Posted October. 24, 2017 08:03,
Updated October. 24, 2017 08:07
The Korean Peninsula was once a main habitat for tigers. Small but brave Korean tigers were large in numbers, as many as Manchurian tigers or Siberian tigers. Back in 1734, the 10th year of King Yeongjo’s reign of the Joseon Dynasty, 140 people died of tiger attack. When a person was eaten by a tiger, it was called “death as tiger’s meal.” As a tiger was killed in the city of Gyeongju in 1921, making the top predator in Korea officially extinct, a paradise has opened for water deer and wild boars, which were the main food source for the tigers. In recent years, it is not surprising to hear these animals show up in urban areas or cross the streets.
In Korea, water deer is the most prominent victim of road kills. From 2012 to 2016, 1,990 water deer were killed by road kills. Compared to 115 wild boars, the second most prominent victim, it is easy to see how fast water deer has grown in numbers. Water deer has tendencies to run into the head lights of cars at night, which might have caused more damages for them. Given high chances of car damage and secondary accident, road kills make drivers break out of cold sweat.
Even urban drivers fear for road kills because of “jaranis.” “Jarani” is a new term made by combining “jajeongeo (bicycle)” and “gorani (water deer),” since no one can predict when they will jump into the road. Especially the elders riding bicycles often suffer casualties by missing the traffic signals. Between January and July this year, 13 out of 17 deceased victims of car accidents involving bicycles in Seoul were aged 65 and above. “Borani,” a combination of “bohaengja (pedestrian)” and “gorani (water deer),” is another term that shows drivers’ complaints.
Germany and France have legal statements that traffic sign of “share” should be placed on roads used both by drivers and cyclists and at least 1.5 meter (4.9 feet) should be secured between cars and bicycles. Cyclists in these countries always use hand signals for left or right turns, while 5th graders take bicycle rider’s license test in Germany. German elementary students are required to obtain the license, because they must be accompanied by their parent or guardian when riding bicycles if they are unlicensed. As the number of bicycle accidents is on the rise in Korea, voices claiming for the obligation of bicycle rider’s license is also growing.