ue South Korean farming county, was a backwater until homegrown heroes the Garlic Girl
s became breakout stars and curling silver medalists at last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
In recent months the spotlight has again fallen on Uiseong for a far less glorious rea
son: a smoldering mountain of garbage which highlights the trash crisis in the densely populated nation.
Among the rice paddies and beside the Nakdong River in the
country’s east, a horseshoe-shaped, 170,000-ton heap of trash is spontaneously combusting, spe
wing out plumes of smoke and the nose-scorching, chemical stench of burning plastic.
On a cold February morning, six workers wearing grimy overalls a
nd gas masks clamber over the 50 feet-tall (15 meters) man-made hill, dousing the smo
ke with fire hoses. But as soon as one smoldering spot is extinguished, another flares up.