[EDITORIALS]Delays in aid are preventableIt is good that the government and civic groups have promptly set up relief and assistance measures for the victims of the explosion at a railroad station in the North Korean city of Yongcheon. The South Korean government has promised to send $1 million worth of relief supplies, and civic groups are buying supplies in Chinese cities across the border to send to Yongcheon. This is the first time the government and civilians have cooperated in assisting the North Koreans, and such efforts are expected to benefit North-South relations in the future.
A UN research team has announced that 161 people are dead or missing. The North Korean government announced that another 1,300 people were injured in the explosion. Among the victims were 76 young children, students at a nearby school that caught fire. North Korean authorities asked the international community for help just a day after the explosion, a sign that points to the terrible scale of the disaster.
It is most welcome that countries including the United States have promised to help. It is our hope that the assistance given will be of immediate and practical value.
Unfortunately, three days after the explosion, there is still a serious shortage of medical and relief supplies. Patients with serious burns are suffering acutely because they aren’t able to get treatment, and more lives are being lost daily.
It is a most regrettable situation; while there are good intentions and lots of talk, actual help is not being delivered there properly. North Korea’s isolationist policies are largely to blame for this delay. Nevertheless, we must make multi-faceted efforts to make our relief activities effective.
There seems to be talk about our assistance being channeled through the Red Cross. But this is not enough. The scale of this disaster requires North and South Korea to come up with something on the governmental level. We could use the existing inter-Korean economic cooperation committee as a channel for cooperation. It is important that North and South Korean authorities meet to discuss the details of the contents and the delivery method of the aid as soon as possible. In the future, it would be desirable to examine the possibility of establishing a inter-Korean relief assistance system.