Dreams and Migration in South Korea's Border Region: Landscape Change and Environmental Impacts

Published In

Annals of the American Association of Geographers

Document Type


Publication Date



The border region of South Korea has undergone dramatic social and environmental changes since the late 1990s with shifts in governmental regimes. Under the proliberal government (1997–2007) that enhanced economic ties between North and South Korea, the border region was open for introducing new people and industries. With a new conservative governmental regime in the past decade (2007–2017), social and environmental challenges emerged in the border region. Such challenges were not uniformly present throughout different areas, however. We examined the spatial transformation of the border region using sociodemography, economy, landscape fragmentation, and water quality data with a focus on two gateway regions (Paju and Goseong) as representative cases. Although these two regions are similar in size and served as central nodes of flow between the two Koreas, they experienced different trajectories under disparate national and regional policies. In Paju, a closer region to Seoul, the capital of South Korea, the landscape became more fragmented as a result of urban expansion, but different subcenters were formed to accommodate the growing population and industries that were less dependent on external shocks, contributing to the economic and environmental resilience of the region. In contrast, with continuous declining aging population, Goseong’s landscape became less fragmented with one remaining main urban center, but its economy, society, and environment became fragile after the closure of the Kumgangsan tour. These different patterns of regional resilience can be fully understood by considering various social, environmental, and institutional factors acting on multiple scales that helped shape the region’s stability.


Copyright © 2018 Informa UK Limited



Persistent Identifier