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A warning from an earthquake in Taean

Posted April. 02, 2014 01:31,   


Shigeru Ban, the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, dreams of architecture that helps society. This is why the Japanese architect builds light and strong buildings with recycled paper. As paper is cheap and easy to get, it is particularly useful in areas that are struck by natural disasters. His paper buildings including schools and cathedrals can be found in regions that were hit by an earthquake such as Kobe in Japan, Sichuan in China, and Christchurch in New Zealand.

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and political dissident, was in the center of attention in last year’s Venice Biennale. His work – a pile of 150 tons of steel rebar – made impressed many visitors. It was not just a pile of steel rebar. It was collected from the school building that collapsed in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. It was to comfort thousands of souls who lost their lives due to poor construction.

Korea used to be shocked at earthquakes in its neighboring countries, but this time it was surprised at a magnitude-5.1 earthquake that struck Taean, South Chungcheong Province, at 4:48 a.m. Tuesday. This was the third strongest one since 1978 when Korea started to keep track of earthquakes on the Korean Peninsula. As the latest earthquake occurred far out at sea, it did not have a large impact but people in the Seoul metropolitan area including Seoul and Incheon felt the vibration from windows and beds. On Twitter, some people shared their experience, such as “I thought a war broke out and jumped out of the house in pajama.” People were concerned about a big earthquake like the one in Japan.

The earthquake in Taean should be taken as a warning sign that Korea is no longer safe from earthquakes and should take earthquake-proof measures. Last year alone, Korea had 93 times of earthquakes with a magnitude of 2 or higher, three times more than the average number of earthquakes between the start of observation and 2012. Human beings left their footprint on the moon and sent an explorer to the Mars, but they are dwarfed by natural disasters. Now is the time to stay alert, develop an accurate earthquake forecast system, and make a thorough preparation for a possible earthquake.

Editorial Writer Koh Mi-seok (mskoh119@donga.com)