By Bae Ji-sook
Korean survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have had old fears of nuclear disaster dredged up by the explosions at a Japanese nuclear power plant.
But they stood up and paid their condolences to the victims of the worst disaster to hit Japan since World War II, starting fund-raising campaigns as another nuclear disaster looms.
The Korea Atomic Bomb Victim Association has donated 1 million won to the National Red Cross to help the victims of the disaster. The association has also sent a letter of consolation to the Japanese government and some civic groups. The headquarters sent a letter asking for donations to 2,600 of its members.
Kim Yong-gil, head of the group, admitted that the group is officially at odds with the Japanese government over the acknowledgement and compensation of the Korean victims.
“But this is time to halt the dispute. We were all astonished by the disaster. This is not a matter of country, territory or nationality. We all hope they will overcome the hardship,” Kim told The Korea Herald.
He said the victims of the atomic bombs are always ill, and susceptible to numerous kinds of disease.
According to numerous reports, 200,000 people had died by 1950 due to cancer and other aftereffects of the atomic bombings. It has been estimated that from 1950 to 1990, roughly 9 percent of the cancer and leukemia deaths among bomb survivors were due to radiation from the bombs.
“The amount of suffering and agony the victims and their families had to take is immense. We do not want anyone in the world to undergo the painful process again,” Kim said.
Kim Bong-dae, 74, had mixed feelings watching the TV news of the explosion and the leak of radioactivity.
His wife, who died at age 35, was a post-attack casualty and suffered from skin cancer. His son, a second generation victim, also died at age 35 due to disorders of the immune system.
“It made me think of my son who had spent his whole life fighting pain. The damage of the atomic bomb haunted many Koreans and sometimes I cannot help being furious against the Japanese government. But in this case, who’s to blame? Why do ordinary people have to be traumatized?” he was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
“I hope things will go well in the end,” he added.