Tigers in the Korean DMZ?

Snipped from Bruce Sterling's Viridian Design email newsletter, a New York Times story about wild animals reclaiming the heavily-landmined DMZ that divides North and South Korea.

[E]nvironmentalists have recognized this area one of the most enduring symbols of the cold war and one of the most fortified and heavily mined stretches on earth as the Korean peninsula's, and possibly East Asia's, most important wildlife refuge. They have been pressing to preserve it but are feeling a special urgency now because of the growing reconciliation between the North and the South. The environmentalists fear that a South Korea that puts economic development first and a North Korea that has no environmental movement could together lead to the zone's rapid destruction as a refuge. (..)

"The DMZ is the last major vestige of Korea's natural heritage," said Kim Ke Chung, a professor at the Center for BioDiversity Research at Penn State and chairman of the DMZ Forum, an organization based in the United States that is dedicated to preserving the zone. "It's probably the only good thing to come out of the Korean War and cold war. So we have to preserve this as a nature reserve." [Bruce Sterling says: "How did the Cold War become the 'cold war' all of a sudden?]

The DMZ Forum recently held a conference in Seoul to gather support for designating the zone a Unesco World Heritage Site, a classification that would curb all development. William B. Shore, secretary of the forum and a former fellow at the Regional Plan Association of New York, said the zone should become a center for eco-tourism as an alternative to turning it into a weekend getaway for residents of Seoul.

"People are now willing to pay large sums to see wild animals in the proper setting," Mr. Shore said. "Eco-tourism would protect the DMZ from becoming the Hamptons of South Korea." [Bruce Sterling says: "Perhaps it's possible to transform the Hamptons into a DMZ."]

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