North korea permaculture

Discussion in 'Jobs, projects, courses, training, WWOOFing, volun' started by jimineenz, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    Having lived in South Korea for two years I have learnt a lot about North Korea. In fact it has become a minor obsession of mine. The things I have learnt, however, I did not learn from the mainstream media. Quite opposite to what you hear on the evening news, I forward that the country is barely a threat to the outside world. Any danger that North Korea appears to pose is simply political rhetoric implemented by the Government of North Korea for the survival of the regime. Further, it is continually exaggerated and exacerbated by the US government and media. During the recent ‘missile crisis’ life went on as usual here in South Korea. The issue was barely discussed. The South Korean people understand that the North uses words and very little else – they have very little else. This has been the situation for a long time. Any unpartisan view of the history of the Korean War, North Korea and its relations with the outside world deem such a view accurate. I would also suggest that it takes two to tango – and the US is proficient in such a dance.

    In fact, North Korea is in desperate need of help. Unfortunately, the ‘help’ that the US offers is often far from constructive. As we have seen throughout the Middle East (and many other regions of the world for that matter), you cannot liberate a people by invading and bombing their homes and infrastructure to dust. War only cripples a poor people further. And more specifically in the North Korean situation, China and South Korea cannot afford to integrate the refugees that a political turnover would create. Imagine a sudden, mass exodus of 25 million people into South Korea and China. Likewise, imagine South Korean corporations like Hyundai and Samsung accepting the North Korean economy under the blanket of Korean Won. My interpretation is that the US for the most part maintains North Korea as a ‘live’ enemy simply as a means to legitimize its ever-expanding (and frankly, imperial) military footholds in South Korea, Japan and Guam. Unfortunately, amidst the war mongering, the media tends to ignore the immediate suffering of the people. Human rights abuses are only highlighted as a means to defend hostility toward the North. Helping the average North Korean should be the world’s primary concern. I understand some of these statements are sweeping and potentially debatable – but my intention is to set the scene for what I will say next.

    Regardless of your political stance to the issue we can all agree that first of all, before any political or military action, the people of North Korea need help. The conditions of life for the average North Korean is appalling. North Korea first and foremost needs the means to survive; a means that will withstand an aid embargo, drought or monsoon. That means food. Currently the poor survive largely on international aid and a shaky black-market with China – when an embargo is enforced they starve to death. Whilst stopping aid as a means of political pressure is something tossed about by Governments not directly affected, real people are starving and suffering through lack of food and medical care. The refusal of aid to North Korea is knowingly allowing the deaths of many, and is unacceptable, no matter if their Government is a supposed (perceived) threat. The population’s health and in fact their lives, should not be used as a tool of political force. See the ‘arduous march’ of the 1990’s when the soviet bloc fell and China likewise turned its back on the country. Some estimate three million people died in the space of 6 years. Famine however has never been far from the lives of ordinary North Koreans and similar tragedies have occurred continually during the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century. Their food supply is unstable at the best of times.

    I suggest that only after the people can feed themselves will an environment for real political change come about. What is not often mentioned in western media is the talk of reunification being a real possibility between the North and South, not in an instant, but something of a goal to work towards over the coming years. This is positive rhetoric that I hear often from South Koreans. It is as simple as give a little, get a little. South – North Korean diplomacy over the years had demonstrated that this is the case. Unfortunately, military confrontations – often from outside of South Korea’s control - damage these relationships.

    The answer, I suggest, could lie in Permaculture. Permaculture is perfect for North Korea. Why? It is a gift that can be given directly to the people. The Government cannot take Permaculture and spend it on arms. The biggest complaint of countries that give aid to North Korea is that ‘it never gets to the people who need it’. Permaculture, however, is a tool that once given to the people cannot be taken back. Furthermore, if the individual North Korean people can reduce their dependency on the state through Permaculture – that is, creating their own food supply outside of the regime’s control – their ability to challenge the Government will increase. Once given to the people, Permaculture needs nothing to survive. No inputs, no dependency on fertilizer from China and South Korea and no need for oil. Permaculture could give these people the means to survive without being reliant on the uncertainty of international aid. In fact the notion of self sufficiency that underpins Permaculture likewise is the foundation of the North Korean ‘Juche’ philosophy.

    Regardless of your political leanings and your objections to the North Korean regime, they deserve to enter the free market on their own terms. Sometimes I wish my own country was more of a hermit when it comes to signing away our assets and resources to the world market. So too have many countries around the world become slaves to those whose administer the ‘free market’ upon them. By supporting a self sufficient food market within the country, Permaculture may give the North Korean government the ability to enter the world community on its own terms, a right every country deserves. After all, they fought an extremely bloody war to secure this right. Until North Korea is able to enter the world community in such a mutual way it is impossible to discuss, let alone improve, human rights standards within the country. The gift of Permaculture education to the Korean people may act as a catalyst for wider exchanges between North Korea and the outside world – peaceful and constructive exchanges.

    So maybe you are thinking, ‘isn’t it impossible to go to North Korea?” That is not the case. If the North Korean Government deems something beneficial to their country the border magically opens. For instance, aid workers, journalists, engineers, diplomats, tourists, businessmen and even hikers have found their way into the hermit kingdom when their purpose was deemed useful, or even just harmless. Not to mention the massive South Korean industrial complex at Kaesong. I think that the North Korean government could be convinced to allow Permaculture teachers to enter the country. However, they would need to be thoroughly swayed toward the value of Permaculture and done so in a way that was diplomatically delicate and respectful. Tricky maybe, but certainly not impossible. I for one am up for giving it a crack! I think Permaculture can sell itself (even to the most stalwart of communists...). And while Permaculture could help North Korea, worldwide Permaculture itself stands to benefit from such an exchange. If successful, North Korea could offer a highly publicized (no doubt) example of vital Permaculture to the wider world (think Cuba).

    What we will need is a collection of skilled people willing to join such a project. People who understand diplomacy and communication (and I suggest an understanding of Korean culture is important also); Permaculture experts of course (of which I am not) – especially those with experience in climates such as North Korea; Korean translators – crucial (my beginner Korean with not suffice beyond pleasantries unfortunately); those who can source money or some sort of scholarship/funding for such a project; and no doubt other areas of expertise will be needed as well.

    At present, this is no more than an idea spinning around in my head. But up there it is useless. Let’s talk about it and see what happens…

    Thank you,

    James
     
  2. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Jimi, welcome to the PRI Forum. I must say, straight off the bat, yours is one of the more interesting introductions I have read in a long time. As such, thanks very much for sharing. It is obviously something that you have given much time and energy to observing the situation and formulating ideas about. Without going in to too much detail at this stage, I think - as I do with any intentional foray into community planning and development - that the best way to envision the DPRK's future, is to thoroughly study their past. One such aspect of which, is the more recent development and practice of juche. Now, I've only read very little on this political ideology, but it seems to me that it could serve as a very good platform for the introduction of the essence of permaculture. At a quick glance, I see juche as an extremely anthropocentic and dictatorial version of bioregionalism. Perhaps permaculture could come in and help to soften juche's sociological side and thus bring it more into line with its ecological side? One other thing that I think is critical to your cause, is that you find 'champion' in the DPRK. Someone who is willing, and probably more importantly, able to champion the ideals of permaculture to the people in power. Ultimately, what the best scenario would be, is that your champion has the ear of Kim Jong-un. Oh, and one last thing, I think you are definitely right about learning the language - for to know one's language, is to go a long way towards knowing one's culture. Maybe a DPRK-translated version of 'the essence' (previously linked to) would go a long way to helping cross-cultural relations, too? Well, that's my first thoughts on the matter. I look forward to learning more. Cheerio, Markos.
     
  3. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    Where do you manage to get all this amazing stuff from Markos? Your reading pile must be massive!
     
  4. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Indeed, it is! Most nights I only sleep for about 4-hours.
     
  5. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    reply to mark

    Markos, thank you for the welcome. I am happy to land with a splash!!
    Frankly though, this is quite a new idea for me. I am not an expert on North Korea (although maybe i know more than many) and I am certainly not an expert on Permaculture - but i see the two as compatible. I really am relying on the help of others. Yours is a great start!

    Having read the attached documents you suggested - i agree. Any proposal should focus on aligning juche philosophy and that of permaculture. Its ceratinly a doable task. We are lucky in that the two seem such a good pair.
    Having said that, i suggest in reality the DPRK are pragmatic to a point that can offend pure juche philosophy. Many actions they have taken suggest this (even if their rhetoric continues to reaffirm a purist version of juche) So to appeal to this instinct - any proposal should also contain examples of permaculture projects. Show them what they actually stand to gain. Directly - philosophy aside.

    But ultimately a combination of philosophy and evidence would be included.

    You are right in the need for a champion - how to find that champion is the question. A south Korean will not do - because they will not be welcome. A defector of course will not take the job either. So it really needs to be an outsider.

    I include my friends email to me on the topic. He is not on the forum yet but i hope he gets on. He knows a lot about Korean culture and is passionate about permaculture:

    "Nice, might rustle up a few troops - have been reading about a few ngo's that have started operating in the north. There's a Swiss one that promotes organic farming who have done a bit but they seem to meet a lot of the frustrations other do - certain model areas or very slow implementation. They also do a bit of agroforestry I think. Interesting though. The other issue is the way they deal with excess produce - it's not always a case of sell the excess for an individual family,rather then give to the State, but regardless if everyone is producing shiteloads of food it can only be good. I tend to forget that obviously Koreans have a few farming skills as they would've had to subsist and use everything they could get to try and feed themselves. I reckon, only speculating that it could happen by way of a model farm somewhere that becomes the local centre - much like Geoff Lawton proposes. Would definitely need a skilled practitioner. Another way in could through the NZ-DPRK Friendship Society, they have a farm in DPRK which would be awesome if it could be converted! Or even a few methods introduced. The other barrier I think of is getting away from the need to produce the staples like rice and grain with a more mixed food landscape - the classic fertilisation and soil mining to increase production. But mate - permaculture solves everything hahaha - I'm on board, just takes time to build up experience! I would totally live there on the scene!"

    He notes some important things. there are such projects already - maybe it is possible to join these projects under the banner of permaculture. Or at least, learn from them. How did they get there? I have asked him for websites. So maybe a way to get an initial look into NK is through NGO's. And i suggest by building a relationship with NK embassies. This would remove the language barrier - but of course the proposal should be in Korean (North Korean that is - which is actually significantly different than the Southern version. Completely lacking the Konglish and other adoptions which are littereded through the language.) But these problems are defeat-able i think...

    thoughts?
     
  6. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    "I tend to forget that obviously Koreans have a few farming skills as they would've had to subsist and use everything they could get to try and feed themselves. I reckon, only speculating that it could happen by way of a model farm somewhere that becomes the local centre - much like Geoff Lawton proposes. Would definitely need a skilled practitioner. "
    Again - a good point from my friend - any project like this would need experience of Korean farming techniques. Obviously the more these traditional techniques are included, the easier any new system would be to sell to students.
     
  7. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Robinia P/acacia is popular in s korea
    as are Acorns iv had the bland jelly stuff they make from them (korean woofers)
    im sure permaculture would work there! Ill go! Can i bring the missus and 1 child!
    what is the climate ?cool/cold temperate?
     
  8. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Hey Jimi

    Concerning juche (and NK in general): I've just read Hitchens' (2010) critique, and upon doing so, my estimation of the NK people has gone up, and Hitchens down. But I'm loath to speak ill of the dead, so I'll refrain from writing any more about that particular article. Suffice to say, I have been meaning to get around to reading (and have just now added it to my wishlist) Myers (2010) The Cleanest Race. Have you?

    Sure, I imagine that it is pretty hard to follow the juche as gospel when one's belly is empty, and I agree that the people of NK seem to be a very pragmatic lot. As such, I reckon they could take it or leave it pretty well much if something better came along, and pretty quickly, too. Of course, this does not mean I think it wise to go racing in with the permaculture flag flying. Indeed, it may even be prudent to call it something other than permaculture in the first instance, in favour of something more vernacular and juche-like. I'm a big fan of 'permaculture by stealth' - sometimes you have to hold your cards close and keep a poker face early on in the process.

    I've worked, studied and traveled with quite a few SK people, and have always found them to be polite to the point of painfulness. However, whenever the topic of NK came up in conversation, My SK friends deftly - without exception - always changed the subject. You might have guessed by now that I have a mild interest in NK, and its people.

    In terms of finding a champion: In addition to what you have already come up with, this recent (April 2013) TRF article suggests the last country NK asked for 'food aid' from was Mongolia. Perhaps that's a way in? Also, the article lists other 'low key' NGOs that apparently have favour with NK. Although, I'd be a little reluctant to align myself with anyone other than a purely secular organisation/s. I think the people of NK have enough to deal with without being dumped on by someone else's ideology.

    Food - the growing, preparing, cooking and eating of it - is a great leveller/unifier. I reckon you are on a winner with it. Trust will be the big hurdle, however. It's going to take a long time to earn it, and one stupid mistake... well, i don't need to tell you what could happen.

    That's it from me, for now.

    Peace, M
     
  9. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    My personal fantasy about Markos is that there is more than one of him! (a team of em) in a Bendigo bunker
    Markos i have an apology ;;;;; I suggested there was red ceder in your bott garden i lied it is in Albury bott garden ,why doesnt evryone grow it down that way??
    Hoooray!
     
  10. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    You could be right Andrew....
     
  11. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    To quote my friend again - asked him where he heard about the farms already there...

    "Haha that's me with too much time and some deep google trawling - I just type stuff like organic farming NK, agriculture, food production in NK and you find some good articles. Yeah no worries putting my comments on - I'll join that forum. I really think learning the language is crucial too - just for ease of communication. Funny that I also read somewhere that if a foreigner can speak Korean they are treated more cautiously due to obvious chance to converse and spread news of the world - who knows. I was tossing up moving to Yanji in China for a while to pick up the NK dialect as there's lots of NKoreans around those border towns too.

    https://www.timbeal.net.nz/geopolitics/
    https://sites.google.com/site/nzdprksociety/nz-friendship-farm

    Two info-loaded websites - reading over the NZ farm it sounds like they already have quite a good operation running.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100827082328.htm"

    There is a DPRK friendship organisation - a worldwide one - as well as some national ones (nz for instance) who seek to help NK and give their issues some air. maybe worth approaching.

    Maybe best place is to start is to create a proposal. Fine tune it - then have it translated. Then we would have something to show people as an introduction.

    I wonder if people on this forum have proposals used for projects in other countries that could be useful when making this one??? I am talking perrmaculture introductions/summaries, success stories, plans for model farms and teaching programs?? let me know if you can help.

    Markos will get back to you shortly.

    James
     
  12. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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  13. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    Frankly i think Hitchens is a wanker... I always wonder if those that speculate about others world views in such a nasty way ever stop and consider what makes up their own world view. In my opinion the modern media-addicted consumer capitalist is just as brainwashed as the average North Korea - albeit with quite a different outcome. And of course our masters are somewhat different.

    Anyway, regardless of all that speculation - it doesn't help anyone. Hopefully, we can look at ideas here with a potential to actually do some good. Not just throw around the biggest words we know to belittle further a country of starving men, women and children...

    The cleanest race looks interesting - but i haven't read it. Check out Demmicks "Nothing to Envy" - i really enjoyed that. Actually saw a bbc documentary the other day about the American soldiers who defected to NK during the end of the Korean War. Really interesting. "crossing the line" - get you hands on it. having lived in South Korea it is quite funny too. You can see this massive old american guy who has little North Korean fishing buddies. Not something you see here in the south. Nice plot twist at the end too actually. Highly recommend it.

    Check out the links my friends mentioned - the swiss agroforestry one was news to me.

    Everybody please keep sharing information

    I hope this brainstorm will hep organise some ideas - then this project can really kick off.
     
  14. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day James

    I tend to agree with you re: Hitchens, and yes, he was merely a reflection of the broader warped mirror that is our global construct.

    I'll add Demick to my reading list; looks interesting.

    Thanks for the other links, too; a lot of reading there! I'll try to get around to it in due course.

    That agroforestry project looks like a goer.

    I watched the following (part 1/7) video series recently; I'm still not sure what to make of at (although I did appreciate the frankness and honesty of the presenter, and the people he met/interviewed):

    [video=youtube;awQDLoOnkdI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awQDLoOnkdI[/video]

    Cheerio, must get back to the books, Markos.
     
  15. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    I like the Vice video. Quite funny! anyway - it seems that there is not that much advice for this topic floating around on this forum. I really need help from those who have had experience launching projects somewhat similar to this. How they go about introducing a project of this type etc etc. Where else could i bring up the topic?
     
  16. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    Hey James, herein lies the rub; there is just not that many examples of permaculture breaking into oppressive regimes around the world. It's up to us, Jimmy. We have to write the text book. I know you are in a hurry, and that is a good and noble thing, but sometimes these things just take time. Hang in there. And please return here as often as you like. Now that you have put 'permaculture in the DPRK' on the radar, responses will come in. I wouldn't expect a flood, more like a trickle. But sometimes it's the quality of the information/experience that is important, rather than the quantity. Kind regards, Markos.
     
  17. jimineenz

    jimineenz Junior Member

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    Cheers Markos - that's is good advice. I will do.
     

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