Transboundary Air Pollution in Northeast Asia: Two Pathways Forward for China and South Korea

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Simply put, air pollution kills. Each year, more than 5.5 million people die from illnesses caused by breathing polluted air worldwide. In 2013 alone, one in ten deaths globally were associated with air pollution. Such alarming statistics ought to provide governments a strong incentive to combat air pollution, but toxic air unrelentingly blankets places like New Delhi, Seoul, and Bangkok. Fundamentally, this may be because humans take the atmosphere for granted as a place to dump industrial waste. This article will discuss two alternative pathways to addressing transboundary air pollution between China and South Korea. One involves binding international dispute resolution based on the principles of Trail Smelter, and the other promotes deeper bilateral cooperation through consensus-building, transboundary environmental impact assessment, and private standard-setting.