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한국과학사학회지, 제43권 제2호 (2021), 433-458

[Special Issue] Transnational Hazard: A History of Asbestos in South Korea, 1938-1993

by KANG Yeonsil
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초록 How do hazardous industries move around the world? Hazardous industries, those that deal with toxic materials or significantly pollute the surrounding environment, have a history of relocating to so-called pollution havens. This paper examines a history of asbestos in South Korea that begins in 1938 when the largest asbestos mine in East Asia started operation and ends in 1993 when an asbestos textile factory worker was recognized as the first occupational cancer case. It highlights how global political and economic regimes introduced, supported, and depended on the asbestos industry. Towards the end of Japanese Colonialism, asbestos mines were developed in the peninsula to support the increasing need in the archipelago. After the Second World War, U.S. foreign aids supported asbestos manufacturing, together with the areas deemed foundational to industrial rehabilitation and self-reliance. Pushing for the modernization of landscapes, and industrialization of the economy, the South Korean government in the 1960s and the 1970s actively promoted foreign investments in the asbestos industry. This paper pays attention to the movements of things, people, and knowledge between borders in following asbestos dust from the present to the past. This paper illuminates how political economic interests intervene in a slowly and steadily progressing disaster by engaging this history of asbestos with today's occupational and environmental health problems.
주요어 Asbestos, hazardous industry, slow disaster, pollution haven, transnational exchange

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