Into The (Re)Wild – An essay by Minji Kim

Into The (Re)Wild – An essay by Minji Kim

The following essay by Minji Kim comes from the sixth issue of Ecoes, Sonic Acts‘ periodic magazine about art in the age of pollution. Read this and much more in print by Ordering a copy from Sonic Acts webshop.

Sihwa, which literally translates as ‘finally bright’ in Korean, is an artifcial lake located between the cities of Siheung and Hwaseong on the western coast of South Korea. The area features a complex coastline, characterised by its shallow depths and signifcant tidal range. In terms of size, it holds a place among the world’s top five tidal fats, with the vast Wadden Sea tidal flats, which extend along the shorelines of Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, ranking as the largest.

Within the bay area formed between Siheung and Hwaseong, a seawall was built to create the artifcial lake of Sihwa. A road-like bridge connects the two cities, serving as a dividing line between the artificial lake and the open sea. When one drives across the bridge, a distinct landscape comes into view. The lights of the plant towers shine across the water’s surface, fickering in unison against the backdrop of a mist-covered sky. On the far side of the open sea, construction vehicles move slowly, while intertidal birds wander over the exposed tidal fats. Beneath the bridge, extending across a total of 2.76 kilometres, there are sluice gates, allowing the water from the artifcial lake to ebb and fow. The ecology of the lake waters has adapted to the rhythm of the artifcial currents created by these sluice gates.

In July 2023, over the course of one month, I conducted field research in the Sihwa watershed. I sought to addresses the question posited by the Sonic Acts’ residency The Lives of Deltas: How can ecological approaches to pollution and pollination re-frame interspecies networks in the contemporary urban delta?.1 Embarking on a feld study, I delved into the observed ecological, geographical, and sociological layers, encompassing a critique of post-ecological urbanisation and capitalist development, alongside the notion of rewilding. This corresponding text, which narrates my findings, experiences and encounters along the lake shore, unfolds as a chronological analysis spanning more than 30 years. Following the timeline of the Sihwa reclamation project, I seek to shed light on the intricate histories of various species, including humans, while also highlighting the potential environmental resurgence that might be rekindled.

The essay continues. Read the whole article via Sonic Acts.

Photo: View of the industrial complex from the Sihwa Lake. Photo by Minji Kim, 2023. Courtesy of the artist.