[EDITORIALS]Help to North slow to arriveFour days have passed since the train explosion at Yongcheon, North Korea, but treatment for the injured and assistance for those who suffer damage have not been provided properly. This is truly unfortunate.
To provide effective aid, the two Korea’s Red Cross officials talked at the truce village of Panmunjeom yesterday, but failed to reach a substantial agreement. South Korea proposed sending aid packages overland and dispatching a hospital ship to provide help as soon as possible. The North, however, rejected the offers, and asked the South to send aid packages via a ship scheduled to depart for Nampo on Wednesday.
We can guess why the North is reacting like that, and we do not want to argue about it. Misfortune can come to anyone. One can receive help during hardships and provide help to others. We hope North Korea understands the South’s sincerity in helping the North Koreans out of brotherly love. Rescuing brothers suffering from unexpected accidents is more important than anything.
The disaster in Yongcheon is still unfolding, and the situation is beyond our imagination. The death toll keeps rising, and more than 8,000 people have lost homes. Children suffering from severe burns are lying in wards, receiving no treatment.
After seeing such scenes, we feel disturbed and sad. About 300 critically wounded people need medical treatment as soon as possible, but no help was given to them, reports said. In the South, citizens are earnestly engaged in initiatives to send medicine and necessities to the North.
But we feel that the government relief measures are insufficient. The government said it would help the North through South Korea’s Red Cross. Taking into account the magnitude and severity of the disaster, the government should have acted more actively and directly, rather than handling the situation through the Red Cross.
Civilian efforts are destined to be slow and weak compared to those of the government. Four days have passed, but South Korea’s aid packages have not yet been loaded on ships. Recovery work at the disaster site is also not simple. It is unbelievable that shovels and ox-carts are the only things available in the North for this purpose.
It is not too late for the government to draw up drastic measures. It should provide aid packages similar to what it had provided to help victims of a similar disaster in the South. For example, why not propose to send “100 bulldozers?” How about making an aid package of tents, daily necessities, medicine and medical equipment to help the victims?
It is South Korea’s duty as brethren to show such an attitude. Whether the North will accept the offers is a separate matter. But we should still show North Koreans that we will provide what is needed at the right time.