[WORD_ON_THE_WEB] 'Increase the number of rescue personnel'

Home > Opinion > Word on the Web

print dictionary print

[WORD_ON_THE_WEB] 'Increase the number of rescue personnel'

On Tuesday, a family who lived in a semi-basement apartment in Sillim-dong, southern Seoul were killed as heavy rainfall caused flashfloods. They attempted to call emergency services and contacted an acquaintance to evacuate, but could not open the door. Due to the heavy rainfall, there were no available rescue personnel. When people finally arrived, the apartment was underwater and it was too late to rescue the family.
According to the 2020 Population and Housing Census, the 327,000 households lived in semi-basement apartments. In the 1970s, the government amended the Building Act to make construction companies build basement units when building new residential buildings, with an aim to use them for military purpose including air-raid shelters. These basements were often used for storage, but as more and more people flocked to Seoul, they gradually became makeshift homes. Over the course of time, the government legally permitted semi-basements to be used as residential spaces.

As semi-basement apartments are easily flooded, tragic accidents are common. There are some people who argue that semi-basement apartments need to be outlawed. However, experts point out that if this sort of residential space is banned, the only option that low-income households will have is subdivided apartments. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport attempted to conduct a full investigation on the conditions of households living in semi-basement apartments back in 2020, but the plan fell apart as the COVID-19 pandemic started.
“A semi-basement apartment is an option for the poor. We need to work on other alternatives before banning them.”
“It’s irresponsible to outlaw semi-basement apartments with no proper measures. We need realistic solutions including expanding drainage facilities.”
“We should establish a guideline with which people can swiftly respond to such crises.”
“If there were proper guidelines for evacuation, the family would have not been killed.”
“We need to increase the number of rescue personnel who are available in emergencies.”
“I can’t understand how people were killed because there was nobody available to rescue them.”

BY HWANG JAE-YOUNG, BY HAN HYE-RIM [han.hyerim1@joongang.co.kr]
Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
help-image Social comment?
lock icon

To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

Standards Board Policy (0/250자)