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Assessing Community Resilience of Rural Villages supported by the Korean Authoritarian Regime
1  University of Seoul


This paper examines whether the Korean New Village Movement (Saemaul Undong, New Rural Community Movement, or the KNVM) driven by the authoritarian regime of President Park, Chung-hee in the 1970s enhanced community resilience of rural villages. As a reaction to rapid Korean urbanization, the KNVM supported rural villages, transformed long-standing human settlements rapidly, and created social-ecological sudden changes of population and resource management. Given the historical context, I assess the community resilience of rural villages supported by the KNVM to rapid urbanization in two dimensions of demography and ecology, addressing the cross-scale and cross-sectoral interaction of the KNVM to population change and resource management change.

The paper takes the following four steps: I clearly identify the mechanism of the KNVM and other central government plans in the 1970s such as the Korean Family Plan for population change and the Korean Reforestation for resource management change. I then create a variety of spatiotemporal patterns of demography and ecology, using a macro overview based on national-scale statistical data, a cross-scale analysis based on multi-scale spatiotemporal data, and a micro survey based on village-scale sample data. Third, I conduct demographic and ecological resilience assessments of community resilience based on three main variables respectively (i.e., total population, age structure, and fertility for demographic assessment; forest growing stock, primary energy type, and foreign energy dependence for ecological assessment). Finally, I discuss short-term efficacy and long-term vulnerability of strong top-down implementations by the Korean Government such as the KNVM, the Korean Family Plan, and the Korean Reforestation, which is associated with a lack of diversity in development strategies including transformation of human settlements, population planning, and reforestation planning.

Keywords: Strong Top-down Implementation, Sustainable Rural Development, Social-Ecological Resilience