Gov’t kicks off antisuicide campaigns(Yonhap)

#suicide #Korea #MoHW #really_think_it_is_a_matter_of_taking_interest_to_the_issue? #SERIOUSLY???

Most suicidable country in OECD countries launch “postbox Campaign” with promotional dancing singing events to people feel livable. Shame.

OECD suicide trend

South Korea’s health ministry on Thursday said it launched a set of campaigns to prevent suicides in an effort to cope with an uptrend in the number of people taking their own lives.
The campaigns aim to create a “life-respecting culture” to ward off suicide attempts and help people who have attempted to kill themselves by asking them if they are “fine,” the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

The “Postbox Campaign” will encourage people to write letters and post them on social networking service platforms, such as Facebook, the ministry said.

The ministry said it will also conduct a series of promotional events by dancers and singers that aim to talk about hope instead of despair.

The ministry said 93.4 percent of those who committed suicide have sent signals before their deaths, noting that suicides can be largely prevented through people paying attention.

“The issue of suicide can be solved like in Japan and Finland where people took interests in the issue,” a ministry official said.

The number of suicides has been increasing over the years.

There were 21.8 suicide cases per 100,000 people in 2006, 26 in 2008 and 31.2 cases in 2010. In 2011, more than 15,000 people took their own lives, and the number of daily suicide victims came to 44.

South Korea has the highest suicide rate among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with an average of 29.1 people per 100,000 taking their own lives in 2012, far surpassing the OECD average of 12, according to the OECD. (Yonhap)

Fiscal plan inadequate to cover welfare spending

#Welfare_spending #10.4%/GDP(2014) #S.Korea #fiscal_plan_for_welfare_needed

Finance Ministry officials have suggested the national budget will exceed 400 trillion won ($364 billion) for the first time next year, while reassuring the state debt will still be held below 40 percent of gross domestic product.

A senior ministry official said last week the 2017 budget would increase by more than 3.5 percent from this year’s 386.4 trillion won to hover slightly above the 400 trillion won mark.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added that, despite the planned increase in fiscal spending, it might be possible to keep the national debt to GDP ratio in the 39 percent range.

The figure, which remained at 34.3 percent in 2013 when President Park Geun-hye’s administration was installed, is projected to rise to 40.1 percent in 2016. Submitting an 11 trillion-won supplementary budget plan to the parliament last month, the Finance Ministry said the national debt to GDP ratio might be down to 39.3 percent.

Behind financial authorities’ confidence that an expansionary budget will not further undermine fiscal soundness is a continuous increase in tax revenues.

According to government data, national tax revenues rose by 19 trillion won from a year earlier to 125.6 trillion won in the first half of this year. The amount accounted for 56.3 percent of the annual revenue target of 222.9 trillion won.

Corporate, income and value-added taxes were collected more than expected due to improved profitability of companies, a boom in the real estate market and an increase in private consumption.

Finance Ministry officials say the increase in tax revenues enables them to minimize the issuance of state bonds and repay part of the existing government debt.

South Korea’s national debt as a percentage of GDP may not seem high compared with other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The country’s national debt to GDP ratio of 37.9 percent in 2015 was far lower than 230 percent for Japan, 113.6 percent for US and 78.7 percent for Germany.

What is worrisome is that Korea has been seeing its national debt rise at the fastest pace among major economies in recent years and this trend is seen to accelerate in the coming decades.

In its long-term fiscal outlook released last year, the Finance Ministry warned that the debt ratio could surge above 90 percent by 2060 if new spending programs were put in place amid a slowdown in economic growth.

In a bid to secure fiscal soundness over the long term, the ministry last week disclosed a draft bill that would make it compulsory for the central government to keep debt below 45 percent of GDP and set the ceiling for the annual budget deficit at 3 percent of GDP.

Critics raise doubts about whether such fiscal targets will remain within reach down the road as the draft law leaves room for the government to go beyond the spending limit when the economic situation worsens.

This consideration may be necessary to prevent the economy already stuck in a low-growth rut from being dragged deeper into recession.

What is more worrying for experts is a lack of concrete measures to finance expanded welfare programs, which they note will make the government’s fiscal scheme unviable in the long run.

In a recent meeting with reporters, Vice Finance Minister Song Eon-seok dismissed concerns that welfare spending would be reduced to meet the fiscal requirements.

“The government will remain committed to adequate expenditure on welfare,” he said.

But he fell short of suggesting credible measures to fund an expanded set of benefit programs, the cost of which will increase rapidly due to an aging population and a low birthrate.

According to OECD data, Korea’s welfare spending to GDP ratio remained at 10.4 percent in 2014, less than half of the OECD average at 21.6 percent.

Experts note it may be too complacent for government policymakers to expect tax revenues to continuously increase to shore up their long-term fiscal scheme. Corporate profits may decline amid the prolonged economic slump and private consumption and real estate deals are likely to dampen as stimulus measures run out of stock.

Experts say serious consideration now needs to be given to raising taxes to meet rising welfare demand while keeping fiscal health.

“What is urgently needed is a way to ensure a stable and substantial increase in revenues rather than an adherence to fiscal rules,” said Oh Gun-ho, who leads a civic group devoted to building up a welfare society.

The administrations of President Park and her predecessor Lee Myung-bak have opposed increasing taxes, arguing the measure would hamper efforts to reinvigorate the economy. However, experts say that it is time to discuss overhauling the taxation system to increase revenues in a way the additional burden will be shared by big corporations, the rich and a larger proportion of wage earners.

By Kim Kyung-ho (

Six Novartis Korea Managers Indicted Over Illegal Payments to Doctors

#Novatis #rebate_AKA_bribery_scandle #Korea

former chief executive of South Korean unit of Swiss drug company on prosecutors’ list

The Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The Swiss pharmaceutical company expressed regret, but also said such conduct would not have been sanctioned by the “most senior management.”ENLARGE
The Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The Swiss pharmaceutical company expressed regret, but also said such conduct would not have been sanctioned by the “most senior management.” PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL—Prosecutors have indicted a former chief executive of the South Korean unit of Novartis and five other former and current managers over allegations they illegally paid doctors 2.6 billion won ($2.3 million) in return for prescribing the company’s drugs.

In response, the Swiss pharmaceutical company expressed regret through a statement, but said such conduct wouldn’t have been sanctioned by the “most senior management” at Novartis Korea.

“Novartis does not tolerate misconduct and we are already implementing a remediation plan in Korea based on the findings from our own investigation,” the Basel-based company said.

Paul Barrett, an official from Novartis International, said the company could provide no further detail on the case before the trial proceedings.

The executives indicted include former Novartis Korea chief executive Moon Hak-sun, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Barrett said Mr. Moon had agreed to take a temporary leave of absence in April. Novartis did not identify the other former and current executives charged and did not provide any contact details for Mr. Moon or his attorney.

The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office said it also indicted 28 others, including 15 doctors and six publishers of medical journals, over their suspected involvement in transactions that took place between 2011 and January this year. None of the suspects has been arrested.

South Korean laws ban drug companies from providing doctors rebates or discounts for the drugs they prescribe.


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“Government Should Not Cancel Youth Allowance Project” District Heads in Seoul Oppose Government Position(kyunghyang)


#youth_allowance #Seoul #MoHW #going_on_court

The heads of gus, local districts in Seoul are opposing the central government’s latest move to withdraw the city’s Youth Activities Support Project (Youth Allowance Project) claiming, “It is an unfair infringement of local autonomy.” The city of Seoul decided to respond aggressively to the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s ex officio cancellation of the Youth Allowance Project and to file a lawsuit at the Supreme Court this week.

The Association of Gu Chiefs in Seoul released a joint statement on August 7 and argued, “The government has intentionally adopted a broad interpretation in defining ‘social service’ stipulated in the Social Security Act and is violating the local government’s right to make policy decisions.”

The association said, “It is essentially the sole task of the local government to handle social security related affairs necessary to improve resident welfare,” and called for the welfare ministry to withdraw its cancellation of the project.

The city plans to submit a lawsuit to cancel the welfare ministry’s cancellation and file for an injunction at the Supreme Court as early as this coming 11-12 and to seek a quick ruling if possible. If the Supreme Court recognizes their application for injunction, they will have the grounds for providing the allowance in the second month. The city plans to emphasize the fact that the discussion with the welfare ministry stipulated in the Framework Act on Social Security does not call for an agreement or approval.

Meanwhile, a survey showed that six out of ten Seoul citizens believed that the youth allowance would be helpful to young low-income job seekers. According to the results of an online survey on Seoul’s Youth Activities Support Project, 61.5% of the respondents answered that the youth allowance would help young people with low incomes seek employment, whereas 38.5% answered that it would not help. As for the conflicts between the welfare ministry and the city of Seoul concerning the youth allowance, half (50.3%) of the respondents answered that the central government was intervening excessively. Among the respondents 40.1% said that the latest measure was a natural action taken by the central government.

The latest survey was conducted from July 22 to 25 among 2,495 citizens residing in Seoul registered as the panel for online surveys. The online panel were members whose actual names were verified and among the respondents the percentage of people in their twenties, subject to the Youth Allowance Project, was 13.7%.


2 words keep sick Samsung workers from data: trade secrets

#samsung #banolim #trade_secret #workplace_safety

2 words keep sick Samsung workers from data: trade secrets

In this April 22, 2016 photo, Hwang Sang-gi, father of Hwang Yu-mi, a former Samsung factory worker who died of leukemia at the age of 22, wears shoes in order to an interview outside Samsung buildings in Seoul, South Korea. Yu-mi went to work bathing silicon wafers in chemicals at a Samsung factory that makes computer chips for laptops and other devices. Four years later, she died of leukemia. Sang-gi launched a movement demanding the government investigate health risks at Samsung Electronics Co. factories after learning another worker at the same semiconductor line of Yu-mi also had died of leukemia. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — As a high school senior, Hwang Yu-mi went to work bathing silicon wafers in chemicals at a Samsung factory that makes computer chips for laptops and other devices. She died of leukemia four years later.

After Yu-mi’s 2007 death, her father, Hwang Sang-gi, learned a 30-year-old worker at the same semiconductor line also had died of leukemia. The taxi driver launched a movement demanding the government investigate health risks at Samsung Electronics Co. factories.

When Hwang sued after his claim for government compensation was denied, he struggled to get details about the factory environment. Samsung did not release that information to worker-safety officials.

An Associated Press investigation has found South Korean authorities have repeatedly withheld from workers and bereaved families crucial information about chemicals used at Samsung’s computer chip and liquid crystal display factories. Sick workers need access to such data through the government or courts to apply for workers’ compensation. Without it, government rejections are common.

In at least six cases involving 10 workers, the justification for withholding the information was trade secrets.

South Korean law bars government agencies from withholding public health and safety-related information because of trade-secrets concerns, but there are no penalties for violations.

Samsung no longer omits lists of chemicals used on production lines from reports, as it did in Hwang Yu-mi’s case. But officials have withheld details about exposure levels and how chemicals are managed.

“Our fight is often against trade secrets. Any contents that may not work in Samsung’s favor were deleted as trade secrets,” said Lim Ja-woon, a lawyer for 15 sick Samsung workers.

Lim’s clients have been unable to see full, third-party reports on factory inspections and have accessed only excerpts of some independent inspections in some court rulings, he said.

Samsung says it has never “intentionally” blocked workers from accessing information and that it is transparent about all chemicals it is required to disclose to the government. It said in a statement that information disclosure was never “illegally prevented.”

“We have a right to protect our information from going to a third party,” Baik Soo-ha, a Samsung Electronics vice president, told the AP.

Government policies have generally favored Samsung and other corporate conglomerates that powered South Korea’s rapid industrialization after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Officials say corporate interests take priority, evaluating trade secrets claims is difficult, and they fear being sued for sharing data against a company’s will.

“We have to keep secrets that belong to our clients,” said Yang Won-baek, of the Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, or KOSHA.

Samsung has dominated memory-chip makers since the early 1990s. Toxic and often carcinogenic materials are commonly used to produce semiconductors, mobile phones and LCDs, including arsenic, acetone, methane, sulfuric acid and lead.

The worker safety group Banolim has documented more than 200 cases of serious illnesses including leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis among former Samsung semiconductor and LCD workers. Seventy-six have died, most in their 20s and 30s.

Worker safety advocates want South Korea’s courts and government to more flexibly interpret links between workplace conditions and diseases, since exact causes of many factory workers’ ailments are unknown. They also want thorough disclosure of workplace hazards.

Since 2008, 56 workers have sought occupational safety compensation from the government. Only 10 won compensation, most after years of court battles. Half the remaining claims were rejected and half remain under review.

Families of the victims often deplete their savings and sell their homes to pay hospital bills. Some workers end up incapacitated and unable to work.

Left with few options, more than 100 families accepted a compensation plan Samsung proposed last year, but many rejected it.

Hwang Sang-gi said Samsung offered him 1 billion won ($864,000) in 2007 to not pursue a case over his daughter’s death. He said no, founded Banolim and joined four former Samsung semiconductor workers suffering from various blood cancers in filing for workers’ compensation.

In 2014, seven years after Yu-mi’s death, an appeals court affirmed a lower court’s finding of “a significant causal relationship” between Yu-mi’s leukemia and her likely exposure to benzene, other chemicals and ionized radiation at work. Hwang Sang-gi received nearly $175,000 from the government.

Samsung’s CEO issued a formal apology in 2014, though some ailing workers consider it inadequate. The company promised to give workers documents they need to seek compensation, and this year launched a committee to oversee independent inspections of some factories.

Workers and their bereaved families want more a complete apology and changes in how compensation is awarded. Hwang and other campaigners regularly protest outside Samsung’s Gangnam complex. They view suing Samsung as a poor option; the standard of proof would be higher than in workers’ compensation cases, and they couldn’t seek punitive damages.

They also say it remains difficult to get details about working conditions.

Labor ministry official Goo Ja-hwan said the government usually accepts companies’ requests to keep details secret. “We cannot evaluate whether things that companies have hidden as secrets are real trade secrets or not,” he said.

Baskut Tuncak, the U.N. special rapporteur on hazardous substances and waste, said in a phone interview that such policies don’t protect workers.

“That simply allows their abuse of the system where information about hazardous substances is hidden from the public from victims under claims of confidentiality,” he said.

Seoul city starts providing allowances to young job seekers

original article

#unemployment #basic_income #Seoul_city #MoWH_opposing

SEOUL, Aug. 3 (Yonhap) — The Seoul city government started a controversial program that provides allowances to thousands of young job seekers Wednesday, which it said aims to help people maintain basic living standards while they try to find work.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it has selected a total of 3,000 applicants and will provide them with 500,000 won (US$448) per month, for up to six months.

The plan, which has been opposed by the central government, is designed to support people from ages 19 to 29, who have lived in the capital city for a year or more and work less than 30 hours a week. Enrolled students cannot apply for the program.

The city government said it has already provided the allowance to 2,831 applicants, who have signed agreements with the metropolitan government, earlier on Wednesday.

More than 6,000 people submitted applications in July. The city government said the final list is based on their income level, period of unemployment and whether they have families to support.

The metropolitan government has allocated some 9 billion won to test run the plan this year before expanding it in the years to come.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare, meanwhile, immediately issued a correction order to revoke the city government’s decision.

The ministry stressed that the allowance plan does not root out the fundamental cause of the high unemployment rate and that it will only lead to more side effects down the line, including serious moral hazards among young job seekers.

“There is no safeguard to keep tabs on where people spend the free handouts,” a government source said.

The unemployment rate for young people aged from 15 to 29 reached 10.3 percent last month, up from May’s 9.7 percent, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea.

Students study at a local college library in Seoul on July 13, 2016, following the high unemployment rate for young adults in the country amid a protracted economic slowdown. The unemployment rate for young people, aged from 15 to 29, reached 10.3 percent last month, up from May’s 9.7 percent, according to the report compiled by Statistics Korea. (Yonhap)

Nurse at Samsung hospital diagnosed with tuberculosis

#tuberculosis #first_in_OECD_countries #nosocomial_infection #K-CDC #testing_all_Koreans_twice_lifetime #seriously??

A nurse working at a pediatric unit at one of the major general hospitals in Seoul has been diagnosed with tuberculosis, just weeks after another TB case was reported among nurses at a different hospital in the city, raising concerns over the nation’s control of the disease.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 27-year-old nurse was diagnosed with the disease Monday during a regular health examination provided by her employer — the Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul.

Prior to the diagnosis, she had been working at a pediatric unit at the hospital, specifically caring for patients with blood cancers. A total of 86 children who have been treated at the unit, as well as 43 health care workers who spent time with the nurse, are being tested for TB, the KCDC said. So far, 37 of the 43 health care workers have tested negative. Results are still pending for the other six.

Last month, a 32-year-old nurse, who was also working at a pediatric unit at the Ewha Womans University Medical Center, was diagnosed with TB through a regular health checkup. She had been working at the hospital’s intensive care unit for newborns. Following her diagnosis, 166 babies and 50 health care workers were tested.

Among them, two infants were diagnosed with latent TB — a condition in which the TB bacteria is in the body but inactive and causing no symptoms. Without treatment, about 5 to 10 percent of latent TB patients are known to develop TB at some point in their lives.

South Korea has recently seen a number of TB cases at facilities with a large number of people, such as schools and postpartum centers. Last year, TB cases were reported in 974 schools, 332 military bases and 91 day care centers and postpartum care facilities.

To tackle the issue, the Health Ministry announced in March that all Koreans would be required to be tested for latent TB at least twice in their lifetime, at age 15 and 40, starting next year.

TB treatments became free for all patients in Korea last month. South Korea currently has the highest incidence rate of TB among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, partly due to the lack of epidemiological research of the disease since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Those who have visited the Samsung Medical Center and would like to get tested for TB can contact the hospital at (02) 3410-2227 or the state-run health center in southern Seoul at (02) 3423-7133.

What the gov’t won’t say about the electromagnetic waves emitted by THAAD (hankyoreh)

[Analysis] What the gov’t won’t say about the electromagnetic waves emitted by THAAD

#THAAD #health_risk #safety #Korea

For now, the government is claiming that the waves pose no health risk to residents, but further examination is needed

RF electromagnetic radiation can cause serious burns and internal injury).

Following the South Korean government’s sudden announcement earlier this month of the deployment site for the US military’s THAAD missile defense system, there has been a fierce debate about the electromagnetic waves emitted by the THAAD radar.While the government has used a variety of strategies in a public relations campaign designed to convince residents of Seongju County that the electromagnetic waves are of no concern, this does not appear to be much consolation for the people who will have the radar base in their backyards.Electromagnetic waves move at the speed of light during the regular oscillation of electric fields and magnetic fields. The word “electromagnetic wave” has probably reminded many people of the harmful ELF (extremely low frequency) electromagnetic waves that are produced by power lines and household appliances such as electric blankets and televisions. But electromagnetic waves are in fact an extensive category including the various frequencies used in broadcasting and telecommunications and even sunlight.THAAD’s eye is the AN/TPY-2(TM) radar, which identifies targets by shooting a beam of electromagnetic waves into the area under observation and detecting any waves that bounce back.These electromagnetic waves are X-band microwaves with a frequency of 8 to 12 GHz (gigahertz) and a wavelength of 2.5 to 3.75 cm. The X-band falls between the C-band (4-8 GHz) and the Ku-band (12-18 GHz), as defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).The X-band is used around the world not only by military radars but also by radars on civilian vessels, radars for meteorological observations, the radar guns that police point at speeding cars and ham radio operators. Experts are reluctant to answer questions about safetyThe microwaves created in the THAAD radar’s electromagnetic wave generator pass through an amplifier and are then released toward the target area through the antenna. While data has not been made public about the output of the antenna that determines the strength of the radar’s electromagnetic waves, it must be very strong, given THAAD’s detection range.The US army’s instruction manual for the AN/TPY-2(FBM) states that the radar’s range for detecting an enemy missile prior to the intermediate stage of its trajectory is at least 1,000km. The AN/TPY-2(FBM) and the AN/TPY-2(TM) radars have the same hardware, and only their software is different, the manual explains.

A Ministry of National Defense cartoon explaining the THAAD missile defense system

The South Korean government has established and regulates human exposure levels in regard to microwaves and other electromagnetic waves.The US army’s instruction manual for the AN/TPY-2(FBM) radar states that radiation from the electromagnetic waves emitted from the radar antenna can cause severe burns and internal injuries, and the army has declared 100 meters in front of the THAAD radar deployed in Guam to be off-limits.The general sense that the microwaves emitted by the radar could be harmful to the human body is not being debated. The question is what effect will be had on Seongju residents by the electromagnetic waves that will be emitted at a specific strength from the top of one particular hill.As of July 24, the Hankyoreh had managed to get in touch with five of the seven experts who co-authored the book “Radar Engineering and the Use of Electronic Warfare” (published by the Korean Institute of Electromagnetic Engineering and Science), and all five of these experts answered this question by noting that there was not enough information to make a judgment.While none of the experts said the radar would have an effect and some of them predicted that it would not have an effect, all of them avoided categorical language.“We only know that the radar uses the X-band without knowing anything about the pattern of the antenna or about its output capacity. That’s why no scientist can speak with confidence,” said Myeong Ro-hun, a professor of electrical and electronic engineering at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).“If the measurement and simulation values from the place where [the radio] is actually being operated are correct, we have to trust the values of the simulation that they performed with those materials in the South Korean terrain. If the resulting values are lower than international accepted levels, we ought to conclude that it‘s safe,” said Park Dong-cheol, a professor of electrical engineering and information technology at Chungnam National University. The results of such an analysis have never been made public.These experts all held the view that the effect the electromagnetic waves will have on the area near the radar can vary substantially with the antenna output, the radiation pattern and the angle of orientation.This caveat means that the South Korean Defense Ministry’s measurement of the electromagnetic waves emitted from the THAAD radar on Guam – which were supposedly just 0.007% of the 10w/ square meter maximum tolerated for the human body – should not be treated as very significant. No information was released or reviewed about the output or angle of the electromagnetic beam that the radar was emitting at the time of measurement.The effect of electromagnetic waves on the human body is a question that is even more difficult to answer. In order to properly assess the effect on the human body, it would be necessary to consider a variety of levels of exposure and the various qualities of the subjects being exposed. Even electromagnetic waves that would have a negligible effect on the average individual could be dangerous for embryos or fetuses that are undergoing cellular division in the reproductive system or the womb. But scientists are only now learning about the effect that electromagnetic waves from mobile phones have on the brain and other organs.The two main pieces of evidence that the Defense Ministry has offered to support its categorical statement that the THAAD radar that will be deployed at Seongju will not have an effect on the locals are either incorrect or disregard half of the facts.The Ministry has stated that the difference in elevation between the planned radar installation and the Seongju downtown area is 400 meters. Since the radar will be shooting waves into the sky from such a high place, the Ministry has said, there is no reason to worry.But in fact, the actual elevation of the hill that the radar is supposed to be installed on is 383.4 meters in elevation above sea level. The Ministry‘s claims would suggest that the Seongju downtown would be underwater. Considering that Seongju downtown is located at an elevation of 44.5 meters, the actual difference in elevation because the two points is 61 meters less than the Ministry claimed. Electromagnetic waves also affect surrounding areaAnother important piece of evidence offered by the Ministry of National Defense in claiming the electromagnetic waves will have no impact is the strongly straight-line nature of the radar waves. The argument is that residents should not worry even if the waves from the radar are passing directly overhead, since they would merely move straight forward without scattering. But a property of waves emitted by an antenna is that they radiate to the surrounding area before moving straight ahead. Even a directional radar antenna designed to only send waves in the target direction will inevitably radiate some electromagnetic waves to additional minor lobes such as side lobes and back lobes rather than in the intended direction (the main lobe).“Because the level is small, a decision should be made on whether it’s a meaningful level, but there are always side lobes and back lobes, and it‘s impossible to get rid of them 100%,” said Park Dong-cheol. “Engineers can only work on reducing it once it approaches permissible levels.”With the government offering only half an explanation – emphasizing the straight-line nature of the electromagnetic waves while ignoring their radiation properties – the residents’ continued apprehensions appear natural.In response to the continued controversy over the THAAD radar waves‘ safety, the Ministry of National Defense pledged to relocate the radar and conduct an after-the-fact environment impact assessment once it is in place. The after-the-fact procedure is part of a formal environmental impact assessment according to the Environment Impact Assessment Act that is not conducted in smaller-scale assessments. Ordinary assessments also require the collecting of resident opinions. The question for many now is how the ministry plans to honor its own assessment pledge.By Kim Jeong-soo, senior staff writer

Aid groups voice criticism of government’s new overseas aid plan(Hankyoreh)

#Korea_Aid #Park_Guen_hye #ODA_Watch

New model for developmental aid for Africa is a food truck filled with Bibimbab?????? Seriously?

President Park Geun-hye and Kenyan first lady Margaret Kenyatta talk to the cooks at a Korea Aid test event in Nairobi, May 31. (Yonhap News)

The Korea Aid program, heavily publicized by the government as a “new South Korean model of official development assistance (ODA)” with President Park Geun-hye’s recent Africa visit, is running into fierce objections from groups involved in international development assistance efforts.While Seoul has cited the project as one of the top three results of Park’s visit, the groups are calling for an immediate end to what they have called “a mere show to promote South Korea rather than real aid.”An investigation by the Hankyoreh on June 3 showed that Korea Aid was not included in the administration’s general implementation plan for 2016-17 international development assistance as recently as May. Many critics are now saying the project was instead clapped together in time for Park’s tour.The basis for the Korea Aid program was reported to be an idea that Park herself presented earlier this year.A joint press release on May 25 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism (MCST), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA), and the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) promoted Korea Aid as a “mobile development assistance project using vehicles for public health, food, and culture” as part of an effort to “increase development assistance in Africa, which has many of [the world’s] poorest countries and poorest populations.”The administration described Korea Aid as a “new South Korean development assistance model” combining development assistance with public health, food, and culture elements included alongside visiting services.Seoul previously attempted a test run of Korea Aid in which ten vehicles were sent to each of the three countries visited by Park: Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya. The vehicles included three related to public health (one check-up vehicle and two ambulances), four for food (three food trucks and one refrigerated truck), one video truck for culture, and two support vehicles. Food primarily consisted of bibimbap(mixed rice and vegetables) and other rice dishes, while videos for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, K-Pop, and breakdancing were shown by culture vehicles and fetal imaging and health kits were provided for public health.At a special talk before the African Union on May 27, Park described Korea Aid as “a new model of development assistance that allows us to connect and communicate with Africa’s people through our hearts.” She also visited to observe the project’s first implementation on the ground in the three countries. The administration said it plans to have a test run once a month until the second half of 2017, when all vehicles are to be provided to the three countries.But civic groups attacked what they called as “embarrassing one-time event and a disgrace to South Korean aid that ignores the purpose of aid and international terms.” The project was also called a “step backward in the history of South Korea’s international development assistance.” The group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) demanded an “immediate end,” while ODA Watch called for the project’s “full-scale reconsideration.” Critics raised a number of questions about Korea Aid’s components, including how providing meals once a month could lower death rates, what use a single ambulance is likely to be, and why development assistance money rather than the government’s promotional budget is being used to promote the Pyeongchang Olympics and K-Pop.Two particular problems were singled out. First is the clear step backward from South Korea’s previous efforts to set up an organized development assistance system following international norms on aid since its 2010 joining of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) marked its transformation from aid recipient to aid donor. The OECD’s basic principles on international development assistance are laid out in its 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which states that mutual accountability and transparency between aid donors and recipients are necessary for the success of cooperation. According to the declaration, aid should be based on the recipient country’s development strategy and be designed to promote its policy initiative and ownership, with transparency a necessary element to ensure and strengthen public support.On that basis, South Korea and other countries and groups involved in aid have strived to improve the principles behind their activities to go beyond “events” and hardware-centered efforts such as building construction and item donations to focus on bolstering “software” within the recipient country’s systems and personnel capabilities.A second criticism is that the Korea Aid “event” was slapped together without undergoing systematic examination. During a confirmation of the 2017 implementation plan for international development assistance at the 26th meeting of the International Development Assistance Committee on May 30, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said plans had been established to “effectively bolster Korea Aid and other major projects.”But Korea Aid was not included on an agenda circulated to the committee’s non-government members in early May.

Survey shows Sewol survivors and victims’ families still suffering

Survey shows Sewol survivors and victims’ families still suffering


#Sewol_tregidy #PTSD #still_suffering

Kwon Mi-hwa, mother of Oh Young-seok, a Danwon High School student who died in the Sewol ferry sinking, wipes away a tear during a press conference in front of Cheongwoon Hyojadong Community Service Center near the Blue House, calling for the Sewol Special Investigative Commission to be strengthened, and condemning the Park Geun-hye government, June 27. The sign she’s holding reads, “No more deaths”. (by Kim Seong-gwang, staff photographer)

Many affected by physical and psychological symptoms related to trauma of sinking incomplete investigation

“Most of all, the family members . . . uh . . . all the parents want to let the children go. Huh. (sighs) I think it’s only after we know why the accident happened . . after when we’ve punished the people responsible . . . and prevented this kind of thing from happening again that the family members . . . uh . . . will let go of our children . . . as free souls.”(Excerpt from an interview with the father of a Danwon High School student who died in the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking) Over two years have passed since the Sewol ferry tragedy, yet a survey shows the survivors and family members of the victims are still suffering from psychological and physical problems in its wake.According to a draft report acquired of a survey by the special Sewol Investigative Commission on support for victims in the tragedy, the post-traumatic stress incidence rate for family members of Danwon High School students who lost their lives was 56%. The rate was much more severe than the 0.6% annual rate reported for the South Korean public as a whole.Family members were also found to be suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders (75.4%) and physical stress-related symptoms such as headaches (72.7%).For the survey, in-depth interviews were conducted between January and June for groups among a total of 211 victims of the tragedy, including 145 family members of Danwon students who died in the sinking, 39 surviving students and their family members, and 27 non-student survivors and victim family members. The commission’s survey was the first conducted by a state organization for victims of a major disaster.“The aim was to assess and analyze problem areas and inadequacies in the victim support process in order to develop alternatives,” explained a commission source. The commission released the findings from the survey on July 20 at the Kim Koo Museum and Library in Seoul.The findings show sudden changes to the lives of family members of Danwon high school student victims as a result of the tragedy, including abandonment of jobs and changes in values. While 116 of those surveyed (81.3%) were working before the tragedy, 75 of them (64.6%) reported quitting work after the sinking. 42.6% reported contemplating suicide as a result of grief and subsequent trauma from losing children or siblings, while 4.3% reported actually making an attempt.“Early on after the tragedy, family members held on through will and determination, but as the investigation went on without any clear signs of process, their health has worsened as a result of the feeling of helplessness and doubt,” explained the research team of professor Cho Seon-mi from the Ajou University Industry-Academic Cooperation Foundation, which examined family members of Danwon student victims.“To heal from trauma, you need to go through stages of recovering stability through trust and restoring social relationships,” the team said. “Learning the truth about the Sewol is inevitably going to be a very important variable.”Survivors also showed difficulty overcoming the shock of the tragedy. Students from Danwon High School showed a particularly strong aversion to use of the term “rescue” during the interview process. In their perception, their survival was the result of an escape rather than a rescue.Surviving students also expressed anger over the Coast Guard’s rescue efforts.“If they’d gotten out the kids who were locked in their rooms, we would have all escaped,” said one.“There were still a lot of kids after me,” said another.“They didn’t go into the boat,” a third said.The research team of Korea University professor Kim Seung-seop, which examined surviving Danwon students and their family members, explained that they “have yet to overcome the shock of the tragedy because of survivors’ guilt.”“A lot of them were also hurt by sensationalist media reports about ‘preferential treatment’ in university admission,” the team said.With Danwon students accounting for the majority of victims, the results also showed that non-student survivors and victim family members felt hurt over the “insincere” attitude from government institutions and a sense of alienation owing to regional differences in support distribution.“We need a central government support system in place so that there aren’t regional differences in support to victims,” said Ewha Womans University professor Yang Ok-kyung, who looked into the question of how to support victims’ families and survivors.By Kim Mi-young, staff reporter