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A Timber Theft Scandal in Jiri Mountain and Its Impact on Forest Policy

Songja Yim 1

1순천대학교 지리산권문화연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article illuminated in detail the timber theft scandal in Jiri Mountain in October 1964. Four key points of the scandal were analyzed as follows. Firstly, this study has analyzed the details of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s timber disposal and a close relationship between the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and companies which committed timber theft. Secondly, it examined the behind-the-scenes power of the scandal and inspected whether the power intervened or not in the timber theft. Thirdly, this article investigated if the Ministry of Home Affairs was far from that scandal. Finally, this article examined Seonam Heungeop (Southwest Company), Namseon Mokjae (South Korea Timber Company) and intervention of high-ranking officials in the scandal. Besides the above-mentioned four points, this study also researched this scandal’s impact on forest policy. The timber theft scandal in Jiri Mountain gave a big shock to the general public because high-ranking officials were involved and the theft was perpetrated on a large scale. Sin Sang-muk and Jang Gyeong-sun were central figures of the scandal. A key issue of the scandal was to find out the close relationship between illegally timber-felling companies and high-ranking officials. However, the prosecution and the police investigated the incident while taking a lukewarm attitude. Special investigation committee organized by the National Assembly could not reveal the connection between high-ranking officials and the timber theft scandal. Even if the suspicions of the scandal was not dispelled, this incident and its investigation exerted an influence on the changes of the forest policy. It resulted in the foundation of the Office of Forestry and prompted the integration of forest organizations. Also, the scandal had an influence on rearrangement of slash-and-burn fields. Those efforts could not become thorough measures against the timber theft or reckless deforestation, but could decrease the damage of the forest to a certain degree.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.