[EDITORIALS]Contempt for lifeThe numbers that serve as beacons for people in distress, 112 and 119, have turned into numbers of despair. Kim Won-seop, a Korean-Chinese who was in Korea illegally, died of cold in the center of Seoul, although he pleaded for help 14 times over the telephone. That is a warning signal that the last rays of hope for our society are dying out.
In the freezing cold of minus 4 degrees centigrade, he made several calls on a cell phone to the emergency reporting system over a span of three hours and ten minutes. But the emergency relief center at 119 asked him to call 112, and the 112 center asked him to call from a public phone booth. They asked him this and that but failed to help him. The fact that he dialed 112 only 55 minutes before his body was found by a street sweeper shows that he hung on to life with all the energy he had left.
The place where he died is very close to a regular police patrol route, so the police could have saved his life if only they had tried to search for him.
Grieving over Mr. Kim’s death, we point out that the emergency assistance system is of no use if our society continues to treat human life lightly. People at the 119 center and the 112 center made the excuse that they could not figure out Mr. Kim’s location because he contradicted himself. But considering that the call records showed only two to four minutes of conversations each, they must have responded to his call in a pro forma way. They took his explanation about his location and his appeal,”I cannot go home because it is too cold and I am weak,” as that of a drunken man’s thick-tongued attempts to talk.
We know that there are on average 2,000 calls a day to 112, and most of them are made for fun or for trivial matters. But those on duty must answer them with the attitude that someone could be in an emergency situation. It is urgent that we change our way of thinking so that we cherish the value of a life.
But we in our warm homes have responsibilities to the emergency system as well. We admit that on the other end of Mr. Kim’s death lies our negligence, abuse and mockery of the emergency calling system.