Wednesday, 24 Apr 2002

SEOUL, South Korea

I began my day by buying a Korean Times on the street and looking for news about this week’s Earth Day events. Instead, I found an announcement for an Ocean Seminar being held as part of the first Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ocean-Related Ministerial Meeting. As I’ve often covered marine conservation in China for my work as a journalist, I decided to attend the seminar.

After almost an hour and a half on the subway, I got to the hotel where the conference was being held and made my way to the front desk. One of the conference organizers, Mi Young Lee, welcomed me and walked me past photos and information about marine issues in Korea and into the meeting venue.

I was particularly interested in attending this meeting because I am currently working with another NGO, Pacific Environment, to plan a marine workshop in the Chinese city of Dalian in October. We would very much like Korea to be represented at the workshop. Because Korea and China share the Yellow Sea, the two nations must jointly address several ocean-related environmental concerns, including fishery conservation, red tides, marine pollution, and endangered marine species.

After the meeting was over, I met with Sierra James of Earth Day Network and members of the Korean Green Consumers Network. GCN helped coordinate Korean Earth Day, so we wanted to offer farewells and thank-yous to the group, and particularly to Hae Young and Cho Yoon-Mi. Hae Young, who is a pharmacist by day and a GCN volunteer by night — and a passionate environmentalist at all times of the day — translated Sierra’s speech at the Korean Earth Day ceremony.

Later, after dinner, we went to another farewell-and-thank-you party — this one held by the Korean Federation for the Environmental Movement in honor of Sierra. Sierra took the opportunity to share some of the wonderful photos she took in Korea. We were all amazed by how powerful the images were. One photo featured Sierra sitting in the middle of the road and blocking traffic — truly living up to her title as global car-free campaign coordinator.

The presence of Sierra and Earth Day Network in Korea really gave a strong boost to the country’s environmental movement. Her solidarity has been inspiring, and as she leaves today, we all wish her a safe and pleasant journey. Bon Voyage!