[KS] Korean Commons?

Hang Ryeol Na nhr24 at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 6 16:30:33 EDT 2012

Dear all,
When the concept of the 'commons' is dealt with in environment or natural resource related fields such as Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012), there are some case studies done in Korea. This school of thought usually mentions Garrett Hardin's 'tragedy of the commons' as their background, but I am sure it can date back to the older context of England that we've been discussing. 
For example, Han Sang-Bok, emeritus professor at anthropology department of Seoul National University, studied how the collective work of fishermen in Kagodo (가거도) is similar or different from village to village for catching anchovies for his Ph.D. dissertation in 1972 at Michigan State University. It was cited by, for example Schlager and Ostrom (1999) as an example of what they call common pool resource. By the way they misspelled Kagodo (p.100) although it can be spelled differently. The dissertation was later published as a book in 1977 titled 'Korean fishermen: ecological adaptation in three communities.' Anchovy-catching song (멸치잡이 노래) of Kagodo is an intangible cultural heritage designated by Jeollanam-do. 
There are also some papers about farmers self-governance model for irrigation system, which I think are more modern cases rather than traditional. Thanks.       
Hang Ryeol from SUNY-ESF
* Reference
Schlager, E., and E. Ostrom. 1999. Property rights regimes and coastal fisheries: an empirical analysis. Pages 87-113 in M. D. McGinnis, editor. Polycentric governance and development. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

> Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2012 04:31:16 -0700
> From: hoffmann at koreaweb.ws
> To: koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Subject: Re: [KS] Korean Commons?
> Fine, Lauren, but you did not say anything of how you link THAT (your 
> understanding of the CC licensing system) to historical Korea. As I 
> understand it, that was what this discussion was/is all about. Several 
> movements related to the Internet and copyrights in "the West" (resp. 
> the attempts to 'update' or redefine copyrights) make such historical 
> claims to the "commons" as detailed in writing in the medieval England 
> (pointed out by John Eperjesi). It was then the question if Korea also 
> had anything such as an "commons" agreement which someone today could 
> refer to (within the same political fight). Referring to the CC 
> licensing system does not relate to Korea in this sense. 
> It might be more fruitful to--again and again--reverse even this 
> question, this theme: apart from that fact that Korea was over the past 
> 30 or 40 years a "fast developing country," are there possibly other 
> explanations why copyrights, trademarks, etc. are being violated to 
> such a high degree? (Korea and China are at the same time among the 
> leading hacker countries in the world, with many millions of outgoing 
> attacks on servers world-wide, every day.) I understand this is a 
> political incorrect and insensitive statement and related question to 
> ask. But only so *because* we are obliged to play by our own rule sets 
> and ethics, and these again are dictated by our late-modern capitalist 
> system, a social-political system with a long history. And that history 
> varies in every country, goes back to various local understandings in 
> pre-capitalist society, including the "commons" when it comes to e.g. 
> England. I think what many of the Internet activists such as the 
> 'Pirates' and others are saying is that late-modern capitalism has 
> step-by-step altered older rule sets and our ethical understanding 
> according to the economic needs of venture capitalism. They see the 
> Internet as a second chance, as a kind of parallel market and parallel 
> social system to the existing political world-system. That might make 
> sense to some degree. As you know, there are now even alternative 
> Internet currencies such as Bitcoin being used which are succeeding to 
> circumvent the national (and EU) financial systems, while still 
> building a value relation to them (which allows exchanges just as 
> between regular currencies). These are all signs of a parallel market, 
> and there is a good chance that this succeeds over time. This ongoing 
> parallel market is now looking for parallel rule sets, e.g. a 
> replacement of the national and international copyright conventions (of 
> which we have several sets also: Berne Convention, etc.) and trademark 
> agreements. The CC licensing system you refer to is one such attempt; 
> there are others. And again, such contemporary political movements are 
> trying to legitimate their efforts by pointing to historical parallels, 
> pre-capitalist parallels--and the naming "commons" and the references 
> to British history is such a case. The question though, and that is how 
> I understood John Eperjesi, was if there is anything in Korean history 
> that parallels "commons" in England. To me this question in itself 
> seems a question asked from a Euramerican perspective, looking at an 
> (again) mostly U.S. initiated movement that is adapted in Asia as well. 
> I would rather want to know if the late-capitalist rule sets and ethics 
> (all with a long pre-capitalist development history) that we have in 
> Euramerica are identical to the rule set and ethics that govern market 
> and social life in Korea. If that is not the case, if a major part of 
> the fast economic development in Korea (and Japan earlier and now in 
> China) operates on different rules and ethics, e.g. as regards to 
> authorship, copyrights, etc., then the question asked by John Eperjesi 
> does not get us anywhere. To be sure, of course is Korea (now even 
> North Korea with its copyright laws) on the surface operating under the 
> same rule sets that Europe and America do, and it fastly adapts more 
> and more of those. Still, the historical roots of capitalism and the 
> political system cannot so easily be compared, and the question we 
> should ask should be starting with the situation in Korea as it is 
> today. I am not sure what a better question would be (in relation to 
> historical Korea), but this particular question being discussed here 
> seems not to make all too much sense. 
> Best,
> Frank
> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreaweb.ws
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