The Miracle Workers

Ulsan is not the Asia of mountaintop monasteries, palm-fringed beaches or opulent royal palaces. A tourist guide for the gritty South Korean coastal city spotlights the petrochemical complex as a major attraction. The streets are mostly jumbles of gray, concrete buildings. Fume-belching smokestacks line the Taehwa River. Looking out from a grass-topped hill near the coast, all you can see is industrial wasteland. Below sprawls a mammoth shipyard, a sea of towering cranes, boxy brown office buildings, and dark factories as big as airplane hangars. The roar of trucks drowns out that of the ocean. Rows of docks and heavy machinery...

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