Research Area:
Environmental Risks in Urban and Regional Development

Landscape Change Induced by Separation and Reunification: A Comparative Case Study of South Korea and Germany

Source: Marco Neubert
photo shows the investigation area

Since 1952 the Korean peninsula has been divided into two separate states, namely the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (called "North Korea") and the Republic of Korea (called "South Korea"). A demilitarised zone (DMZ) was established in the wake of the Korean War, creating a 4 km-wide buffer between the two nations. Despite the military nature of the DMZ, the natural environment in this area has developed largely undisturbed over a long period. In the case of reunification, the aim is to protect this natural environment (perhaps as a Peace Park) as well as to develop the area for tourism.

25 years ago Germany underwent a process of reunification. The experiences gained in the former border areas should help Korea to better plan for this possible development. To this end, the landscape development since the partitioning of Germany until today was systematically investigated and evaluated for the area known as Eichsfeld (Lower Saxony, Thuringia and Hessen). Results for comparison were provided by a similar analysis of one section of the Korean DMZ. Experiences of Germany’s post-reunification development such as the nature protection initiative "Grünes Band" (Green Belt) along the former East-West border as well as corresponding management measures were examined for their usefulness in steering Korea’s future development.

Changes to the landscape caused by political separation and reunification were analysed by examining the former East-West internal border of Germany and Korea’s DMZ. Several time periods were investigated for both areas by looking at historic maps and processing other suitable base data. The expectation was that this comparative analysis will allow experiences gained from processes at the inner-German border to be applied to the border region between the two Koreas in order to minimize future negative developments.


08/2015 – 03/2016


Dr. Marco Neubert
Tel. +49 351 46 79 274


Korea Environment Institute, Office of Global Cooperation and Outreach

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Kim, Oh Seok; Neubert, Marco: To conserve or not to conserve? A brief outlook of the Korean Demilitarized Zone and the German Green Belt. In: Greenable (2016) 8, S. 2-19