Next stop: Busan, South Korea, a space of burgeoning tech advances and rapid urban expansion.
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The March for Science, planned for April 22, Earth Day, has expanded into a global movement with marches organized in over 50 different countries and over 500 cities worldwide. One of those cities is Busan, South Korea.
Located in the southern part of the country, Busan is Korea's second largest city (over 3.5 million people) and home to a booming medical tourism industry as well as a one of the world’s top ten largest ports (handling 300 million tonnes of cargo in 2012).
Modern day Korea is at the forefront of technological advancement. This advancement starts with science. Smart phones, new automobile technology, and that giant flat screen in your home, are all brought to you by a thriving science and technology culture and industry in Korea.
Korea has invested heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) as well. Last year the government announced that it would invest 1 trillion South Korean Won ($880 million) into AI research through 2020.
Korea also has ambitions to become the world leader in basic science research and to have a Korean win a Nobel Prize in Science. According to Yannis Semertzidis, professor of Physics at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology “the days of Nobel Prize-worthy scientific discoveries are not far for Korea.”
Because of technological advances, South Korea has had rapid development of urban and industrial areas, causing an increase in pollutants and greenhouse gases. Although they are in the top ten carbon emitting countries, South Korea was the eighth country to ratify the Paris Agreement.
"Through the latest ratification of the Paris Agreement, the South Korean government, as a member of the new climate regime, will effectively react to climate change issues and proactively take part in the international community's effort to handle the matter," the Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the time of the signing.
In addition to the push toward reining in carbon emissions, there are other areas where Korea is broadening science involvement. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in 2010 less than 17 percent of researchers in South Korea were women.
Organizations such as the Association of Korean Women Scientists and Engineers (KWSE) are working to encourage and support women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
With all of these factors in mind, the March for Science Busan has been organized by a small group of American expatriates who are scientists and science enthusiasts.
Hoping to be part of the worldwide movement and show solidarity with the March for Science in Washington DC, the organizers wish to engage the local Korean and expat communities in Busan and the surrounding area to show their support for science, scientific research, science education, environmental protection, and science funding.
This is the largest grassroots movement for science we’ve ever seen. And these events aren’t just for scientists; they’re for everyone who loves and appreciates the role science plays in our lives and who wants to strengthen scientists’ ability to serve our communities.