Unmasking Urban Neglect: Enhancing Environmental Awareness in Seoul
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Unmasking Urban Neglect: Enhancing Environmental Awareness in Seoul

Jaeyong joined the fourth cycle of the Climate Leaders Fellowship. This environmental leadership program leads high school students in researching the effects of climate change in their own communities and finding ways to combat the problem locally.

The online program is offered in a collaboration between the Stanford University Deliberative Democracy Lab and the Rustic Pathways Foundation.

Read Jaeyong’s impact story below!

Jaeyong Sung
Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies
Yongin, South Korea

Hello! I am Jaeyong Sung, attending Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies. I grew up in Seoul, South Korea, an urban area crowded with people and traffic. Every morning I woke up with car noises and trash-picking trucks.

Now, I live in a dormitory in Yong-in, a suburban area, where I can hear the sound of elk every night. Just like how we miss more when we get further away, I began to know more about urban issues and the environment. This is how I began to explore urban problems.

I saw so many news articles about the city’s development and magnificence. Therefore, we found many loopholes in environmental efforts in cities. Seemingly eminent activities revealed to be meretricious. It is why I decided to set the most urgent goal of promoting those neglected issues in our society, especially the issues related to climate change.

Starting this Urban Diagnosis project was just like pioneering wasteland. There were not enough resources published. For instance, filter companies didn’t provide any information about the amount of filter waste, recyclability, or related information. Since those issues were not addressed before, they lacked previous research or articles to study. However, the project did not stop; sharing ideas with other fellows and getting encouragement from them made me continue this project.

Our first goal was to address the issue of air-purifier filter recycling. Every classroom in our school has one air purifier per classroom, and we found that all used filters just become trash. Having 30 classrooms meant producing 30 filter trash per month, not being recycled, and being incinerated, which is a major cause of air pollution. Then, I thought of this phenomenon as an irony–air purifiers, which aim to make the air clean, produce air pollution as a result.

To promote this ironic phenomenon to a broader audience, we created an Instagram account called Urban Diagnosis. Since our project is still progressing, we are now in a state of uploading the background information, such as the explosion of the air purifier market, or our email address so that partner companies or organizations can contact us.

Furthermore, we plan to address the problems in the government’s policy or company’s. By collaborating with environmental organizations, we seek to state those issues with the press. We currently have 54 followers, first targeting our school students, but as we expand our activities, we aim to achieve more than 1,000 actively engaging followers this year.

My experience in participating in this Climate Leaders Fellowship is hard to explain. I’ve learned so much from communicating and engaging in activities. Because of the time zone difference, I joined the Zoom meeting every 1 AM at night. Therefore, I was excited and really waited for this Zoom meeting, where I got to meet with other fellows or do socializing activities. Even when I am really tired, getting involved in conversation makes me fully wake up. I am sure that this opportunity is worth the time, and I am so proud that I contributed to solving the environmental issue. I am now so excited to get involved in more and more activities!!

About the Author

Kayla Anzalone