Misemonji 미세먼지 and the collapse of governance
The time has come to wake up out of the reverie of people-powered democratic revolution driving a new progressive government and look with cold determination at the reality of governance of Korea today in a state of advanced decay. That process is not about Moon Jae-in, a likable character who happened to be the next in line for the position, but rather about the long-term dismantlement of government over the last decade, starting from the end of the Roh Moo-hyun administration and reaching a peak over the last three years.
Power demand in South Korea has increased by more some 2.5 per cent per year since 2006. Most Koreans are completely oblivious to the fact that the cost of electricity is subsidized in South Korea and that every time they use a smart phone, or turn on their computer, they are contributing to the pollution of the air, let alone to climate change (which most citizens have only the vaguest awareness of).
We do see an awareness of the health impact of fine particulate matter over the last year, with an increasing number of people employing nose masks or simply staying inside. Seoul has some of the worst air quality in the world these days and for all the complaining, little or nothing has been done to make automobiles electric (by either making petroleum-powered automobiles illegal or giving subsidies for electric automobiles), or to end coal-fired power plants for the country as a whole, or for specific factories.
Frequently, the state of the air is treated as if it was a matter about which nothing can be done, as if “misemonji” was a new form of whether, like snow or rain, about which we can do nothing other than wearing a mask, as one might use an umbrella on a rainy day. Many believe, based on rather misleading reports, that all the pollution comes from China. Many are unaware of just how many people die (are killed) by such pollution every year for the simple reason that the commercial media either does not report such facts, or hides it somewhere deep inside the newspaper, or news report. It is hard to know the exact numbers, but probably we are talking about 15,000-20,000 people a year. In fact, it would be easy to make charts showing the increase in mortality from various cancers and respiratory diseases over the last 10 years if anyone wanted to do so.
If that many people were ill,or dying from attacks by North Korea, you can imagine the problem would be splattered all over the internet. But to a conspicuous degree this matter is being ignored, and citizens are being misled.
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