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  • First Day of School on August 12th.
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The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

Voices clash over radiation controversy

Fukushima discharge crisis faces politicization in Korea
Supporters of different political parties debate over the Korean government’s reaction to the Fukushima Discharge crisis. (Sunny Oh)

Disclaimer: This article contains the political opinions of the writer and does not represent the views of the Flyover.

In the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake (2011), the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant exploded and decimated the once peaceful city. The explosion, along with the natural disaster, annihilated Fukushima. The incident emitted long-lasting radioactive debris, which drove away the residents for the next decade. 

With time, the incident of 2011, like Chernobyl, slowly faded away from the public attention, until the Japanese government announced the release of its contaminated waters in 2023. In consideration of possible opposition, Japan addressed safety concerns prior to its initiation. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “The discharge of…[contaminated] water into the sea is consistent with relevant international safety standards and will have a negligible radiological impact on people and the environment.” 

However, considerable movements of criticism proved themselves inevitable. The Chinese government proposed a complete ban on Japanese seafood imports. Infuriated Chinese citizens made overseas phone calls to Japan, asking, “Why did you release the water?” I believe that such hostile actions expand a diplomatic issue into an illogical public conflict and exacerbate ethnicism

In contrast to China, the Korean government showed mild reactions. In a ministerial conference, the Office of Government Policy Coordination announced, “We have judged that there have been no technical or scientific issues with the Fukushima discharge. However, we neither support nor agree with it.” 

The liberal Democratic Party of Korea (더불어민주당) expressed disapproval of this conclusion. They hosted an international conference and described the discharge as “a violation of the London Conference (an international treaty signed in 1972 over marine pollution caused by waste dumping).” The conservative party accused this as an ‘action of political suicide.’ 

I believe that the stance of both parties reflect a short-sighted politicization. Throughout their armchair theories (claims made without actual investigation) Korean governors showed more care over their popularity than the gravity of the issue. The debate deteriorated into radical recriminations between conservative and liberal parties, which clearly does not benefit naive citizens. 

Politicians who portray themselves as considerate leaders in public media never appear in support of the voiceless. Meanwhile, public fear of contaminated waters grew, and fishery communities of multiple Korean traditional markets showed concerns. A market owner in Busan said, “[Due to Fukushima] We barely sell a tenth [of the amount we used to sell]. We cannot stand this condition.” 

While Korean politicians debated at their desks, Kishida took action. In order to minimize civilian damage, the prime minister visited multiple fishery markets that sold seafood from Fukushima, listened to the locals’ opinions on the situation, and even ate the food to emphasize its safety. Additionally, he combatted backlash with initiatives such as the government-led fishery support programs. “We will give our best effort to stop the economic embargo based on unscientific measures,” he said. 

Governments must focus on the protection of their citizens as first priority. Japan instantly moved for its people’s aid. On the other hand, I see that Korean politicians took the Fukushima discharge as an opportunity to chew the opposite party out. In the future, I hope that our own politicians, upon facing a national crisis, rather watch out for its people’s security.

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About the Contributors
Jerome Kwon
Jerome Kwon, Writer
Jerome Kwon makes a comeback to the Jets Flyover staff after a one-year hiatus. With his heart on his sleeve, Jerome desires to write inspiring, thought-provoking, and critical articles for the students of DIS. Jerome greatly admires Mr. Lipsky and hopes to learn from him. He has a profound interest in the current geopolitical issues that affect the globe, especially Korea. He aims to become a riveting columnist and provide the latest investigative journalism for the people.
Leanne Yoon
Leanne Yoon, Managing Editor
Leanne Yoon, dubbed as “Lenny” by her close friends, rises into her sophomore year bursting with ambition. As a leader of clubs such as Menstruation Station, SOAR, Debate Club and String Orchestra, Leanne often ponders on what else she could bring to her fellow Jets. In her leisure time, she vibes to music and immerses herself in all things K-culture. This year, Leanne hopes to bring the Flyover to the next level as the co-managing editor of the publication. 

Jessica Woo
Jessica Woo, Managing Editor
A eleven year veteran at DIS, Jessica Woo returns to the Flyover staff in her junior year. As an engaged student who loves to read and write, Jessica helps other students improve and always attempts to step up as a writer herself. Founder of the Jets Broadcasting Service, she communicates and delivers informative messages to the DIS community. As much as she adores writing, Jessica deems herself a baseball-holic and attempts to watch every game if possible. 

Sunny Oh
Sunny Oh, Photographer / Designer
Sunny starts a new chapter of her life as a photographer and designer on the Jets Flyover staff. Even though she could not take journalism class as a sophomore, she volunteered to take photos during her free time, many of the shots making it into the yearbook. Sunny loves music, dance, art, and sports, especially volleyball. She brings her passion for aesthetics to the Flyover, aspiring to bring the yearbook to the next level.

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    Ryn Seoryn KwonSep 14, 2023 at 7:33 pm

    I think this is a really big controversy in Korea. I agree with all the writers. I enjoyed the article. Thank you so much for this creative article