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[Editorial] North Should Release Information and Request International Aid

[Editorial] North Should Release Information and Request International Aid

Posted April. 23, 2004 21:35,   


We are perplexed with mixed feelings as we hear of the explosion of gasoline-loaded trains in North Korea. Although the details are yet to be released, there is no doubt of the seriousness of the situation with the entire area of Yongcheon station at Yongcheon county of North Pyongan province flattened to the ground. Some estimates that there are thousands of casualties as the Yongcheon station area is densely populated with apartment complexes. This really is a bold out-of-the-blue for the North Koreans as if they were not battered enough from economic hardship.

Analyzing from several angles, North Korean authorities may be short-handed in remedying this crisis. Pride comes second to rescue efforts and there is no time to save face, but North Korean authorities have yet to disclose any factual information to the international community for over 24 hours since the explosion. It is just plain irresponsible to insist upon “do-it-ourselves” measures while innocent people are suffering from such terrible disaster. North Korea probably does not even have enough basic medical supplies available at the moment to treat the victims.

North Korean leadership should disclose the real affairs at the scene of the disaster and request aid from the international community. The situation will only worsen with every single second lost in security concerns. Once North Korea decides to let others know about what is happening, the international community, along with the Koreans down south, will set out on aid to help those people in dire need. When Turkey was struck with a disastrous earthquake, we rushed to their aid. We will not stand idly while our brethren suffer.

Now that officials from International Federation of Red Cross have been sent to the scene, we will soon be informed of the situation. Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun of South Korea reported yesterday that “the government will do everything we can,” but given the current stance between North and South Korea, their efforts can only be limited without a factual disclosure of the situation and an official request for aid from North Korea.

North Korean authorities should discard their unconventional secrecy sooner rather than later. That will be the single most effective way to have this crisis under control.