Daniel Kim YISS 11th Grade
Summer vacation season in Korea is a busy time. We’re visited by endless stream of visitors from neighboring countries such as Japan and China. Korea has benefitted enormously from theses visitors economically. Unfortunately, tourists are not the only visitors from China during the summer seasons; the summer season also is also a time when yellow dust from China arrives in Korea. Chinese factories along with gobi dessert are seen as the culprits of these unwanted guests but are they really to be blamed for Korea’s smog?
Recently, scientists sponsored by NASA arrived in Korea and together with Korea’s National Institute of Environmental Research started a six week project to determine what causes the grey smog we often observe in Korea’s air. Flying around in a vintage DC8, they collect data of the whole peninsula. While they say it is too early to determine all the findings, they have said that they detected specific signature of factories in Ulsan, home of Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hyundai Motors. They have also found pollution originating from southeast where Korea’s huge steel plant, Posco is located. Along with these, Korea also has enormous amount of motor vehicles on streets. In April alone, 130,591 cars were registered in Korea according to Trading Economics. Along with cars, Korea also has many motorcycles, which is seen as another source of air pollution. Recently MBC reported motorcycle represents only 10% of all registered vehicles, however, they cause 25-35% of air pollution in Korea.
Korean government has said for many years that China is the cause of air pollution in Korea. However, scientists on board of the DC8 stated that fine dust particles are originating from within Korea. Speaking to CNN, one of the scientist Jack Dib said, “We think a lot of it is going to be mixture of pollution from the power plants and the cities with an awful lot of stuff coming from the forest, natural biogenics so we’re looking to see if that’s what’s really happening.”
We may not be able to determine definitively the origin of air pollution in Korea, but we do know that it’s having a detrimental effect on all of us. In a recent study by Yale University, South Korea ranked 173 out of 180 countries for air pollution. The Korean government must take drastic measures to improve Korea’s quality of air. Our lives depend on it.
<Daniel Kim YISS 11th Grade