end, it was an “in-house” event with a few external participants. The KACCC team had to report to the ME and took turns to write the minutes. The ones that were not in charge of writing the minutes either worked on other tasks at their computers or were otherwise occupied. Second, the official language was English but some Korean presenters switched to Korean, arguing that they could speak Korean better than English or that they wanted “to give the translator a little break”. So there were two presentations held in Korean. The audience did not complain since most of the listeners came from Korea. This point was interesting because it said something about the event: the official purpose of the sym-

Boosting Adaptation

posium was far from being achieved and the event turned into an internal meeting. Figure 23: Interviewing a Japanese researcher

Third, after each presentation and during the panel discussion questions from the audience were expected but there was no discussion. When it became clear that nobody wanted to ask a single question after the presentations, a KACCC researcher went to people he knew and asked them if they could pose certain questions, for example to the speaker from the US: “What governmental agencies and departments are actively shaping the process of adaptation in your country?” This was a question from the question catalogue. In this context, however, this question did not make any sense because there was no process of climate change adaptation in the US, as the speaker had said before. Similarly, one female KACCC researcher with good English skills was asked to pose the same question after the presentation on Australia. At the end of the program, questions for the panel discussion were canceled and the reason given by the organizers was that “we are behind schedule”. The request to discuss national adaptation strategies was ignored. Why then was such a meeting organized at all? The rationale behind the symposium was to present the Korean adaptation strategy and



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

to place it in the array of developed countries facing similar challenges in the adaptation process. The invitation of the speaker from the US showed the orientation towards economically high ranking countries. In this context, adaptation to climate change did not have to be boosted, given that all participants acknowledged it and the presenters stressed the significance of adaptation. The South Korean actors saw themselves as part of the community that values adaptation to climate change. The selection of the speakers showed the self-assurance of KACCC as an adaptation actor in the group of developed countries. Such self-positioning was crucial for the promotion of climate change adaptation in developing countries, an issue which will be discussed in the following section.

Boosting adaptation

Since its foundation KACCC has promoted international cooperations regarding climate change adaptation and, according to its recently established webpage11, has participated in major adaptation-related international events. The statement of the webpage was that South Korea worked closely with international partners including governments, IGOs and other adaptation institutions to enhance the adaptation capacity of Korea as well as of other countries, for example by “operating adaptation training courses for developing countries”. One example of such a connection was the “Regional Workshop on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation at the sub-national level” in Phuket, Thailand, that took place from August 25-27th, 2010. Participants were from six South-East Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Researchers from KACCC, among them Dr J. and K., flew to this workshop as “experts” next to UNEP and UNDP staff to give lectures on the effects of climate change, adaptation to climate change at the regional level and assessment of vulnerability, how to make comprehensive plans, and how to raise funds for climate change adaptation. In a report about this workshop from the ME, one could read:

11 |, January 15th, 2013.

Boosting Adaptation

“Based on the project to build partnership between Korea and ASEAN on adaptation to climate change, the Ministry of Environment plans first to understand each nation’s vulnerability to climate change and necessary technology. Also, it plans to pass down Korea’s technology for adaptation to climate change to nations which are vulnerable to climate change. An official from the Korea Adaptation Center for Climate Change said the workshop is expected to contribute to building close cooperation with ASEAN member nations for adaptation to climate change”12.

Asked about his impression and experiences of the workshop, after returning from Thailand, J. replied that the only country with an adaptation level comparable to that of South Korea, regarding institutional structures, was Indonesia. The other countries were in earlier stages of climate change adaptation. Finally, he said that South Korea wanted to lead the way and set a good example. In an earlier interview with the same KACCC researcher in May 2010, he argued that “we are making the adaptation plan for the Seoul Metropolitan Area (...) and after finishing the adaptation plan, we can distribute this kind of plan for the international and the local (levels)”.

Both the organization of an annual symposium at COEX and the participation in a teaching workshop in Thailand showed the interest of KACCC to connect to the global adaptation network and to spread its knowledge. Interestingly, the trip to Thailand, with a focus on teaching what adaptation is to governmental employees of other countries, coincided with the trip of another KACCC researcher to Australia and New Zealand for one week in August 2010. She visited Melbourne and Wellington to gain insights into the implementation of adaptation by local authorities. She had prepared a PowerPoint presentation for this trip in which she posed the question: “How can local governments adapt to climate change?” Her responsibility in the KACCC policy team was to compile a manual for local governments, and she wished to get inspiration from Australian and New Zealand case studies. In fall 2010, KACCC had not started to instruct local governments on how to realize adaptation strategies. In fact, KACCC 12 | ew_news, January 15th, 2013.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

policy team was still working on a manual and did not have any practical experience. However, the trip to Australia in August and the trip to Thailand in September happened within one month. They were evidence of a contradiction between the internal absence of implementation strategies on the local scale, and the external presentation of South Korea a country with the experience and ability to teach to others on the global scale. The self-representation of KACCC as a powerful implementation actor and its ambition to become the “world’s leading authority in climate change adaptation” (KACCC brochure) could be understood within a broader context where South Korea was readily described in the media as “a green nation copied by the world” (The Korean Herald, November 8th, 2010). Figure 24: Advertisement of the South Korean government

Source: The Korean Herald, 8.10.2010

In terms of environmental politics, this attitude is expressed by the former minister, Maanee Lee, who said that “in order to share Korea’s accumulated experiences and knowhow with developing countries, the Ministry will try to provide assistance for them to develop plans for environmental improvement” (Ecorea 2009: 2).

This is another example: “Through the 32nd IPCC session conference, Korea expressed itself to be working hard as a main prop within the international society framework to tackle the climate change. Without a doubt, it was a great opportunity for Korea to enhance awareness on the national vision of “Low Carbon Green Growth” for

Boosting Adaptation

the next 60 years, promoting itself as a leading nation in combating the climate change”. (Ecorea 2011: 131)

Recently, the development of Green Growth has turned from a nationally implemented program, albeit highly criticized, to a globally boosted economic paradigm. Due to the lack of internal approval by Korean society, the Green Growth focus of the Korean government has shifted from the scale of the state to a global scale. Since adaptation to climate change was one of the three pillars of Green Growth, the boosting of Green Growth was important for the question how knowledge on adaptation circulated and moved on.

Bridging developing and developed countries: Green Growth

It is often said that the 21st century is an Asian century. If this is so, it will be because the Asian countries succeed with their green growth transformation individually and jointly, and together become a leading force for the emerging green industrial revolution. Soogil Young, Ph.D., Chairman, Presidential Committee on Green Growth, April 201242

The key aspects of Green Growth have been described in a previous chapter. This section is on the political purpose of Green Growth, including adaptation to climate change in the context of South Korea’s foreign policy. The following quotations show the vision of Green Growth. One major aspect was the role that South Korea will play in the dissemination of Green Growth. At the Green Korea Conference in 2009 (September 9th), Kim Hyungkook, the Co-Chairmann of the Presidential Committee on Green Growth, said that “in order for Korea to continue to play a pivotal role in this century, we must make efforts to lead the way in green growth, by becoming an early mover toward this uncharted territory”.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Former president Lee Myung Bak, under whom Green Growth was launched, wrote: “All countries must find their unique strategy to achieve green growth. And because there is no clear map to follow, we must help each other as we go along. This is why I announced the creation of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to serve as a global “hub” of ideas, new technologies and policies for the green growth initiative. Drawing on our unique experience of having moved from being a beneficiary of international aid to becoming a major contributor of it, I believe Korea can play a meaningful role in helping the Institute bridge the divide between developed and developing countries on climate change” (Lee MB 2010: 8).

The GGGI was founded on June 16th, 2010. Its purpose was “dedicated to pioneering and diffusing a new paradigm of economic growth: green growth” (GGGI Brochure43, p. 1) and to support “developing and emerging countries in the design and implementation of green growth economic development plans at the national or provincial level” (GGGI Brochure, p. 3). The reason why South Korea was so well suited for this task, according to Tae-Yong Jung from the Green Growth Committee, is the fact that South Korea has had unique experience of economic development that has taken place so fast that elder generations still know what it was like in the old days (Green Korea 2010). Therefore, South Korea could serve as a model for countries following the path of economic development and environmental policy. The foundation of the GGGI had a particular significance for South Korea, as pointed out by Lee Myung Bak in a speech in October 2010: “Another feat that Korea can celebrate and deserves congratulations for is that the Global Green Growth Institute which it initiated has also been officially launched as an international organization. For a long time, Korea has largely worked through the international organizations that were created by other countries. But now, we have created one in which both industrialized and developing countries will be working together”13 .

13 | The 101st – Radio and Internet speech, http://www.greengrowth., January 23rd, 3013.

Boosting Adaptation

The South Korean government did see its country as the global leader in climate and development politics and the foundation of the GGGI was seen as an act of disentanglement from other developed countries. In a welcome speech on July 1st, 2010, at the Conference on Water Management for Adaptation to Climate Change and Promotion of Green Growth in the Asia-Pacific region, the former Minister of Environment, Maanee Lee, said: “As you may know, Korea is implementing the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, which aims at achieving green growth and, at the same time, responding to climate change. And we are confident that our Four Major Rivers Restoration Project will become a good example for solving various water issues around the world”14 .

The minister stressed the significance of Green Growth for the global community and argued that South Korea is acknowledged as a “green tiger”: “More recently, at the World Economic Forum on East Asia held in June, 2010, Korea was recognized as a “green tiger” leading global green growth. As such, the global community, including Asia, is acknowledging the country’s green growth model as a way to turn this economic crisis into an opportunity for development” (Korea Times, article: Korea initiating ”green wave’ worldwide, June 30th, 2010).

This rationale continued in 2011 under the new Minister of Environment, Yoo Young-Sook. In her inaugural speech, she said: “We also started to lead global green growth proposing the vision of Low Carbon, Green Growth. The successful hosting of various international environmental events raised our national status to an environmentally advanced country. (...) I will strive to undertake the important environmental policies such as Green Growth and Four Rivers Restoration Project, and I will do my best to play a

14 | ht tp:// =res_mat_speech¤tPage=1&searchType=&searchText=, January 23rd, 2013.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

leading role in international environmental conferences such as the COP 18 of the UNFCCC”15 .

On the basis of these quotations, but also with regard to the self-image of the KACCC, it was clear that the South Korean government was striving for a stronger position in global climate politics. Yun et al. explained that “(...) the administration sought to upgrade the ROK’s international image by positioning it as an “early mover” in the green economy transition, thus improving the ROK’s (Republic of Korea) brand value and positioning the ROK as a trusted mediator between developing and developed nations, building on its status as a (relatively) newly industrialized nation with strong economic links to both the developed and developing world” (2011: 3). The authors suspected that “it is possible that this change in the ROK’s position was influenced in part by the status of Ban Ki-moon as the Secretary General of the United Nations” (2011: 3): he began his term as UN Secretary General in January 2007. The orientation of the South Korean government towards developing countries was expressed for example by the panel “Policy and Capacity Building Support for Developing Countries” at the 2012 Global Green Growth Summit in Seoul. As explanation, it was noted in the conference proceedings: “History teaches that economic development is largely determined by sound policy instruments and institutions. However, many developing countries do not have ready access to adequate analytical expertise and institutional capacity to effectively plan and implement green growth strategies” (Global Green Growth Summit Brochure 2012: 15).

In sum, the South Korean government sought to play the mediator between advanced and developing countries. Due to its past, the government saw itself as a predestinated actor: “Korea is the only country that rose to a member of the G20 from a poverty-stricken nation in a matter of a generation. Many developing countries are benchmarking Korea as a role model. Furthermore, our nation is in the midst of 15 | ht tp:// =res_mat_speech¤tPage=1&searchType=&searchText=, January 23rd, 2013.

Boosting Adaptation

successfully overcoming environmental destruction caused by fast growth and development. Thanks to these experiences, the Republic of Korea has exercised great persuasive power in spreading the value of green growth to developing countries that are experiencing rapid growth. That is why Korea was supported at the recent meeting by many developing nations from Africa and Central and South America as well as Asia”16 (Lee Myung Bak).

The same argument was supported by Chun et al. in their study on South Korea’s ODA strategies: “Koreans are also very keen to enhance visibility and be proud of their success story. They want to expand its appeal by applying their own development experiences in the past to their current aid programme to developing countries. They believe that in this way Korea can make a unique contribution” (2010: 798).

Here, the argument was that the South Korean government tried to establish hegemony in the frame of environmental politics on a global scale by extending national politics to a larger political scale. The particular development of South Korea was taken as justification for the hegemonic claim. Eder explained that “as Korea has moved onto the international stage as an industrial power, it has sought to acquire legitimacy as an international partner through broader global participation” (1996: 20). Since climate change was a relatively important topic in international politics, the South Korean government has positioned itself in that regard. In practice, South Korean governmental actors, like the COP negotiating actors or KACCC researchers, carried their points. At the COP 16 in Copenhagen in 2009, the South Korean delegation pursued a strong claim for extensive GHG mitigation. The rationale was that although South Korea was not be legally obliged to follow a potential post-Kyoto protocol, it would accept the regulations for Annex-1 countries. The thought behind this was that the South Korean government saw itself on a level with Annex-1 countries which were all economically advanced countries. Another case was the abovementioned adaptation workshop for ASEAN countries in which KACCC took a leading role. Other more recent examples of the “success” of the South Korean hegemonic strategy were the co-organization of the COP 16 | The 101st – Radio and Internet speech, http://www.greengrowth., January 23rd, 3013.

2 19


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

18 in Doha and the election of Songdo, Incheon, as the seat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the UNFCCC in October 2012. The UNFCCC explained the South Korean success as follows: “The Republic of Korea has championed the concept of the green economy, which links green growth to sustainable development and poverty eradication, and will be a central issue under discussion at the Rio+20 summit to be held in June next year in Rio de Janeiro”17. The successful application of Songdo, South Korea, to become the seat of the GCF was another step in the South Korean strategy for the realization of hegemony. The GCF is designated as the actor for the financial mechanisms of the UNFCCC and it will play a key role in “channelling new, additional, adequate and predictable financial resources to developing countries and will catalyze climate finance, both public and private, at the international and national levels”18. The response from the South Korean side was very positive and almost frenetic. Limb Jae-un wrote on the Green Growth webpage that “this is a feat for Korea, as it beats out Bonn, Germany, in a coming-from-behind victory in a final vote of the fund’s 24-member board at the end of a threeday GCF meeting in Incheon on Friday, October 19. (...) Ten days before voting, five countries that had supported Germany turned to Korea, said Chief Secretary Kim Sang-hyup (...) in an interview. The United States, one of the most influential board members, came to support Korea at a critical stage. China, Japan, Mexico, and many South American and African countries including South Africa reportedly voted for Korea”19. The selection of Songdo was understood as an approval of the Green Growth strategy. Limb continued: “For the first time in history, Korea has emerged as a nation that takes the initiative in setting an agenda topic for humanity, which is well demonstrated by the selection of Korea as the host country of the GCF. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, extended congratulations, saying that she pins high expectations on

17 |, January 23rd, 2013. 18 |, November 8th, 2012. 19 |, January 23rd, 2013.

Boosting Adaptation

the successful interaction between Korea’s green growth vision and the GCF in the years to come”.

This chapter has highlighted the propagation of climate change adaptation and Green Growth by South Korean governmental actors. This propagation has led to neglect of the regional and local scales but to an extension of network activities on a global scale. The main argument is that there was a contradiction between the lack of internal implementation of adaptation strategies in sectors that have been identified as “vulnerable”, like agriculture, or the contested realization of adaptation plans, like the 4-river restoration project, and the external claim to be the “green tiger”. The international workshop, especially the choice of speakers, showed that South Korean governmental actors saw themselves on the same level as other advanced countries in relation to environmental politics. The concern for international cooperation and the orientation towards developed countries, although they were not always early movers in environmental politics, was evidence of this self-assurance. The claim of Green Growth as the leading economic paradigm reflected South Korea’s newly formed hegemonic claim in the international community that was concerned with the threat of climate change and economic development. On the basis of South Korea’s unique past, the claim to be the model actor for developing countries underlined the new self-image. Recent developments show that the strategy of the South Korean government to become a more powerful actor on the global scale has been successful. The strong emphasis on Green Growth, including climate change adaptation, in the international community, led by the South Korean example, can be understood as a translation of the concepts of green economy and climate policies on the part of the South Korean government. The content of a political agenda then becomes less important than the functionality of it: as a means to make politics.

22 1

Summary and Outlook

Summary and outlook

The five steps of translation – problematization, enrolement, interessement, mobilization, and propagation – of climate change adaptation, with the focus on a particular region, were presented in the previous chapters. In order to summarize this process, five of the six questions proposed by T. Cresswell (2010b: 22-26) in relation to mobility are here taken as cornerstones. These questions help to summarize the translation process. The question “How does it feel?” was eliminated because it focuses on the mobility of humans and their emotions, which is an aspect that is less important for the mobility of a political agenda.

Why does a person or thing move? This is a fundamental question about the mobility of political ideas. In the past few years, the adaptation agenda has developed into a political paradigm of how to cope with climate change. It has been explained that this agenda was seen as a crucial policy tool in climate politics in South Korea. Given the strong consensus in the international community regarding its importance (participation at COPs, IPCC reports) and the universal problematization of climate change, governments of many countries have started to implement specific adaptation plans. The South Korean government has acknowledged the threat of climate change, and founded KACCC in 2009 to foster the implementation of adaptation activities based on a variety of different justifications that sustain the legitimacy of the political decisions taken. These activities involved national actors in different ministries but also regional actors in Chuncheon and Inje. The idea of adaptation has “moved” in South Korea because of the political will of the South Korean government to initiate adaptation strategies.


Climate change adaptation in South Korea

In general, the adaptation agenda “moved” because it was acknowledged by political actors around the world as a solution to the problem of climate change.

How fast does a person or thing move? The frequency of scientific publications on climate change adaptation has accelerated since 2007. The political discourse in South Korea started in 2008 (publication of adaptation plans) and in 2009 KACCC was founded. Without being able to compare this application of the adaptation agenda to any other political concept, one can argue that in this case political decisions were taken in a relatively short time. For South Korean actors, especially on the national scale, the quick and effective implementation of adaptation policies was important. In what rhythm does a person or thing move? For Cresswell, rhythm is an important component of mobility at different scales. It describes the mobility of the idea in different parts of the network. This question is closely entangled with the following question:

What route does it take? It was a core concern of this study to understand the actors involved in the agricultural sector and the “route” taken during the implementation of adaptation. The starting point of this “route” was KACCC which suggested a one-directional movement from the national to the local scale. This assumption did not turn out to be realistic: a regional actor had already developed an adaptation plan for Gangwon Province before KACCC had finalized the NCCAMP. The regional plan was not accepted in the eyes of KACCC members. The cooperation between these two actors proved to be difficult and the disputes led to a postponement of the MOU. The cooperation between KACCC and other central actors, like RDA or MIFAFF, was characterized by time-efficiency, and in the agricultural sector this led to an absorption of the adaptation concept in the current development strategies due to pressure of time.

Summary and outlook

When and how does it stop? Cresswell argued that it is important to consider the failure of an idea as a potential outcome of the traveling process. The most important finding regarding the translation process in the agricultural sector was that there was hardly any implementation of agricultural projects in Gangwon Province (except with regard to roadside trees). Since Gangwon Province was already an early mover in the formulation of regional adaptation plans, one can assume that in general the implementation of adaptation projects in agriculture has been neglected, although this sector was very sensitive to climate change. Despite the lack of adaptation projects for farmers, they were aware of climate change and had their individual coping strategies which were partly supported by governmental subsidies. The questions was why did it stop there, or why did the adaptation concept fail in agriculture? First, the economic significance of agriculture for an advanced country like South Korea was low, and rural areas, especially Gangwon Province, were sparsely populated so that the focus of national actors was on vulnerable groups in the urban centers. Second, substantial efforts have been made in the implementation of Green Growth, which was classified as adaptation to climate change. These efforts were directed toward the industry and transportation sector, economic growth and increase of employment levels. Third, the implementation of adaptation in agricultural has failed not only because the priorities are set for the benefit of “green” economic growth but also in favor of the establishment of hegemony in environmental politics on a global scale.

R eflections In this section, the questions that were have been unanswered in the study as well as critical assessment of the research itself are addressed. First, this study focused on one particular question which was to examine the translation of the adaptation concept in the agricultural sector in South Korea. Affiliation with the TERRECO project determined the concern with the agricultural sector, which in retrospect was only a small slice of



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

the overall adaptation network in South Korea. This means that this study does not say much about adaptation to climate change in industry or in other sectors, such as health which has become very important in South Korea recently. The concentration on agriculture was, however, important for understanding how the government of an advanced country dealt with adaptation in the agricultural sector, which, in contrast to the South Korean case, is a high priority in developing countries. First, in the survey in Inje the researcher has concentrated on farmers who cultivated small plots with rice or dry-field crops, horticulture, or herbs. The domains of livestock, fisheries, and forest management were not included in the questionnaire, because it was assumed that they were of low significance for agriculture in Inje. For livestock and fisheries, this assumption turned out to be true; for example the statistics for 2011 (Gangwon Statistics 2011) show that in that year there were no cattle, chicken or turkey farms in Inje, although there were small numbers of rabbits, goats, ducks, geese, and bee colonies (pp. 200-201). For inland fisheries, there were only seven full-time fishers (p. 234). The aspect of forests was not given enough attention in the questionnaire, given that almost 40,000 hectares in Inje are privately owned forest areas. Table 14: Forest area in Inje County Category



National forest

117,298 ha

114,210 ha under Forest Administration; 3,088 ha under other authorities

Public forest

4,841 ha

793 ha owned by Province 4,048 ha owned by Counties

Privately owned forest 37,038 ha Total forest area

159,177 ha

Source: Gangwon Statistical Yearbook 2011: 214-215

Agricultural products of forest management were for example timber, fuel, wild fruits (almost 700,000 kg in 2010), mushrooms, medical herbs, and wild vegetable (1,2t in 2010, pp. 218-219). The problem was not that the

Summary and outlook

survey did not include farmers with forest areas, but that the management of forests was not explicitly included in the questions. Second, the traveling of the adaptation agenda, called propagation here, beyond the national to the global scale was observed but not analyzed in detailed. Participation at the workshop in Thailand was not possible and the empirical data stem from on interviews with KACCC participants and public documents. The boosterism of adaptation was a very important feature of the adaptation-network. The future activities of South Korean actors in relation to the establishment of the GCF revealed a continuation of adaptation boosterism, or new developments in respect of South Korea as an established actor in climate negotiations. Third, the close interrelation between the actors in South Korea and the researcher could raise questions regarding the role of the researcher and her influence in the network. At best, the researcher was able to stay “invisible” or in the background, but occasionally she was asked to do something that had the potential to influence the adaptation-network. For example, a KACCC actor wanted her to suggest a German speaker for the International Symposium, or to give a presentation on adaptation strategies in Europe. Sometimes, these requests fizzled out and they did not change anything, but some intervention did take place, like the presentation of European adaptation strategies. For the research, it was important to connect to the actors at work, and to observe and participate in their daily routines. The result was that, at some point, the researcher influenced the actors she was observing. Fourth, based on the ANT approach, it was possible to trace the important actors in the field and to gain insights into their position and activities in the network. The choice of ANT made it possible to apply a more ethnographic approach to the network of adaptation. The reason to favor this theory over other network approaches was the openness of ANT and the possibility of tracing single actors in particular institutions and understanding their role in the network in detail.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea


future of G angwon rur al province

P rovince : S cenarios

for a

Gangwon boasts its heavenly-blessed natural environment such as beautiful mountains, sea, river, valley, lake and natural cave. Gangwon Tourism Agency 1

This final section does not relate to the questions of this study in any narrow sense and therefore constitutes a slight break with the previous text. The results given above showed that agriculture in South Korea was in transition and that it was challenged in several ways. The main goal of the TERRECO project, the project with which this study was associated, was to provide scenarios, or potential development paths, for this region against the background of the project’s scientific results. The following discussion of scenarios shows one possible future development path of Gangwon, and reflects the perspective of a geographer who tries to include the relationship between Gangwon and other regions in South Korea. A major demographic characteristic of South Korea is its high proportion of urbanization. 1.5 million out of 48.6 million South Koreans live in Gangwon Province, by area the largest province in the country (16,874 sq. km). These are 3% of the whole South Korean population. Seoul, the capital city, has 9.8 million inhabitants and the neighboring Gyeonggi Province has 11.4 million (KOSIS Census 2010). The map shows the imbalance in demographic distribution in South Korea resulting from ruralurban migration. Gangwon Province has a mostly mountainous landscape covered with forests. This mountainous area, especially the Soyang watershed, is the source of the drinking-water supply for the Seoul metropolitan area. Up to this day, this major function of the region has resulted in legal limitations on economic development, especially for citizens in Chuncheon, the capital, especially restrictions in the building sector. Gangwon is the hinterland that provides a resource, water, for the capital city, so that from

1 |, 1.8.2013.

Summary and outlook

the perspective of the central government large areas of Gangwon were preserved as a natural habitat. A scenario that has already been marginally covered is climate change, in particular in the light of climate projections. Some farmers seemed to be better prepared for this scenario because they already included these expectations in their decisions today, for example, when a farmer planted Figure 25: Korean population size and density



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

vine, assuming the climate will become warmer. However, the future of agriculture in Inje and in Gangwon Province is a crucial question. The 2010 Census statistics show that since 2005, the number of farmers in Gangwon has stayed on an equal level (75,000-77,000) but that the share of full-time farmers decreased around 8.9% between 2005 and 2009. In contrast, the percentage of part-time farmers rose about 15% in the same period (Gangwon Statistical Yearbook 2011: 167). The trend shown by the statistics matches the impression of the survey carried out with farmers for this study. In response to the question how farmers saw agriculture in twenty years in Inje County, many answered that the number of farmers will further decrease and that the farmers left will be very old. According to Bishop et al. (2007), scenarios contain the stories of multiple futures and they are prepared because the future is uncertain and can take different development paths. There are many different types of scenarios, as Börjeson et al. point out (2006: 3). They differentiate between predictive, explorative, and normative scenarios. The latter are divided into preserving normative and transforming normative scenarios. The scenario presented in this section is the development of Gangwon into a touristic hub. Its goal is to preserve the environment, but to develop the region in economic terms, as well. This scenario is normative because it is based on the provincial policy plans “Gangwon 7+6” and “Double Income, Double Happiness, One Gangwon-do” from 20122 . The question is how this scenario is specified and what role agriculture plays in it. Tourism in the plan “Double Income, Double Happiness, One Gangwon-do” is addressed as follows: • • • • • •

Establish cornerstone for the successful hosting of the Winter Olympics and pursue local development strategy Construct support basis for Winter Olympic Games Pursue local development strategies in connection with the Winter Olympics(...) Foster province that is the center of global tourism and culture Establish tourism and resort hub of Northeast Asia Establish basis for cultural OlympicsSource: 2012 Gangwon Province, Provincial Core Policies – What we will do 2012: 3

2 |, 1_04_2.asp, February 8th, 2013.

Summary and outlook

The successful application for the Winter Olympics in 2018, which will be held in Pyeongchang, in the South of Gangwon Province, is in the focus of regional development: “With the successful bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, it has established a new cornerstone for the development of Gangwon-do, and the people are all doing their part and pitching in to realize this” (Gangwon Province 2012: 4). The “Gangwon 7+6” divides the province into seven “growth axes” and six “life zones”. The following points address the aspects of tourism: One-day business and recreation belt for the metropolitan area (referring to Seoul and Gyeonggi Province) around Jungang Expressway Axis between Chuncheon and Wonju • Serving as a main artery in the central inland area, which links the metropolitan area with the west, east, and south axes of the country. • Building a new city based on business, recreation, and innovation, and attracting the relocation of public institutions to the area to enhance its function as a stronghold. Industry, leisure sports, and tourism belt around Yeongdong Expressway Axis between Wonju and Gangnueng • Linking the east axis extending to Russia, Japan, and North Korea, with the west axis extending to the metropolitan area, Jeolla-do, North Korea, and China, and cooperating with the administrative complex city. • Developing a resort area covering all-season leisure sports, winter sports, industry, academics, and residence around Gangwon-do, including Chorwon, Chuncheon, Hongcheon, Hoengseong and Wonju, on the Yeongdong Expressway – the 3rd east-west axis of the National Intermodal Transportation Network. • Enhancing the logistics functions of the east and west axes, expanding the internationally recognized leisure sports infrastructure, i.e., the Winter Sports Valley, and building an innovative city that serves as an industrial stronghold. • Integrating the resort with winter sports, constructing a suburban style and pension housing complex, and linking the East Sea Rim axis with the present metropolitan area and the future metropolitan area after the construction of the administrative complex city.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Highland tourism and resort belt around the abandoned mining area • Linking the administrative complex city and the east axis extending to Russia, North Korea, and Japan. • Developing the resort in the abandoned mines area and the natural environment around the 4th east-west axis of the National Intermodal Transportation Network that links Pyeongtaek, Eumseong, Yeongwol, and Samcheok. East Sea Rim logistics and tourism belt along the east coast • Serving as a gate that links Korea with Russia, North Korea, and Japan along the east coast. • Developing the marine and tourism industries along the 7th northsouth axis of the National Intermodal Transportation Network and promoting a new marine industry integrating marine resources with the high-tech industry. • Expanding the north-south traffic networks, including airports and harbors, and enhancing logistics and tourism in the East Sea Rim. • Fully utilizing Yangyang International Airport, revitalizing the Geumgangsan (Mt.) Tour, developing the Seoraksan-Geumgansan International Free Tourism Zone and the Donghae Free Trade Zone, offering tourists culture and tourism experiences, and promoting the “Making the East Coast Beautiful Project. Clean industry and recreation belt around the Dongseo Expressway Axis between Chuncheon and Yangyang • A center for Gangwon-do’s administration effectively linking the metropolitan area with the east axis. • Developing extensive water resources, mountain resources, and clean industries, and enhancing the clean and recreational function of the metropolitan area to attract the relocation of public institutions that are presently settled in the metropolitan area. • Building a brand city with an environmentally-friendly lake around Chuncheon, an adventure and leisure sports city around Inje, and a logistics and exchange stronghold around Yangyang.

Summary and outlook

Ecology, forest and recreation belt around Baekdudaegan • Utilizing the ecological potential of Baekdudaegan, a so-called geographical barrier to connecting the eastern and western parts of the country in Gangwon-do. • Developing the area as a stronghold for nature and ecology tourism. • Activating green tourism, creating a new concept where mountain villages integrate agriculture and fisheries with tourism, and promoting projects that preserve the environment. Source:, February 11th, 2013

The two development programs (7+6 Plan, and “Double income,...”) show the ambitions of normative regional scenarios in Gangwon Province. Interestingly, climate change is not mentioned in these strategy programs, although tourism, in particular winter tourism, could be highly influenced by changing climates. A core concern of the planners is to link Gangwon Province to economic growth regions in South Korea, most notably the Seoul Metropolitan Area, but also to the economic logistics network in East Asia. The goal of this scenario is economic development in term of rise in individual income and GRDP. The overall target of economic development for 2012 was a 3.2% growth rate. The regional actors stress a “balanced development”, that is an even consideration of all counties in the province. The emphasis on balanced development can be understood as a reaction to the national’s uneven economic development strategies, which did not consider Gangwon Province as a focus of economic development but as a provider of resources for the densely populated regions. A major element in the tourism scenario is the economic potential of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018. The organizers of the Winter Olympics see this mega-event as a “catalyst for the development of Gangwon-do” (2012 Gangwon Province – What we will do 2012: 5), which will help to establish Gangwon Province as “the sports hub of Asia” (ibid.). However, the economic effects of such mega-events are hard to quantify. With regard to Sochi, the Winter Olympic venue in 2014, Müller argues that it is challenging to separate the incremental effects created through mega-events and compare them to a hypothetical baseline scenario. This would be the reason why many ex-ante estimates turn out to be seriously



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

exaggerated when compared to ex-post studies (Müller 2009: 193). The organizers expect a “return of actual profit for the community” and speak therefore of “profitable Olympics” which will spread positive economic effects to other regions as well (2012 Gangwon Province – What we will do 2012: 5). In this scenario, the Winter Olympics have not only an economic dimension, but also a political one as “Olympics of Peace” that will “contribute to improve North-South Korean relations and peace in the Korean peninsula” (2012 Gangwon Province – What we will do 2012: 5). The preparations for the Olympics are combined with expanding infrastructure, like the highway 60 and the Gyeongchun Line from Sangbong, in Seoul, to Chuncheon. The renovation of this railway was finished in December 2010; and it reduced the travel time between these two cities from two hours to 89 minutes and increased the passenger capacity fivefold. The hosting of the Winter Olympics is embedded in a more general development of Gangwon Province into a tourist destination. The Yeongdong Expressway Axis will be developed into a tourist area for winter sports, in the Baekdudaegan Axis “green tourism” will be launched with mountain villages in which agriculture can be experienced, and at the East Sea Rim Axis the focus is on beach tourism. Besides developments in the tourism sector, the economic focus is on the promotion of small and medium businesses. The goal is to create 44,000 new jobs in 2012, especially in potential growth industries, for example bio industry, medical instruments, and materials industry: “We have established the foundation for the advanced materials industry that will lead the next-generation growth engine and we are focusing on improving the image of green growth, Green Gangwon” (2012 Gangwon Province – What we will do 2012: 12).

The Green Growth national strategy has effected regional development planning. Part of the growth strategy regarding industries is the designation of “Free Economic Zones” in Gangwon in Gangneung, Donghae, and Samcheok from 2012-2023.

Summary and outlook

Table 15: Overview of East Coast Region Free Economic Zone Area


Gujeong Residential Carbon Zero City (1.11 sq. km)

Establish low carbon, green residential environment for foreigners, logistics industry, international school, hospital

Okgye Advanced Parts Fusion Industry District (2.19 sq. km)

Foster advanced materials fusion industry such as magnesium and lithium production

Mangsang, Haemulgeum District (2.37 sq. km)

Marine tourism and leisure complex, Pan-East Coast international rest and therapy complex

Bukpyeong IC (international integration industry) district (9.24 sq. km)

Foster ferroalloy and nonferrous metals industry, Pan-East Coast Trade Center, complex exclusively for Japanese companies

Geundeok Environment-Friendly Energy and Materials Industry District (1.01 sq. km)

Flame-resistant materials, specialize in energy and materials industries, foster hydrogen-storing alloys industries

Source: 2012 Gangwon Province – What we will do 2012: 21

Based on the two Gangwon strategies, economic growth will be realized through developments in tourism and certain industrial sectors. The question now is what role does agriculture play in the future of Gangwon? Over the last decades, the share of agriculture in the GRDP has continually decreased, and it is probable that the economic significance of this sector will decrease more in the future, leveling out at 2-5%. An indicator of this trend is the tendency towards part-time farming, the demographic structure of the farm population, and the lack of farm successors. The strategy for agriculture named in the “Double Income, Double Happiness, One Gangwon” program is “continuously increasing income of farming families” (p. 13). This is supposed to be achieved through the opening of farms to tourism (for example “green farming experience village, forest paths”, p. 13), specialized regional farm products (environment-friendly farming, branding of regional beef), and particular products, like high quality ginseng and medical herbs.



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

The normative scenario of tourism is promoted by the Gangwon government with buzz words like “green tourism” and “health tourism”; the official slogan is “Gangwon – a place where you can always meet beautiful nature”3. The legal restrictions regarding water and forest management, which prevented a strong economic development for many years, may now be the base on which the tourism sector can develop. This opinion was expressed by C. and several actors in the regional government. The development of Gangwon into a tourist destination has already started with the construction of a highway between Hongcheon and Yangyang on the East coast. This means that citizens from Seoul or Gyeonggi Province can travel faster to the regions of Gangwon. For many years, the railroad and highway infrastructure were concentrated between Seoul and Busan. Besides the highway, Chuncheon and Seoul are now better connected with a new metro line. Clearly, the improved infrastructure serves quicker accessibility of the province and Seoul. An ATC officer in Inje County, when asked if the new highway would have any influence on agriculture, for example on the distribution and selling of agricultural products, negated this. Given that Gangwon is not an industrial center in South Korea, one can consider the infrastructure projects as a kick-off for more tourism. One particular development in Gangwon’s tourism is the building of golf courses, because golf has become a popular sport for middle and upper class Koreans in recent years, and because the densely populated cities leave little space for large golf courses. The tendency is to provide golf courses in Gangwon that are accessible within one or two hours for people from Seoul or Gyeonggi. C. from CRIK estimated that in Hongcheon County between 20 and 30 golf course projects have received a building permit. He explained that “in order to offer golf for Seoul citizens, they build the highway and the golf courses”. Most of the golf course developers are investors from Seoul or Gyeonggi because “Gangwon people don’t have money”, so that most of the capital for civil engineering and construction work comes from outside the province. The investments may be positive for the development of Gangwon but the biggest share of this capital will flow back to the metropolitan area: “Almost all of it, you may think of more than 90% will go back.”

3 |, January 7th, 2013.

Summary and outlook

Figure 26: Touristic assets in Gangwon

This is why he assessed this economic potential not as a good development strategy for Gangwon Province, but as “problematic”. The next figure shows how the gap between economic development in the metropolitan area, Seoul and Gyeonggi, and in Gangwon has widened since 1985. The Gross Value Added is an economic measurement of the value of the goods and services produced in an area. While Seoul and Gyeonggi Province have gained great economic strength in recent decades, the economic trend in Gangwon Province is only slightly positive. The development of tourism is not yet reflected itself in the statistics. The categories “accommodation and restaurants” (숙박 및 음식점업) and “art, sports, leisure” (예술,스포츠,여가관련) only account for 6.8% of the Gross Regional Domestic Product in Gangwon Province (KOSIS 2012). This share will probably increase with the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in 2018. In contrast to this expected tourism upswing, the significance of agriculture in the region has declined. The share of agriculture in the GVA in Gangwon Province has decreased from 18.84% (1985) to 6.14% in 2010 (KOSIS 2012).



Climate change adaptation in South Korea

Figure 27: Gross Value Added of Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, and Gangwon Province

Source: KOSIS

The forest and water regulations that kept the ecosystems untouched for decades, are turning out to be a positive factor for the development of tourism in the area. However, this development is being carried out by investments from the metropolitan area, given the lack of local investments. As Figure 26 shows, the metropolitan area, Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, has developed economically much more strongly over the last 25 years resulting in environmental pollution (e.g. the air quality) and a higher building density due to processes of urbanization. “Seoul and Gyeonggi will keep developing and Gangwon will stay environmentally clean in the next years”, according to C. In ten years, he said, “the situation will reverse in our favor”, thus stressing the potential of Gangwon as an environmentally attractive area, yet “the problem is the people who are living in the present”. These people are, for example farmers, who work under difficult conditions and can barely make a living. The problem is that traditional farming on small plots as the major source of income of the rural population is outdated in the light of the global trade in agricultural products. The example of Gangwon cannot not necessarily serve as a blueprint for the situation of other provinces in South Korea. North Gyoengsang receives more attention than other low populated provinces, for example support for a medical complex city, because some of the major politicians in the past and present came from this region, including former president Park Chung-Hee, current president Lee Myung-Bak, as well as Park Geun-Hye, Park Chung-Hee’s daughter, who ran for president in Decem-

Summary and outlook

ber 2012. Since many politicians come from that area, it receives much attention in regional development plans. In the case of Gangwon, the combination of large area and low population together with the stronger focus on other rural areas, has resulted in a neglect of Gangwon Province in terms of economic development. The conception of Gangwon Province as an environmentally clean space put aside for the provision of drinking water and future tourism has led to development decisions by the central government that are based on the requirements of the population in the central metropolitan area and are not concerned with the adjustment of regional disparities in South Korea. The normative scenarios of regional governmental actors regarding tourism and “green” industrial development seem to be a suitable path for the development of a province that was subject to strong environmental regulations and now has “clean nature” as its biggest asset. However, this prospect does not seem promising for all including some farmers who will no longer be able to cope with the new economic developments. Recalling the words of C. from Gangwon, this tension becomes obvious: “Seoul and Gyeonggi will keep developing and Gangwon will stay environmentally clean in the next years. In 10 years, the situation will reverse in our favor yet the problem is the people who are living in the present.”


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Climate change adaptation in South Korea

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