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School Zone or Scream Zone?

Posted May. 04, 2001 10:28,   


`Look at those children jumbled with cars! It`s a mess.`

A homemake Hwang hae-ran ( Keumho 1 dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul),who came to pick up her son after class, pointed the street on which all kinds of cars are rushing in front of Changchung elementary school, Shindang 2 dong, Chung-gu, Seoul, at 11 a.m. on May 4. This area is designated as a school zone, `Children Security Zone,` which encircles the area within 300 meter from a school. However, it is in fact a `Children Danger Zone.`

Ko Gun, the mayor of Seoul city, Song Ja, the representative of the civil coaliton for the practice of serue life, and over 30 celebraties took a walk about 120 meters on the dangerous street in front of the school. First of all, a gas station was found at a street heading to the school, where both children and drivers got nervious in the choas.

About 50 meters forward to school from the gas station, there is a intersection met with a side street. Children`s `acrobatic commuting` continues on this street, which does not discriminate children and traffics. With shrieking hunks, cars and motorcycles were rushing by the children. A 70 meter long security fense to divide the driveway and the sidewalk is constructed on the left side of the shool gate.

Mayor Ko asked Choi Chang-gyun (9, Changchung Elem.G-2), `Where is the most dangerous to go to school?` `The Intersection! Cars are running too fast,` he replied. The Mayor became full of axiety.

It is usually much more dangerous due to the parking violations, even though illegal parkings are rarely found today. `this street is always busy because of the traffics to the Pyonghwa Market and other small businesses nearby the school,` noted a resident Lee Chung-min. He added that he had never seen a traffic police here to help children`s commuting.

Currently, 830 school zones around pre-schools, elementary schools, and schools for special education, are designated in Seoul area. However, the situation of the schools designated as a school zone is not quite different from other`s, according to the analysis of Seoul city.

United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recently released a data showing that the death ratio by the traffic accident and injuries of Korean children (from 1 to 14 yr) is the highest 25.6 per 100 thousands among 26 members of the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD). The number of children killed by traffic accident (697, 47.5 pct) approached almost half of the total children`s death in 1999 (1467).

Mayor Ko promised that the city will remove all illegal or dangerous constructions around the 83 school zones, with the help of the police.

However, Ms Hwang pointed out, `this street is still busy even though the police is controlling the traffic for the visit of the mayor. A constant concern is necessary instead of a mere show business.`

Cha Ji-Wan maruduk@donga.com