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작성자 편집국 작성일20-08-03 13:23 댓글0건

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Tumultuous peninsula, pandemic globe

=North\and South must partner to stop the coronavirus in Korea=

 

 

 

For Korean Americans, 2020 began with a near-apocalyptic event. There are the dangers of Korea’s instability, The U.S. economic downturn, the challenges of being Korean in a racist society,\and the anti-Asian sentiment associated with the pandemic. But these pale compared to the direct danger to all humanity rom the coronavirus, a that danger that persists.   Public health\and infectious disease experts estimate that the total number of infected people will top four million in U.S.,\and that the death rate will continue to be about four percent of the total infected,\or 160,000.

 

A positive test for this virus means the virus is present in the individual, but only about 25 percent of positive individuals exhibit symptoms, some even requiring hospitalization\and intubated respiratory support.  The rest are near-asymptomatic\and infectious, which means there is a large population unknowingly spreading the virus.

 

The most unusual characteristic of the coronavirus is its high infectivity. The infection is spread via air\droplets\and the viability of the virus is\limited by the distance of about six feet of distance in the air.

 

Epidemiologists have established that the\original source of his particular virus was the a certain type of bat rom near Wuhan, China. Initially there was some speculation on an ethnic cause of the disease but that idea was rapidly\and scientifically discredited.

 

It is critically important now to stop the spread, eliminate the virus\and treat the affected people effectively.  At the moment, the tools for doing this are\limited to physical isolation\and effective hygiene including masks\and handwashing;\and utilization of effective anti-viral agents such as Remdesivir.   Eventually, a vaccine will be added to this\limited set of tools.

 

Aside rom this apocalyptic health disaster, the Korean peninsula became engulfed in a series of political,\and potentially military disasters.  As in the past, these are caused by the fundamental problem of the country’s division into north\and south for 70 years. Before that, Korea had a 5,000-year history of being one country\and one people.

 

However, this long history of the land of Korea\and people of Korea on it, has been punctuated by many tumultuous changes due to its being surrounded by multiple powerful nations; China, Mongolia, Siberian Russia, Japan,\and more recently, the U.S

 

Throw in persistent attacks by foreign pirates\and that adds up to a lot of invasions.  There is one estimate claiming that Korea has been invaded, on average, once every other year for 5,000 years.  Interestingly, Korea has never once invaded any of its neighbors.

.

The last foreign invasion of the country was also by one of its neighbors. The Japanese empire, which opened its doors to the western civilization ahead of Korea, colonized\and occupied the peninsula starting in 1910.  Under Japanese control, Korea was forcibly westernized.  In 1945, at the end of the World War II, the Japanese occupation ended,\and the peninsula was liberated briefly but occupied again by the Soviets in the North\and by the U.S. Now, 70 years later, we are still in this strange status quo.

 

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Korean peninsula must be handled with clear understanding of the politico-economic peculiarities of the peninsula,\and the fact that a health crisis affects the entire peninsula.  The two Koreas would be wise to develop a joint strategy to handle the public health imperatives, such as:  a stay safe-stay home\order\and other public health measures,\and distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE); virus\and antibody testing\and contact tracing;  medical treatment of symptoms with remdesivir\and hydroxychloroquine;\and finally joint production\and distribution of a vaccine.   

 

As a member of the Korean American\organization Korean American National Coordinating Council (KANCC) I recommend the two Koreas take immediate action to initiate joint meetings to discuss how to share resources to stop the pandemic. Given the urgency of the matter, South Korea should initiate a people-to-people humanitarian effort to distribute critically important medical supplies\and PPE to North Korea.

 

Lastly\and importantly, one has to remember that the most severe barrier between the North Korea\and U.S. is the condition of sanctions imposed on the country by the U.S., directly\and also via the United Nations. Because the sanctions cover broad classes of products, they prohibit the import of certain drugs\and medical supplies, halting the treatment of chronically-ill patients\and hindering the operation of many international aid\organizations.  Advocates hoped for partial relief rom the sanctions at the Singapore Summit meeting between President Donald Trump\and Chairman Jong-un Kim, but no relief rom sanctions materialized.

 

In nearly all Korean peninsula issues, the most significant role-player is South Korea.  

It has twice the population of the North, 30 times the wealth, as measured in gross domestic product,\and most importantly, a very direct, close\and a unique relationship with the U.S.

 

In commenting on the relationship of South Korea\and the U.S., it is critical to understand that it is not a partnership of equals, for a variety of historical reasons,\and in real terms, for example, because South Korea’s war-time operational control\and its transcontinental missile control is in the hands of a U.S. commander. This U.S. control of South Korea’s weapons systems is of utmost importance.  However, in dealing with the pandemic on the entire peninsula, the South must maintain its independence,\and negotiate for the importation of critical medical aid that could stop the virus in both Koreas.

 

Joint action to stop the pandemic could be an important initiative to restore health to Koreans\and to get the two Koreas together on other important goals.  On many key issues, Koreans rom North\and South must work together\and lead together, towards the ultimate cooperation, the unification of the Korean peninsula.

=The End=

 

August, 2020 

 

by Moon J. Pak

 

 

 

(Korean Quarterly, SPRING 2020, VOL 23:NUM 04)

 

 

 

Moon J. Pak, M.D., Ph.D.

Oakwood Medical Center

811 Oakwood Dr. #201

Rochester, MI 48307

mjpak1000@yahoo.com

(248) 894-3064

 

 

Moon J. Pak, M.D., Ph.D.is an internal medicine specialist in private practice in the Detroit area.  He is the senior vice-president of the KANCC (Korean American National Coordinating Council), which facilitates professional\and cultural exchanges between Korean Americans\and North Koreans

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