Madagascar land grab: how the South Koreans see it

by | Mar 27, 2009

Earlier this week, I noted that the Daewoo land lease deal in Madagascar – under which the South Korean conglomerate secured the lease to one half of Madagascar’s arable land for, er, no money – had emerged as one of the main reasons for Madagascar’s recent coup d’etat, and that one of the first acts of the new President had been to cancel the deal.

Good for Madagascar, you might think: with luck, this will lead to food importing countries becoming a bit more intelligent about getting the politics and the social dimensions right when they negotiate such sensitive food security deals.

Or maybe not.  Here’s the view of Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea’s largest newspapers:

Er… nope, words just fail me.

So instead I’ll just quote what Ban Ki-moon – South Korea’s first Secretary-General of the United Nations – said when speaking to the Korean Parliament last summer:

My friends, Korea is not doing what it must … In truth, I’m somewhat ashamed as secretary-general that Korea is not doing what it should … I hope that Korea reflects on its current standing in the world and [resolves] to contribute more to the UN’s official development assistance [ODA] and its peacekeeping activities.

Looks like he has an uphill struggle on his hands…


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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