Monday, September 5, 2005

A friend in need

The disaster in the wake of Hurricane Katrina has humbled the United States and the world is responding with sympathy, much as they did after the 9/11 attacks. Even North Korea has expressed sympathy: the North Korean Red Cross said it hoped "the living of the inhabitants in the afflicted areas return to normal as early as possible." [Someone thought it would be funny to make up a mock story of a shipment of ecstasy and post it on OhMyNews.]

While many in the blogosphere have tried to paint South Korea as a U.S.-hating erstwhile ally of America, despite it being the U.S.'s second-largest "coalition partner" in Iraq (after the U.K.), the ROK government has
stepped up to the plate with a promise of $30 million in aid to the refugees of Katrina. Perhaps as significant, the government will dispatch fifty rescue workers to assist the evacuation of thousands of people in New Orleans and surrounding areas as part of a government task force led by Vice Foreign Minister Lee Taesik. The same task force will seek to assist ROK citizens in the affected area.

Fifty rescue workers, emergency relief supplies, loads of money, and the Vice FM, sent at a time when Korea itself may still get hit by
Super Typhoon Nabi. They even said they would consider a request for military assistance if Washington makes one.

I want to echo
Marmot's suggestion that people send an email to let the Korean government know that this message of support was heard loud and clear:

Anyway, if you are reading this, I encourage you to send a message of appreciation to the Korean embassy in the United States at, or, perhaps even better, to the Korean consulate-general in Houston (, which is handling the relief effort in the devastated areas.
I like that suggestion, and I have contacted the Korean Red Cross to see if there's a way to donate money directly from Korea.

Marmot added that "this is definitely one time that Korea’s support should not go unacknowledged." He is right that it should, but I don't know that it will. The NewsMax whackos on the right (who call this "the American tsunami") have been whining about
how little courtesy the United States has received [HT: nsp], and it would be unfair to lump South Korea with other countries that did little or nothing, as Bush once did with Seoul's Iraq War contribution.

Not that Korea should be doing this for any reason other than humanitarian. Nevertheless, I think it's also notable that Kuwait has decided to
donate $500 million in oil supplies and other aid. Kuwait and Korea (and perhaps impoverished Bosnia) stand out as a couple countries who owe their free existence in part to American blood.

As I suspected, however, there would be some in the blogosphere that just couldn't let this one go without taking a swipe at Korea.
Comment #2 of that post:
However I think “beyond generous” might be a bit too strong. Especially when you consider how much money the US pisses away in Korea each year. Itaewon landlords alone overcharge the US government at least 30mil annually.
The US government should accept the money and do it graciously. Give Korea a nice thank you from Bush and the appropriate level political ass kissing. Though don’t expect much media attention, 30mil is a drop in the bucket and a story for page 17.
What lovely sentiment. By dismissing this so easily, in a few days the Korea bashers can go back to calling South Korea an ally of China and Japan the loyal friend of the United States.

Japan that is donating $200,000 in aid*, the one with the #2 economy.

*I'm not saying this to bash Japan, which is about to bear the brunt of Super Tyhpoon Nabi and may itself need help from the U.S., Korea, and other neighbors; I'm only trying to illustrate that despite some differences with Washington over policy, Seoul does seem to have a sense of responsibility to its allies, regardless of what its detractors want to believe.

1 comment:

  1. when s.k politicans/ppl question or criticize u.s policies toward korea,it's a proof of s.k's fierce anti-Americanism yet when u.s think tanks/politicians/ppl belittle s.korea's policies or criticize them, it's not anti-koreanism but merely a friendly advice..


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