This professor living and working in Seoul, Republic of Korea (South Korea), has noticed rising levels of concern in South Korea as polluted air has been darkening skies over the country. He writes:
In Korea, China is often blamed for the pollution wreckage, a scapegoating one routinely hears from taxi drivers, random people on the subway, students, and even from some professors. The blaming of China has radiated throughout Korean society, amplified by opportunistic politicians and click-bait media headlines, resulting in a hysterical us vs. them opposition that views fine dust as an illegal immigrant, sneaking across borders and corrupting our clean air. This nationalist narrative has unleashed some disturbing online violence against China and Chinese people.
There is no doubt about the fact that a significant amount of air pollution originating in mainland China drifts across the Korean Peninsula. But here I want to offer an alternative ecocritical framework for thinking about the crisis of air pollution in South Korea in which fine dust is viewed as a product of fossil capital, defined by Andreas Malm as “an economy of self-sustaining growth predicated on growing consumption of fossil fuels, and therefore generating sustained growth in emissions of carbon dioxide.”