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Highly commended: Ji Min An

Korea/Korea by Ji Min An, Unitec Department of Architecture.

This scheme takes as its site the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, the bizarre no man’s land in which, decades after the end of the Cold War, the theatre of geo-political hostility is still played out. Could something be done in this border strip to lessen the tension between the estranged sibling nations? Via the means of a food factory the project proposed a cautious normalisation of encounters in the DMZ that might serve as an exemplary gesture of reconciliation. 

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Ji Min’s entry is a well-judged means of using architecture to explore an intractable political problem. The proposal for a factory sited in the middle of the Korean DMZ in which workers from both North and South would produce kimchi – the nonpartisan national dish – is clearly presented, tightly edited and very focused. It also manages to be both realistic and optimistic in its appreciation of an issue architecture could only ever alleviate, not solve.

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