A review of the literature by: Danping Wang, University of Massachusetts
Original Article: Jung, Hae-Joon and Ryu, Je-Hun. 2015. “Sustaining a Korean Traditional Rural Landscape in the Context of Cultural Landscape.” Sustainability 7(8): 11213-11239
This case study of past research focuses on the preservation activities around terraced paddy fields, a traditional agricultural landscape in East Asian countries. Due to depopulation, urbanization and the introduction of intensive agriculture, China, Japan and Korea all confront the issue of both rapid and continuous decline in rice terraced fields and the lost of traditional agricultural knowledge and culture. There have been related preservation activities on the ground in the past few decades, but assessment of the success of these practices revealed mixed results. This paper takes a close look at Dr. Hae-Joon Jung’s newly published paper “Sustaining a Korean Traditional Rural Landscape in the Context of Cultural Landscape,” where he evaluates past preservation activities in Gacheon village, Korea using policy documents, preservation reports from the government and interviews with different stakeholders including preservationists, government officials and local residents as well. Scholars have been paying more and more attention to diverse voices in preservation-related studies, yet local residents’ evaluation of the effectiveness of the preservation activities has largely been neglected in previous studies. Jung’s study reminds scholars of the importance of including the voice of local community in the assessment of preservation activities. This study discusses four key issues in traditional agricultural landscape conservation, namely multi-functionality and ecosystem services of traditional agricultural landscape, tourism development as a preservation means, the function of government subsidy, and community engagement in the preservation. Jung’s case study, research on preserving rice terraces in East Asia and other studies on preserving traditional agricultural landscape more broadly reveal the overall trend of understanding traditional agricultural landscapes as living and evolving systems, in which nature and culture interact with each other. Based on such acknowledgement, practitioners should reconsider their practices on tourism development, allocation of government subsidies, and the development of community-involved programs.