[EDITORIALS]Help our northern brothersIt is reported that a huge explosion at a train station in Yongcheon, North Korea, has caused thousands of casualties. Although the scope of the damage is not yet known, it seems certain that a large number of people have been affected, since many apartments and factories are concentrated around the station area. We can imagine the bitterness of residents there, afflicted with such a disaster when they have already been suffering from acute shortages of food and raw materials. We can presume that the situation is dire, since medical facilities in the Yongcheon area are backward and medical supplies are scarce.
Our immediate concern is providing medical care to the wounded and getting relief packages to the area. Seoul has had experience sending rescue parties and other aid to Taiwan and Iran when they were struck by earthquakes. Now that our brethren in the North are in a miserable situation, how can we turn away? It is timely that it is already government policy to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea. The government must convey its intention to provide assistance to the victims of this diasaster through all available channels. It should do so in a hurry. Swift action is vital to save lives.
In the past, providing aid to the North has been criticized as “one-sided help,” or as a “misappropriation” of funds. Since the relief this time is based purely on humanitarian grounds, it will be easy to secure a consensus among our people. Therefore, it is desirable that not only the government, but various civic groups start relief campaigns for North Korean victims.
Here, the most important factor is a change of attitude in the North. Authorities there should not try to conceal the truth about this. They must clarify the cause of the accident, and the details of the destruction, and request help from the international community. In the past, North Korean authorities have tried to cover up disasters by saying, “There was no such accident,” or “This is an intrigue plotted outside North Korea.” They should not repeat those mistakes. There is no shame in asking for help when calamity strikes. North Korean authorities must keep in mind that alleviating the suffering of disaster victims is their duty, and ask the world for help.