Dr. Aaron Moore, Associate Professor, Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies

Engineering Development: The Cold War and Japanese Post-colonial Power in Asia

This paper focuses on the Soyanggang Multi-Purpose Dam project (1967-1973), Asia’s largest rock-fill dam and a prominent symbol of President Park Chung-hee’s “miracle of the Han” development policies in South Korea. The project, paid for largely by Japanese government grants, loans, and credits from the 1965 Normalization Treaty that settled all claims from the colonial past, was supervised by Japan’s leading development consultancy, Nippon Kōei, a company that was run by former colonial engineers who had built what was equivalent to Japan’s entire domestic power production capacity during the colonial/wartime era in northern Korea.I argue that analyzing the power relations at different scales within transnational flows of ideals, materials, people, and capital around large-scale technical structures such as dams, which emerged out of entangled histories of Japanese colonial rule and the rise of the US Cold War order in East Asia, constitutes a promising direction in Asian environmental humanities.