The Korean peninsula has been long regarded to be safe from earthquakes due to its geographic location. As being on the center of the Eurasian plate, Korea is considered to be naturally immune to earthquakes and possess low possibilities of massive earthquakes. However, the recent one in Gyeongju proved that South Korea is no longer in the “safe zone” from such disasters.
On September 12 20:32 pm, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 broke out in Gyeongju and several aftershocks were followed. According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, this is known as the biggest one since 1978. Subways temporarily stopped operation, KTX trades travelling quake-hit area reduced speed, and some regions had communication disruptions.
Now, let’s see what kinds of safety measures were taken by the government during this absolute chaos.
It is not an exaggeration at all to say that almost no efficient measure was taken to deal with the situation. A website providing with safety guidelines and information on the temblor went down for about three hours. The site crashed once again for several hours on September 19 when another magnitude 4.5 quake occurred.
Further, the citizens were enraged by the flawed alarming systems. The Ministry of Public Safety and Security (MPSS) sent text alerts notifying the earthquake after 9 minutes it occurred. Although the Meteorological Administration issued a warning after 20 seconds of the occurrence, the notification was delayed because of MPSS’ complicated procedures. Shockingly, only the areas near Gyeongju was notified and the MPSS didn’t even make attempts to notify other areas such as the capital area, Seoul. Despite the fact that early warning systems are the key to minimizing casualties and property damages, the MPSS inactively playing its role once again posed the citizens in great danger.
Unlike how Korea was helplessly being defeated by the forces of the massive earthquake, Japan, as a country that experienced numerous earthquakes, has an efficient and effective system developed to stay well prepared, and take brisk actions in times of crisis. Immediately after an earthquake strikes in Japan, all television and radio stations switch to official earthquake coverage, which informs the people of the situation and possible outcomes. For instance, warnings of tsunamis enables people to retreat to higher ground or purpose-built tsunami defence bunkers on the coast. They also provide systems that inform people through text messages about the scale, location, and damages caused by the earthquake.
Moreover, Japan keeps safety equipments in place. All offices and many private houses in Japan have an earthquake emergency kits, including dry rations, drinking water, basic medical supplies, in case someone gets trapped. Offices and schools also keep hard-hats and gloves for use in the event of a quake.
Their concern for safety issues can also be seen from their education. Earthquake drills are held every month at schools, which makes the children extremely familiar to it from a young age. The local fire departments also take groups of children into earthquake simulation machines to familiarize them with the sensation of being in an earthquake.
Preparations for potential earthquakes has emerged as an urgent task in South Korea as the recent temblor revealed Korea’s vulnerability to earthquakes. The Korean government must take a step forward to ensuring the peoples’ safety. Proper education should take place to inform people on how to respond to earthquakes and raise awareness. Alarming systems should be modified in order to make effective use during emergencies. Korea is no longer safe from breakouts of earthquakes, it is time for changes to be made.
Image source: https://www.dramafever.com/news/biggest-earthquake-in-countrys-history-shakes-south-korea/