I imagine the K-Village era.
-21st century Genghis Khan to communicate with the global village through cultural power
1. The true essence of Korean Wave, ‘sharing experience’
When I was walking down winter road outside of Calcutta, India, the window of a familiar Korean brand white car opened. The driver greeted me in Korean. He saw SOUTH KOREA written on my body-placard and backpack. He got out of the car and introduced himself as a construction worker in Korea for five years. He said that he is now working in sewerage business in India. He boasted that the business was thriving.
When I was walking in Vietnam before that Indian event, I met someone who worked as a furniture maker in Korea and is running a furniture manufacturing business after returning home country. I was invited to his house and was welcomed to dinner. In Thailand, I entered a restaurant which was run by locals who had learned to cook Korean food in Seoul. The restaurant was so successful that it was filled with customers.
These cases of meeting people who have been to Korea while I walked 20 countries since I left Seoul in spring 2017, deserve to be called ‘experience sharing Korean Wave.’
On the other hand, we hear about cases of Koreans who went directly into foreign business and shared something with locals. There is a person who went to Mongolia to give lecture on administrative experience after retiring from the head of Urban Planning Bureau in district office of Seoul. In other case, my senior professor went to Cambodia to teach civil engineering as a volunteer after retiring from the civil engineering department of my university.
A recent case that impressed me is the story of Solar Cow, which won an invention award sponsored by weekly magazine Times, two years ago. YOLK, a young Korean startup solar power company, developed and distributed a recharging device to help African children go to school. Nowadays mobile phones are found everywhere even in Africa. Electricity supply for recharging cell phones was not working properly, however. YOLK built recharging facility at African schools. When children go to school and study during daytime, they recharge the device and take it home to recharge their parents’ cell phones and serve as a lamp at the same time. That’s the reason why the children began to gather at school. When you go to school you learn to read, write, and do arithmetic while making friends and sharing your experience of group activity. This is not a small event. The capacity of society as a whole will increase and positive changes may be expected. It is an activity in public level, which goes far beyond economic activity.
There is another genre of sharing Korean Wave experience. It is a democratic experience. Its contribution to mankind is no less than economic growth model. In particular, there is a story made by Korean civil society in the process of democratization. It has meaning for everyone in the world.
2. European-style agriculture can not become a global model.
Just before COVID-19, what I observed while I walk about 1,000 km from Greece to Serbia through North Macedonia and Bulgaria was that it was difficult to find storage dam in agricultural areas of Europe. It is a characteristic of wheat farming and cattle-raising.
Another important thing standing out is that there are so many meat shops across the street. People tend to eat a lot of meat as regular meal. Meat is the staple food, and bread is considered side dish. The meat-eating culture weakens the resilience of the soil ecosystem due to cattle-raising. Unilateral erosion, not circulation of elements, proceeds. In the long run, it will inevitably lead to soil loss and desertification. Greenhouse gases held in soil layers escape into the atmosphere. The only way to make pasture for cattle is to clear the forest.
If forests are removed, rainwater cannot be contained and the soil becomes barren. Since wheat farming does not store water, it is not beneficial to the ecosystem, and difficult to cultivate continuously. The ability to feed the population by wheat-farming is much lower than that of rice farming. Moreover, there is dietary problem in winter. The desire to eat fresh vegetable in winter promotes facility-cultivation, and oil-based agriculture becomes commonplace.
There is a reason why Europeans colonized America and Africa as the population of Europe expands. It is difficult to procure food from European land alone. The problem is that European lifestyle remains intact even in a colony. A large number of people cannot survive with such food culture. There is only one Earth. European agriculture cannot become a world-wide model. The lifestyles of other global villages that imitate Europe, such as the United States and Australia, are not sustainable either.
In the past, the birthplace of civilization where the resident population could not exceed hundreds of millions, turned into a desert by adopting the wrong farming method. With over 7 billion people now, the Earth may be devastated in the blink of an eye. Transition to a sustainable lifestyle is a matter of human survival.
3. Rice farming and forests save the planet
Recently, a research team at Kangwon National University announced research result that methane gas generation can be reduced to one-third by effectively using less water in rice farming. When Western scholars criticize rice farming in Asia, they often quoted that rice-farming requires damming water for prolonged time, and it is harmful to climate because there was a lot of methane gas emitted from the carcass of aerobic micro-organisms. On the contrary, the paddy ecosystem stores lots of carbon dioxide and supports a large population. Western scholars inflated small disadvantage of rice farming and disparaged the effectiveness of rice farming. The problem is that this kind of invalid insistence is being accepted as an established theory. Recent research results show that this is not true.
In fact, although rice transplant that uses a lot of water is common in Korea, techniques such as Taepyeong farming method that uses much less water and protects the soil have been around for a long time. In Japan, there is also a natural circulation method of rice farming. It is no longer difficult for people in dry regions to eat rice.
Rice farming has a great ability to support the population. It is said that it feeds three times as many people as wheat-farming in same sized area. Rice farming has a great relationship with Korean people. The oldest sorae-ri cultivated rice seed, which was estimated to be 15,000 years old, was found in Cheongwon-gun, southern part of Korean Peninsula.
In China, rice farming was only possible at south of Yangtze River. Koreans moved to Manchuria at the end of Chosun Dynasty, and raised the northern limit of rice farming. In particular, in the first half of the 20th century, Koreans living in Primorsky Kray were carried to Central Asia by Stalin. They succeeded in rice farming overcoming difficulties such as lack of precipitation and coldness in Central Asia. It was a great achievement in the history of human civilization by further raising the Northern Limit Line of rice. In recent, the success of rice farming in the desert by South Korean researchers and the spread of rice farming in Africa are attracting global attention.
In rice farming, collaboration is an important condition. In some places they adopted mechanical farming recently. But the mainstream of global rice farming is collaborative, labor-intensive farming. Rice farming is an agricultural method that requires collective decision-making at the village level in all processes such as water management, intensive labor input in spring, and harvest. The productivity of rice farming feeds a large population. The splendid achievement of Koreans in Central Asia may be due to the collective migration.
In addition, traditional rice farming in Korea takes care of jointly managed forest, ‘Songgye’ mountain. Village-shared-forest is operated because of the residents’ need for firewood and grass (grass manure, compost). ‘Songgye’ means a self-governing organization at the village level that voluntarily adjusts the desirable amount of cutting & planting trees for continuous use. After waiting for the grass to fully grow, decision is made and entire villagers begin mowing at once.
When forests are treated with care in this way, it is possible for the villagers to preserve agricultural water and keep continuous win-win relationship with nature. Rice farming can promote forest conservation and support large populations. It also requires less energy. It is the grammar and solution in the era of climate crisis.
4. Wisdom to spread K-Food
Kimchi and soy-sauce are popping up all over the world. The core of K-food is that vegetarian ethnic group such as Korean people have stayed healthy throughout long winter by eating fermented food. If you make kimchi with cabbage, red pepper, and garlic which were harvested in autumn, you can enjoy vitamins and fermented lactic-acid-bacteria throughout long winter. To eat fresh vegetables, you do not have to rely on facility-farming which burns petroleum. If you make Doenjang(soybean paste) and Gochujang(red pepper paste) by fermenting Meju(fermented soybean lump), protein sauce with matured flavor is made. This ‘Gochujang sauce’ is also very popular around the world. The tofu which was made from ground soybean also guarantees excellent protein.
This Korean food is sustainable. It is plant-based and easy to store. There is no waste of energy. It is nutritious and, above all, the taste of fermentation is excellent. You can eat same food everyday. Being able to eat it over and over without getting tired is a great advantage in terms of sustainability.
K-food is core of Korean-Wave culture. K-pop may change over season and year. However, taste once absorbed is not easily forgotten. Moreover, it is regarded as a solution to climate crisis.
The core of food culture lies in the know-how and ingredients of cooking, “How to spread it” is the key point.
1) Transfer of cooking know-how is a problem. Even if you teach how to make kimchi on YouTube, it is not easy to pass on the know-how by verifying the taste and going through trial and error. This is a sector that requires face-to-face guidance. The same approach goes for Deonjang, Gochujang and Meju. It takes time for maturation, and a process of practicing together is required for proper instruction.
2) Cultivation of food ingredients is a challenge. If cultivated within Korean Peninsula, there will be little variation in quality. But if the soil and climate change, it is difficult to maintain the taste and identity. However, there is a high possibility that it will reach satisfactory level if people who cooks cultivates directly. Therefore, the propagation of food culture has to be tried together with propagation of cultivation.
Rice is preferred for this type of food culture, and it is expected that rice farming may be revitalized. Efficiency and intensification of land use may be expected. K-food culture can significantly reduce greenhouse gases. It is a classroom where you can learn skills while realizing the taste rather than learning through YouTube.
5. Lifestyle of young retirees and K-Village
The number of ‘young older brothers’ and ‘young older sisters’ who enjoy the rest of their lives after retirement is increasing. Many people live up to the age of 90 years nowadays. The key words in this era are health, leisure, and work(role). If you are healthy enough to leave the hospital in the big city, you will find a place where you can enjoy the pleasure of leisure and work(role). Among them, work(role) is more important for young people in their 60s. For example, the number of retired professors receiving pension is counted in the tens of thousands.
It would be nice to have a job which enables making money. Even if it doesn’t, there’s no better option than finding a place which needs you and your contribution. You can find such opportunities in Korea, but there are more opportunities in global village. For example, if you are an educated person, you can go on to become a Korean language teacher by taking professional courses. Volunteer opportunities related with previous job are limitless. Food, clothing, building/Ondol, medical, health, civil engineering, IT, music, dance, Taekwondo, design, Korean culture, NGO, farming, and so on. Especially, if you have experience in farming, you can do important work in connection with K-Food. Even ordinary housewife who can make good kimchi may be welcomed abroad.
For them, the quality of leisure activities is as important as contribution activities through role or service. There is also a high demand for long-term stays in search of a specific topic of their own rather than simple traveling abroad. One of rising topics is ‘ecology tour’, which has recently been in the spotlight. For example, if you join a tour to visit European castles and enjoy wineries, you can enjoy many benefits in the same context at K-Village.
It would be even more suitable if there was a safe base-camp to support these tours. If there was a collective residence where not only cost saving but opportunity to exchange travel information or meet colleagues is possible. Above all, the base camp may be able to supply kimchi without which many Koreans are not satisfied with eating meal generally.
6. The new concept of university: K-Vil School
With untact classes becoming routine due to COVID-19, Minerva School is attracting attention. This university, which provides on-line lectures by a small number of elite people who passed high competition, is a nomad-style university in large cities around the world, including Seoul as a main campus. The graduates of this university, trained by advanced high-tech education, are in the spotlight as outstanding talents favored by global companies. It is a new university model which will lead the world.
However, it is possible to transform this model into other versions. Minerva School may expand campuses to places like K-Village. K-Village residence is located not in a large city, but in a place where you can hold both on-line and off-line classes. It allows you to enjoy the advantages of off-line learning such as K-farming and Hallyu which on-line learning can not offer.
Various majors are available at Minerva School. Among them, there are stories about the experience of rapid economic growth in Korea, and political lessons which Korean civil society has learned through painful democratization process. It has meaning for everyone in the world. The community spirit of Korea also serves as an example.
Ecological farming is a powerful solution to climate crisis. Ecological farm is a place where space and time are prepared to experience climate crisis at first hand. If you learn Korean Wave properly, you can spread its strength to all parts of the world. While you take turns in visiting various K-villages around the world by staying one semester or one year, you can properly travel and enjoy experiencing the continent during vacation. Competent people from Korea and many countries around the world may come and study together.
In addition, a joint campus program is possible by mutually recognizing certain credits from regular universities. For example, existing university students in Korea can stay for one or two semesters while earning credits at K-Vil School, and vice versa.
7. K-Village to implement and propagate energy transition
Since around 1995, there has been a network of eco-villages called GEN(Global Ecovillage Network) all over the world. Eco-village aims to integrate sustainable social environment with a simple and rustic life. K-Village with such an objective may have the ability to set an example for active improvement of real world while cooperating with eco-village.
Among them, the technology required for energy conversion is the essential core. In principle, K-Village is an energy-independent village. There is no need for electrical wire to come in from outside.
When I visited Frankfurt City Hall in Germany about 6 years ago, an energy conversion officer pulled out his Korean mobile phone and said, “If a country with such technology does not take the lead, which country will make the energy transition?” He was very optimistic about Korea’s nuclear phase-out.
These days, it is said that Korean technology innovation moves so fast that if you look away one moment, you lag behind. It was revealed that there are very few countries that operates manufacturing factories properly during corona pandemic. It has been confirmed that there are only a few countries including Korea that are trusted in Corona era. Korea which has 50 million outstanding users, is doing very well as a test bed for propagation of innovative technology. When a new product is released, it takes time for most users to get used to it. But Korean users show no hesitation in accepting new product.
The Korean word ‘quickly, quickly’ means that speed of decision-making is fast. It is better to be fast than slow because the information coming from trial & error is accumulated continuously, and better decision can be made in the end. That is the driving force behind the fast development of Korean society. This trend has also contributed to technological innovation. The experience of making decisions in Korean fashion, which is being carried out by 50 million people, is worth sharing with other people around the world.
What kind of effect will be produced if Koreans who have been immersed in this kind of technological know-how for more than 20 years, stay at K-Village? K-Village may become a base for speedy upgrade and dissemination of Korea’s energy conversion technology.
8. The charm of Hallyu shops
There is an interesting shop in Gatgol Village, Hongdong-myeon, Hongseong-gun, Chungcheongnam-do. It is a small mart that sells food and household goods grown and manufactured only by ecological method. The products displayed at this shop are extraordinary. Each item has a tagged history, so it’s fun to interact with it until you decide to buy it. Even if you don’t buy it, the process of making the product and the sincerity of producer leave an impression on you. You can even feel the lifestyle of the producer or cultivator. Trying this kind of shopping, time is not wasted at all.
Among the Hallyu products, there are many products which have history, in addition to IT/home appliances that are popular these days. Korean hoe, Homi, is a prime example. It is a tool that has been handed down for a long time in Korea’s agricultural wisdom. What about Hanji(traditional Korean paper) with a lifespan of several hundred years? There is also clothing made of silk, cotton, and hemp. And there is furniture made of mother-of-pearl. These products contain traditional wisdom that maximizes the characteristics of natural materials. These products, which may contribute to the lifestyle of the global village, are excellent cultural ambassadors. With such an attractive shop, the town becomes an attractive place to visit.
What if a place that serves as a stage for cultural activities was prepared based on wonderful hardware infrastructure? What if a contest imitating not only BTS and BlackPink but also Inalchi which showed fusion music based on traditional Korean music. is held here? Local cultural performances/exhibitions are also possible. It can be a great platform for people-to-people exchanges around the world. Local people can stay and enjoy. A more powerful experience may be possible for the people coming from various global villages.
9. Flexible operation, but land rights to the public
K-village does not own land by individuals, but rather the land is owned by a village association or a public institution. That is the principle of K-village. When an individual owns the land, the members’ interest in the ‘real estate game’ weakens the original purpose of the village.
For individuals, there are two options: 1) a rental housing method in which both the land and building are leased, and 2) a land rental housing method in which only the land is leased. Rental housing is suitable for short-term residents, and land rental housing is suitable for long-term residents. In the early stages of town development, it is advantageous to build all of them as rental houses. However, land rental housing does not generate unearned land income and is a system that allows you to properly use your home and get back your money paid for the house. When you move out, you can sell it individually or sell it back to a public institution. Such saving of materials is the grammar in the era of climate crisis.
When these villages are located all over the world, a nomad lifestyle in which life is travel and travel becomes life may be established. There will be three groups of people staying in the village.
1) People who leave Korea and go to that village. People who stay for a long time for cultural exchange or tour: 1-year unit
2) Local people who want to stay in K-Village for a certain period: approximately one month to one year unit
3) K-Vil School students: 6 months to one year unit
A variety of fun can be created when the three groups live together properly. Even if the village’s asset value rises through this operation, the right to land should belong to the public. Even if the union initially purchases land and develops it, the land must not be sold to any third party except the public government of the country. Even if the rental income increases, it must be returned to the tenants, K-Vil School, or the local community in some way. K-village will be sustainable only if theses principles are followed.
K-Village, created in Korea, becomes a short-term residence-type village that serves as a base for foreigners to stay for a long time. Learning Korean and practicing K-Food become two pillars of K-Village. For example, some people may want to work during daytime when they visit K-Village on 90-days visa. It would be better if an educational program is offered for them.
The size of the village will be determined by the demand according to the characteristics of the village. It seems that flexible selection is possible in the range of 30 to 100 households anywhere in the world. When a larger size is required, it will be established in cluster form.
10. Communicate with the world through cultural power
The population living in Korean Peninsula at the end of Chosun Dynasty was 18 million. Currently, combined population of South & North Korea reaches 75 million, which means increase of more than four times. South Korea’s population exceeds 50 million. The carrying capacity of Korean peninsula has been exceeded for a long time, considering the agricultural capacity to support the population. Korean peninsula belongs to super high-density level in the world, and widespread dispersion is likely to come. Perhaps now is the time. Because the global villages want South Koreans.
There is nothing more powerful than having a job and keeping role to play. All you have to do is to go and live in K-Village. What the global villagers want is the sharing of experiences and becoming a channel that connects the experiences of 50 million people. Just keeping the role of connecting channel may be enough. A few million people out of 50 million may go out and stay wherever they want to live.
People want to go out of home country which is small. You can spend the rest of your life touring K-Villages around the world. If there are hundreds of K-villages all over the world, the Earth may become home for Koreans. There is no reason to be hung up on the real estate such as apartment in a crowded city in southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Conversely, young people from all over the world may come to study or work and live in Korea. Accepting foreigners may help South Korean society which faces a population cliff.
The American model of ‘Puritanism based on the relationship between God and humans’ is coming to an end. Time has come for the Korean model, which ‘makes rational decisions while respecting the value of the community’. The Korean model will prevail from now on. Unlike American model which inevitably causes confrontational conflicts, Korean model share common values and transform the global village into a win-win relationship rather than confrontation. K-Village can be a base for spreading such values and honing performing skills.
In the scheme presented above, what I am most looking forward to is ‘K-Vil School’. It is both a campus and a village. It has potential as a university that will gain popularity comparable to the Minerva School. My expectation is that K-Vil School which practices ecological farming, would become a model for future universities. If it is properly activated, it may be extended back to Korea and transform currently empty campus of local university into a ‘K-Vil School’ and join ‘K-Village Network’. The K-Vil School can become a model for lifelong education beyond the model of university education for humans who live up to the age of 100 years.
Although Genghis Khan conquered the world by force, Korea communicates with the global village through cultural power. The way to realize cultural superpower proposed by great pioneer Kim Ku (Baekbeom) is coming around the corner.
– Won-young Lee (Professor, University of Suwon, Director, Research Institute for the Future of Land)
Original Article >>>> http://www.hanion.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=22368
Translated by Choi NakHoon, LEE Sanghoon
Categories: Media Reports