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[Ferry Disaster] Korea drags feet in forming response team

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Published : 2014-04-21 21:43
Updated : 2014-04-21 22:15

The South Korean government’s unfulfilled promise to hire more emergency and disaster experts over the last two years is drawing criticism from the public.

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration said in November 2012 that it would revise the Decree on the Appointment of Public Officials to create a state unit in charge of preventing disasters, the ministry said Monday.

Under the revised law, the government pledged to hire experts with university degrees in relevant fields and recruit those with disaster management expertise from other government departments.

The revision was made in February of last year, but no disaster specialists have been hired so far.

“The government has not recruited (such experts) as there are no related departments established at local schools,” a ministry official told media.

But several local universities already have related undergraduate studies and graduate programs, with the latter being offered at Yonsei University and Sungkyunkwan University.

Currently, about 2,400 government officials work in disaster-related fields, but they have not received any formal training in disaster prevention.

The families of the victims of the ferry accident have criticized the government for its lack of efficiency and experience in handling the disaster, which has so far left more than 60 dead and over 200 others missing.

By Suh Ye-seul (sys@heraldcorp.com)

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