[Letter to the editor] Helping hands

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[Letter to the editor] Helping hands


On Dec. 7, a collision between a barge and an oil tanker resulted in a giant oil spill in the Yellow Sea near the Taean Peninsula in South Chungcheong. The contamination turned the sea black and rapidly swept onshore.
As the Korean media reported on the disaster, we were overcome with sorrow. Gradually, people started to gather to lend helping hands to the local people around Taean. Now, three weeks after the terrible event, it is estimated that more than 500,000 people have volunteered to remove crude oil washed ashore and try to clear the sea again.
As a visiting volunteer myself, I shed tears, largely due to awful fumes, while using a cloth to rub stones and pebbles clean of crude oil. I hope that the oil is completely removed so that the fishing industry can recover for the livelihood of the local people.
I am sure that the other volunteers felt the same way I did ― that after all our work, there did not seem much of a difference. But little by little, it will; as an old saying goes, “Little drops of water make a mighty ocean.” A helping hand adds up to an enormous joint effort. This is the dynamic behind the “Miracle of Taean.”
Some people said they were inspired after watching news reports that many Korean people flocked to the area to help out of sympathy. Indeed, Korean people tend to be strongly united in critical moments. Since this is a new year, I suggest we make use of this Korean trait for our national well-being in 2008. Happy New Year!
Park Eun-hye, a student at Sookmyung Women’s University
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