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While North Korea may certainly be unusual in contemporary politics, an outlier when it comes to the organisation of state, economy and society the author of this book believes it is a mistake to consider it unique or sui generis. North Korea its politics, development and no doubt lively matters cannot be separated from the wider streams of history, nor from the influence and connections with neighbouring nations. This is, of course, both true historically as much as it is true in the current era. While fishing practice and development as we will see in the next chapter is certainly difficult in contemporary North Korea and specific communities under Pyongyang’s rule, communities and fishing geographies nearby to North Korea are themselves also beset by difficulties and challenges, of both environmental and political natures. It is important, therefore, for this book to engage with lively fishing matters and materials in these neighbouring or connected nations. This chapter engages in particular with three case studies, which the author of this book has completed fieldwork exercises in during the period of this book’s production. First, this chapter journeys to the island of Gageodo, the most southwestern island in South Korea and the closest South Korean community to China. Gageodo’s fishing community has always been challenged by its geographic isolation and distance from the political institutions of Korea, whether contemporary South Korea, historical Chosŏn or colonial Chosen. Its community, however, has continued to fish, in spite of this isolation, the co-option of their efforts historically by tradition Kaekchu middlemen, and the pressure of tourist development (Gageodo is now very famous for sport fishing) in current times. Similarly pressured are the fishing communities nearby Dalian on the Liaodong Peninsula in China, just to the northwest of North Korea. Dalian city is subject to spectacular levels of speculative urbanism and attendant levels of pollution and environmental degradation. Whole areas of the city and its surrounding rural hinterland have been captured by the forces of new capital and speculation and reconstructed in such a way as to exclude less profitable and more old-fashioned enterprises as fishing. However, fishing communities continue to exist, as well as fish, reconfiguring their fishing geographies and infrastructures to take into account the new economic and social realities of twenty-first-century China. Finally, the chapter considers the case of Slavyanka, in Primorsky Krai, Russian Federation to the northeast of North Korea. Situated in political geography in some ways as challenging as that of China and North Korea, Slavyanka a fishing community since the 1860s was threatened by the developmental interests of regional politics in Russia, yet through an extensive repertoire of resistive and energetic actions managed to maintain its geography and fishing infrastructure. Through these three case studies, a complex meshing of lively political, environmental and economic matters generate and co-produce fishing geographies and landscapes which will certainly be useful in the next chapters’ consideration of a particular North Korean fishing community.
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- Gageodo, Dalian and Slavankya…Lively Matters in the Neighbourhood
- Springer Singapore
- Chapter 5