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Cleaning Up the Tsunami Nightmare

Posted January. 05, 2005 22:21,   


Phuket’s Patong Beach, the biggest victim of the tsunami, was once again swept by a “orange colored tidal wave” Wednesday morning.

Around 200 Koreans from the Korean association of Phuket appeared on the every corner of the beach streets wearing yellow-colored shirts and holding mops and bags to clean and collect waste. In addition, 200 Samsung Electronics employees staying in Bangkok joined the wave.

Most Phuket beaches were restored, but on Patong beach there were still shattered pieces of debris from wave-hit buildings. When the orange wave passed, the grass and buildings were shiny-clean.

“We hope our work will help push away the tsunami nightmare,” said Jin Myeong-pyo, the head of the Korean association. He said that they focused on recovering the bodies of missing Koreans and giving them a proper funeral service, but he promised more efforts to build a new Phuket from now on.

The tsunami caused serious damage to the root of the Korean community of Phuket.

The Korean-owned Panwa Spa, located near the beach, now has nothing left but a crumbled roof. This 300 million-won invested in the business is now about to go up in smoke. As of now, there are no more Korean tourists to be found here either, hardening the difficulties of Koreans living there. This is because most of the 1,000 Koreans in the area live on tourism, including restaurants, and water equipment rentals.

About 100 newlywed couples have canceled their January reservations for honeymoons in Phuket, and many February reservations have also been canceled. Trips to Bangkok are being canceled at a 70 percent rate, even though the city was not even hit by the deadly tidal wave. Now, people seem to regard Thailand as synonymous with a “dead zone.”

“I think it is better than the SARS syndrome, however. The tsunami is a one-time tragedy, at least. Now is time to prepare a new start with no more laments,” the association head stressed.

The Thailand government is planning to turn the tsunami-hit area into an environmental friendly zone. The Korean association of Phuket hopes that the project will transform the place into a much more attractive tour site in the future.

The Phuket provincial government held an event for reopening Kata and Karon beaches in order to highlight the fact that the rehabilitation of most beaches here has been completed. “The tsunami nightmare will be completely gone in six months to a year,” said Sun Time Travel president Whang Myeong-chun confidently, who has been in the tourism industry in Phuket for the past 10 years.