[EDITORIALS]Unnecessarily dangerousAfter the news that eight members of the Sejong base in Antarctica were missing, the entire nation was anxious that they be found. Of the eight missing, seven were rescued, but Jeon Jae-gyu lost his life. We grieved at the loss. His sprit of challenge composed of dreams and passion will be remembered forever by the young scientists of the world.
Despite our long history, we have little experience in expeditions to the world. Sejong base in Antarctica was the advance base of our efforts to widen our activities in the world. The young researchers at the base are the heroes of our country.
And yet, the reality is gloomy. Most of the countries that operate bases on Antarctica had iceboats and aircraft, but rubber boats were the only mean of transportation at Sejong base. Budgets were too tight to operate the base more than minimally, and the equipment installed 15 years ago has been fraying. Changes in weather are uncontrollable, but equipment is something that can be prepared in advance.
Yet the government did not listen to the researchers’ appeals for more support. Critics said the accident was a predestined disaster triggered by poor equipment.
South Korea became a participant in the Antarctic Treaty in 1989 and has accumulated significant knowledge about the resources near the South Pole. The government must provide sufficient support for polar research and modernize the researchers’ safety equipment. Because an icebreaker is only used for three months during the winter, researchers asked the government to provide them with an iceboat that would also function as a research boat to study resources in the South Pacific Ocean. The government should listen carefully to such a request.
Becoming an advanced nation by developing science and technology is a long-term project that will determine our nation’s future. And that goal is only possible to achieve when young scientists continue to meet challenges. Antarctica is the only unexplored place left on earth and has huge potential. Our frontier spirit in Antarctica will be strengthened if we learn from this accident.