S Koreans sympathize with earthquake-hit Japan

16:37, March 14, 2011      

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South Koreans expressed their sympathy and condolences to the Japanese people and set aside bitterness toward its close but distant neighbor in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami.

South Korea regards Japan as a country that is geographically close but ideologically different, largely due to anti-Japanese sentiment that has lingered since Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula more than six decades ago.

However, horrific scenes of destruction and death in the aftermath of the earthquake that have been splashed across the television and newspapers in South Korea have caused outpourings of support and sympathy from ordinary South Koreans.

"I used to dislike Japan but tears came to my eyes after I watched the scenes of the aftermath. I was saddened because I felt as if it happened to me and my country. Restoration must be made quickly, and it's too bad that there's nothing I can do to help," said Jang Da-som, a 23-year-old student in Seoul.

"Japan is geographically very close to us, and I can feel the Japanese people's pain. I hope that our country, given its proximity to Japan, provides great help to Japan. I'm really sorry for them," said Lee Chul-sang, a 56-year-old from Busan.

While most South Koreans are aghast at the news of the severe damages caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan, the South Korean government was quick to offer aid to Japan. On Saturday, the country was the first in the world to send a special team of five rescue workers and two search dogs to Japan.

"I think the government has done a good job. Since South Korea is Japan's neighbor, I think we need to offer lots of help as quickly as possible," said Park Jae-hyun, a 22-year-old student in Seoul.

South Korea dispatched an additional team of 102 rescue workers on early Monday morning.

"Our rescue team will carry out a rescue, search and safety evaluation mission in northeaster Japan, which was hit hardest by the earthquake and tsunami. We are currently discussing with Japan about locations," said vice foreign minister Min Dong-Seok.

In other moves to help Japan, local humanitarian organizations, religious groups and private companies are also joining hands to do whatever they can to contribute to relief efforts.

The Humanitarian Movement Committee and the Korean Association of Volunteers said they are preparing to send a team of experts.

The Korean Red Cross and other humanitarian groups are collecting financial donations and emergency aid supplies to meet the needs of earthquake and tsunami survivors.

Source: Xinhua

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