Go to contents

[Editorial] Coping With Yongcheon Disaster Depends On Attitude of North

[Editorial] Coping With Yongcheon Disaster Depends On Attitude of North

Posted April. 26, 2004 21:49,   


A complete picture of the devastating explosion that hit Yongcheon is taking shape through broadcast images and eyewitness descriptions. The blast caused thousands of casualties and destroyed thousands of buildings, turning the area into a virtual battlefield. It is saddening to see North Korean people staring blankly at the ruins.

The images of Yongcheon we see are quite different from those of other countries that have experienced disasters before, which causes us to feel even more pain. Debris of buildings is scattered everywhere, and there are no signs of heavy equipment or rescuers searching for survivors. According to the remarks of an United Nations relief officer, some severely injured children were transferred to hospitals and laid on office cabinets for want of available beds. Those are the scenes that make it hard to believe in North Korea’s announcement that it is capable of handling the accident. These images we see reveal otherwise: that the North must be short of rescue equipment and facilities for curing the wounded.

If the North is clearly at a loss, the only thing it can depend on is outside assistance. Thankfully, countries around the world are willingly giving help. What is required from North Korea at the moment is to accept this manpower and material support from the outside as swiftly as it can to treat victims and repair the damage. The nation must avoid not properly delivering supplies, even though they are abundant, which could happen if the North Korean government does not cooperate.

North Korea should keep an open mind and be more willing accept aid proposals from South Korea during relief talks today. Support from the South comes from brotherly love, and there is no reason to take precautions against it. The North should consider South Korea’s proposals to deliver relief supplies overland. Back in history, North Korea delivered its rice to the South by land during the flood disaster in 1984. There is no reason to limit the means of transportation of relief aid.

The state of emergency is now. No matter if deliveries are made by land, sea or air, the right thing to do is to find the fastest way. The faster North Korea opens access to Yongcheon, the faster the agony of the injured will be alleviated.