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Water is "not innocent anymore"

Water is "not innocent anymore"

Dr Chung Hyun Kyung at the Ecumenical Institute at Bossey. Helen Putsman/WCC

31 March 2015



Water is important political, economic, spiritual and cultural spheres in Korea, says Chung Hyun Kyung.

It is in Asia and Africa an eco-feminism issue due to women having to carry water, thereby relating to their emancipation.

“In the southern tip of South Korea, on Jeju Island, they are now building a nuclear missile naval base in a beautiful village that is a UNESCO world natural heritage bio diversity area,” says Dr Chung. “They are telling us that this is for our national security,” in relation to North Korea, “but their real intention is to encircle China and its hegemonic power.”

Also the East Sea, which faces Japan, has been heavily polluted by the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant, so fish from that area cannot be eaten.

“In the West Sea China is dumping industrial trash,” says Dr Chung.

“Water is a complicated issue. It relates to the military issue of world empire; it is a nuclear issue and it is also a neo-liberal issue linked to rapid economic development and pollution.”

Looking at fresh water, Dr Chung remembers that in 2009 without telling anyone, North Korea released a massive amount of dam water killing six campers.

“Water is not innocent anymore.”

Dr Chung says, “I have a feeling 21st century hegemony war issues will centre on water. It will be the gravest issue of conflict in the 21st century.”

She notes, “Religious and spiritual leaders can provide a cosmological, anthropological and ethical orientation on these water issues. We cannot change the problem without changing our hearts, our lifestyles and our value systems.

“As people of faith we give guiding posts and guidelines on making decisions as to what constitutes a good life based on justice and sustainability.”

Read also: Theological reflection on water from a Salimist (Korean eco-feminist) perspective. This reflection by Dr Chung Hyun Kyung has been published on the EWN website as part of the Seven Weeks for Water 2015.

A group of 17 people, most of them theologians, but also lawyers and an engineer met at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, Switzerland, in a theological consultation on water justice from 8-11 December 2014 to develop a theological framework for water justice. Some of the group told Peter Kenny about the issue of water in the context of their regions, nations and local areas. So did some of the students currently studying at Bossey. The interviews will be published in the EWN website over the coming weeks.