Posted December. 30, 2004 22:37,
The earthquake and tsunamis which hit Southeast Asia have caused a significant death toll on Koreans in the area. The number of dead and missing persons has already risen to more than 10, and some 600 people are unaccounted for. Unfortunately, it seems it will be the worst death toll caused by overseas natural disasters.
It is too much to expect Southeast Asian countries suffering from damage beyond imagination to do their best in investigating the Korean death toll and to rescue the Koreans there. It is the government that should take the lead. Without a doubt, it is an emergency. Moreover, rescue is a very emergent task. Tropical Southeast Asian countries began to bury bodies that have already started to decompose. Under the circumstances, a slow response from the Korean government would certainly mean an increased death toll.
The government is already late in drawing up countermeasures. It is true that the government-ruling party meeting was held to come up with measures at the governmental level. But it has been already four days since the outbreak of the tragedy. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder returned to his office in the middle of his vacation to take the lead in implementing countermeasures. France, for its part, sent Ministry of Foreign Affairs Michel Barnier to the scene. The Korean government is too slow to take action, whereas European countries far away from Southeast Asia wasted no time.
The governments confusing measures are also regrettable. It initially announced to send $600,000 in relief fund, but soon added another $1.4 million in the face of strong accusations. Then, it decided to add yet another $3 million yesterday. That only revealed the confusion in the government which failed to fully grasp the situation.
There are already inundating complaints from victims families and Korean nationals in the disaster-affected countries. Many people in Korea also started to blame the government, contrasting its response with the quick action of other countries. Under the circumstances, the government should renew its determination to rectify the situation. It should not resort to sending some 10 diplomats and 119 rescue workers, but draw up measures on the national level such as sending rescue and search teams to each area with Korean victims to investigate the state of the damage earnestly.