Like an excavator at the canal

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Like an excavator at the canal

The author is the head of the international news teamof the JoongAng Ilbo.

Looking back on domestic and international news this year, the Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal is overlapping here and there. On March 23, the container ship was jammed at the critical spot of maritime trade, causing a global logistics crisis. It was an unprecedented accident for a 220,000-ton vessel to be stuck diagonally in the narrow waterway.

The ship prevented thousands of other ships from transporting cargos, and the international attention turned it into various memes. It was compared to the people who were caught among many tasks or helpless and could not move forward.

That’s how Afghan people at the Kabul Airport must have felt as they tried to escape after Taliban occupation. They had no other option when they threw their children over the fence to the U.S. troops. The Middle East refugees waiting for helping hands in the forests on the Polish border thousands of miles from home are not different. They are struggling with cold and starvation as they fell into the trap of the dictatorship in Belarus, using “pushing refugees” as a means to pressure the international community.

Those who attempt to enter the United States illegally and are driven away by guards with whips on the Rio Grande River are not different either. A boat smuggling people from France to England capsized, but rather than being rescued by coast guards, it was told to “go back,” stuck there like the Ever Given.

With wildfires in Siberia and flooding in Germany, the entire Earth may have been the Ever Given this year. Despite the demands to replace greenhouse gas-inducing fossil fuels with alternative energy, COP26 was in a standstill. The foreign minister of Tuvalu, an island nation in the South Pacific, gave a speech underwater to no avail.

With signs of the pandemic subsiding, the world is rushing toward suppressed consumption and growth. Governments around the world are stuck between the two tasks of disease control and economic recovery. As the Omicron variant is spreading, next year won’t be much different.

It took a week for the Ever Given to move again. Tens of thousands of cubic meters of sand and soil were removed from the canal embankment where the ship was stuck, and dozens of tugboats were mobilized.

Another scene caught our attention. There was an excavator constantly scooping out in front of the gigantic vessel that is 400 meters (1,300 feet) long and 60 meters wide. The overwhelming size difference became another meme for “Covid-19 stress versus one walk a day.”

People self-deridingly said not much could be done in the face of an inevitable obstacle. Next year will be just as eventful as this year. And our silent scooping will continue, as the excavator was working at the Suez Canal.
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