[EDITORIALS]Designate disaster zonesThe damage done by heavy snowfall to South Jeolla province is serious. Snow continues to fall in the area, further exacerbating the problems there before repair work can be completed. With a critical shortage of personnel and equipment to carry out repairs, South Jeolla farmers are faced with a bleak future.
In some areas, there is more than 90 centimeters (35.4 inches) of snow, and plastic greenhouses and cattle sheds were destroyed. The greenhouses collapsed under the weight of snow, and vegetables entering their harvest season, such as peppers and pumpkins, were frozen. The damage to ginseng farms, which farmers have spent years to build, has caused tens of billions of won in losses. So far, the estimated financial damage is over 170 billion won ($168 million). This is on par with the financial loss nationwide caused by the last four typhoons to hit the country.
Another problem is that less than half of all damaged facilities have been repaired. Snow-blocked roads make it difficult to deliver the necessary equipment, and the number of available soldiers and civil servants is not large enough to meet the workforce needed. In addition, the harsh weather has kept volunteers at bay. Because of these problems, in an increasing number of cases restoration work is being halted.
Those in the damaged areas are calling for them to be designated special disaster zones, but the government is arguing that the level of damage falls short of the standard required for this. Our farmers are under another burden ― the opening of the agricultural market ― and the government must help them recover by providing the support usually warranted to special disaster zones.
Koreans have always lent a hand to each other in difficult times like these, and we should get together once again so that the warmth of our heart can help farmers fight the biting winter.