Madness, visions, cynicism and pragmatism

I was actually taken to South Korea to write about a whole lot more – about transnational adoption, about art and politics, about the urban space under a tear down and building new regime – when in 2011 I was captivated by the concept of "green growth". At a company-sponsored exhibition in the political and financial center of Seoul, I learned, among other things, that the country's major rivers had to be rebuilt so that nature could behave more appropriately.

By uniting commercial interests and cutting-edge technological know-how, the ecosystem itself could be improved, the promise sounded so that the ongoing climate change would not threaten human freedom. Later, I returned to South Korea to write about this insane project and the connected strategy of making South Korea a central global force in the green growth paradigm.

At the same time, I began to read into the literature and attend seminars on this new ideology, which South Korea had been central to launching on the world stage as a dual response to economic and ecological crisis. But I managed to overlook an earlier – and in a way even more imaginative – project than the so-called river improvements in South Korea: the "futuristic eco-city" Masdar City, designed in London but commissioned by the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which was launched . . .

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