Silencing the noise pollution

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Silencing the noise pollution

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I work on Sundays and get Fridays off. When I am home, I usually want to sleep late, but the speaker in the living room drives me crazy. The apartment complex’s announcements always begin with “From the management office for the residents .?.?.” The messages include all kinds of reminders and notices, urging me to pay maintenance fees on time, to keep my pets clean and quiet and not to flick cigarette ashes on the street. The announcements certainly have a point, but is it really necessary to broadcast the messages to everyone so frequently?

I lived in a multifamily home before I moved into my current apartment, and the aspiring musician living upstairs often made me flee to a nearby cafe. Sometimes, on a bus or in a taxi, the drivers blasting the radio drive me crazy. And then the dissonant combination of loud music with the audio instructions of the navigation device really pushes my threshold. A couple of months ago, I got on an airport shuttle bus at 5 a.m. and the television was on throughout the entire ride. When I go shopping, overwhelming music from each store and the vendors’ shouts make me almost forget what I am shopping for. Not just the busy downtown shopping districts such as Myeongdong and Gangnam, but also the formerly classy neighborhoods such as Samcheong-dong, Insadong and Garosu-gil are overwhelmed with noise pollution.

It is understandable that raising the volume of the music may help with sales. We may tolerate the apartment broadcasts, the televisions on the buses early in the morning, the loud shouting, the evangelical messages on the subway and the campaign rallies. But the problem is that noise pollution cannot be resolved just by being patient. According to the World Health Organization, noise not only damages hearing but also makes people more violent and aggravates health conditions. Developed countries are increasingly paying attention to the level of noise in cities.

In Korea, various regulations addressing noise in apartment buildings and on the streets are newly implemented or finally being enforced. However, noises from daily life cannot be controlled with regulations. We all need to understand that people have the right to be free from noise pollution, and when this right is violated, it will lead to resistance and risks. Ears are different from eyes, as we cannot close off the ears even if we want to. The only solution is for all of us to be more considerate for each other.

* The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Lee Na-ree

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