This is a book about Hansalim, a cooperative in South Korea that has grown from a small rice market on the outskirts of Seoul in 1986 to become one of the world’s largest organic food cooperatives with 750,000 members and producers. Through this research I want to find out what lessons their experience holds for other cooperative groups and movements in europe and beyond as we strive to transform our food systems away from industrialized models towards a fairer and more sustainable future.

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The research and writing of this book is funded by the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions through a Global Fellowship led by Dr Jonathan Dolley and supervised by the University of Sussex, UK and the Mosim and Salim Research Institute in Seoul, Korea. The title of my research fellowship is ‘Hansalim as a model for solidarity pathways towards sustainable food systems’. This book is to be the main output from my research along with several academic papers. The project website is www.livingtogether.xyz where I will post updates on the research as I go along.

This book is a work in progress that I plan to publish “in real time” so to speak, as it is being written. A kind of open access, open source book.

It is already a collaborative project with co-authors at the Mosim and Salim Research Institute and I hope that this collaboration can extend to it’s readers as well, through the discussions on social media and also through suggested edits via GitHub. So we welcome any input from interested readers who share a passion for the topic of organic and regenerative farming and the cooperative and solidarity economy.

If you want to get involved but you have never heard of GitHub, I have written a brief explanation in the appendix in this book that will hopefully help.

The best place to start though, would be to fill in this google form to introduce yourself, provide comments and suggest questions for investigation.

How to contribute

The book is written using bookdown which builds the online book from R Markdown files hosted on GitHub. The online book is then hosted as a website at book.livingtogether.xyz using Netlify. The book can be edited online directly in GitHub. If you do not already have a GitHub account, sign up for one first and then click on the “Edit this page” icon in the right panel of the book website. GitHub will then ask you to ‘fork’ the repository (unless you have already done so). This just means that you make a copy that you can edit yourself before the edit is added to the master copy. Next you will see the editable version of the R Markdown file that generated the page you were viewing. When you submit a change, write a brief note describing the change and then I will be able to review it and decide whether to include it.

To make more general comments, suggest additional chapters or sections or to suggest new research questions you can use the links in the right hand panel:

  • “Open an issue” takes you to github issues
  • “Introduce yourself & suggest questions.” opens a google form.

Maintainers and contributors must follow this repository’s CODE OF CONDUCT.

The proposed structure of the book

Working title

Living Together: Hansalim as a model for solidarity pathways towards sustainable food systems.

Chapter plan

  1. Background:
    • Brief history of the ecological alternative movement in South Korea and Hansalim’s role and development.
    • Outline of Hansalim’s philosophy and its basis in the Korean indigenous religion of Donghak.
    • Outline influence of this philosophy on other cooperatives in Korea.
    • Brief description of Hansalim’s journey in creating one of the world’s largest organic food cooperatives.
  2. Farmers’ stories.
  3. Employees’ stories.
  4. Consumers’ stories.
    • Chapter 2-4 are personal stories of transformation from across Hansalim covering:
    • Internal journeys.
    • Perspectives on organizational journey.
    • Perspectives on changing context.
    • Sources and processes of innovation and knowledge production (technical, procedural, organizational).
    • Understandings, meanings and metaphors.
    • Looking into the future.
    • Including attention to gender and minority dimensions.
  5. Hansalim as an emerging alternative food system:
    • Description of the food production & supply system.
    • Analysis of enablers, constraints and strategies food system transformation for (internal & external / bottom-up & top-down).
    • Evaluation of economic, environmental and social outcomes. Including qualitative data from chapter 2-4 plus interviews and quantitative data from Hansalim’s records.
    • Social justice: in what ways does Hansalim’s alternative food system tackle poverty and exclusion and empower the poor? What enables or constrains this work?
    • What future strategies can extend Hansalim’s food system transformation? E.g. finding new ways to incorporate urban and peri-urban agriculture; strategies to replicate or expand Hansalim’s approach; what future priorities to pursue; redesigning processes to cope with larger organization. Drawing on my own previous research, academic literature and Hansalim’s experience and research.
  6. Learning lessons for food system transformation in Korea and beyond.
    • Reflection on UK and EU experiences from Korean perspective and exploring what Hansalim can learn from them.
    • Reflecting on lessons from Korea and Hansalim from the UK and EU perspective. Through conversations with activists, commoners, coop leaders and policy-makers in UK and beyond.
    • Recommendations for policy-makers, researchers and practitioner/activists in Korea, EU and beyond.
  7. A donghak pathway to sustainability?
    • Donghak means ‘Eastern Learning’ and it is a philosophical tradition that has been reinterpreted and developed by Hansalim into a contemporary and practical alternative eco-philosophy.
    • What possibilities does Hansalim’s philosophy and model offer for pathways of sustainability transformation beyond food systems into other aspects of social-economic life?
    • Moving beyond the Western mechanistic model of the world and the associated increasingly popular ‘system’ metaphor of transformative change and innovation. What alternative perspectives and metaphors of interaction and transformation does Hansalim’s philosophy and experience bring to theorizing transformative innovation?
    • Conversations with key people in Hansalim, Korean government and other Korean organizations.
    • Rethinking the role of multi-stakeholder cooperatives in sustainability transformations.

These chapters are laid out already down the left hand panel here and their contents will be gradually filled out in draft and final forms as the research and writing progress.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Cover photo by Geonhui Lee on Unsplash