The air was filled with sirens today as schools ran earthquake-preparedness drills. The pictures here I stole off Naver, and you can't tell me this next one wasn't staged.
Of course my school had the drill, too, and I was told they originally had planned to lead the students outside, but because there wasn't enough time they just hid under their desks. I have to question the wisdom of that, but I suppose in a real earthquake there isn't much time to do much else besides hide and hope. Thinking back to how my school does fire drills, and how long it takes students to get outside, trying to herd them into the playground for an earthquake drill probably wouldn't have been much more successful. [Edit: Now that I look at other pictures, seems that pretty much everybody just hid under their desks rather than go outside.] Some 8.2 million people nationwide participated in the tests. That number does not include me and my colleagues, who stayed in the teachers' office because we're tough.
Googling around for information about the earthquake in China, I found one case of 900 middle school students buried in the rubble of their school, plus other stories I don't have the stomach for right now. The drills today were in response to worries about what would happen should a similar event happen in Korea. The Korea.net article I linked above says:
The [Chinese] students died while attending classes in poorly constructed buildings that were easily demolished. Some analysts, however, also attribute the deaths to poor disaster preparedness training for students.
Sorry to sound crass, but I don't know if today's exercise, which focused on crouching down under desks, is the best way to avoid being crushed by a school. Just seems very reactionary, and not a fully-formed plan. *cough* While I have no idea how likely a huge earthquake is in Korea, there's no question that we should be worried about poorly constructed buildings as well. My Thursday-Friday school is two years old, yet each classroom has cracks running down the walls, and the floors are uneven. Since folks weren't worried about earthquakes until two weeks ago, and since most buildings weren't built . . . two weeks ago, it stands to reason that more mind should be paid to the issue in the future.
From the Chosun Ilbo.
I'd still like them to spend some time teaching traffic safety, as my heart races each day when I watch people of all ages just walk out into the street. This is, after all, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for pedestrians. I'm not sure I can name it the most dangerous, because I'm sure conditions in non-OECD countries are worse, but that so many pedestrians are dying ought to be a cause for concern. Sorry to keep flogging my new hobby horse---not a euphamism, and doesn't conjure pleasant images even if it were---but I just don't understand why traffic safety isn't a bigger issue, rather than hypothetical threats like earthquakes and cows.