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One man demonstration in Seoul against destruction of virgin forest for Pyeongchang 2018

Kijun Kim demonstrating against destruction of forest for OlympicsKijun Kim demonstrating against destruction of forest for Olympics

Kijun Kim started a one man demonstration on 20th January 2014 in the centre of Seoul to protest against the destruction of the unique forest habitat at Mount Kariwang for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018. Little attention has been paid in the media, both national and international, to the environmental destruction which is about to be perpetrated at Pyeongchang. He plans to continue his demonstration for one hundred days. His placard says:

'Mount Kariwan, the best virgin forest in South Korea will be destroyed by the construction of a ski slope for the Winter Olympics'

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Kijun Kim is a member of the The Uiryong People a group campaigning to preserve the forest at Mount Kariwang. They have conducted surveys of the area over a number of years and have called for

'an international coalition and support against the natural calamity involved with the sport'

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The South Korean Forestry Service had designated the forest as an 'important area for preserving genetic resources and endangered plants'. This was changed to allow the Pyeongchang Olympics to go ahead and this area of forest will be destroyed for the construction of a downhill ski slope. This will happen, of course, in face of the posturing of the IOC about the environment being its 'third dimension'.

Faced with the Olympic juggernaut environmentalists the Uiryong People have criticised the Forestry Service for failing to protect such an important habitat which has been described as "the Ark of Forest Plants" of Korea. As they pointed out in a statement:

'The Organizing Committee have not given regards to the fact that the proposed skiing venue is the seat of an ecological treasure trove dubbed "the Ark of Forest Plants" of Korea. With the mountain forests' giant trees of a unique value that could be found in this over-populated country, so it is designated as a Genetic Resource Protection Area. The government forestry authority is sacrificing the sanctuary. The Korea Forest Service, the body responsible for national forests, followed the decision of other authorities and proclaimed that there was no other alternative to Mt. Kariwang-san.'

Most importantly Mount Gariwang hosts the largest plantation of The giant "Wangsasure," the signature wood species in Mt. Kariwang-sanThe giant "Wangsasure," the signature wood species in Mt. Kariwang-sanWangsasure, a variety of Aspen only found in Korea. The forest as a whole is a unique habitat and environmentalists fear the destruction of this forest will have a serious impact on the wider area.

The carelessness with which the Winter Olympics and its skiers treat such a priceless habitat is reflected in the words of the Uiryong campaigners:

'In the winter of 2018, the competing athletes stopping in the snow tail they've just carved upon crossing the finish line will look back at the scoreboard for their times. They would not have any idea about at what cost their competition place had been made. It is deplorable that each pole-gate on the downhill run was home to hundreds of trees and other families in the flora. In place of the Olympic rings we could be able to substitute the felled giant Birch, Oak, Aspen, Pine and Yew trees as a stark reminder as to what devastation to Nature these Games were held.'

We should remember that the IOC only has one dimension, money.


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