Updated August. 29, 2014 03:17
President Park Geun-hye on Thursday visited Busan area that was hit by flash floods following heavy rain on Monday. Visiting sites at the village of Jwacheon in Busans Gijang County, the president consoled villagers and encouraged soldiers on disaster recovery mission. Gijang County had up to 160 mm of rain per hour on Monday, and Naedeok Reservoir in the upstream Jwagwangcheon stream crossing Jwacheon Village collapsed, releasing instantly more than 440,000 tons of water and flooding more than 130 homes and stores there.
Touring the village, President Park instructed Security and Public Administration Minister Chung Jong-seop and other officials to prevent disasters, by saying, Goeyeon Reservoir collapsed in Yeongcheon, North Gyeongsang Province on Thursday last week, causing massive damage, and the government must inspect aged reservoirs nationwide en masse, repair and reinforce them, and thereby devise fundamental measures to ensure that similar damage will not occur again. Naedeok Reservoir was completed in 1945.
Park said, Once damage assessment is completed, the government will consider declaring the area a special disaster zone, adding, Take the necessary steps to provide as soon as possible disaster relief subsidies, emergency supplies for living, and assistance for cleaning and wallpapering of homes to expedite the stabilization of their living. She went on to say, The Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving holiday) is drawing near, and I hope assistance is provided promptly to ensure that (all flood victims) can spend the holiday at their homes if at all possible.
Parks visit to flood-hit areas was reportedly arranged late Wednesday evening. Originally, the president was scheduled to hold summit talks with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, who was to visit Korea. However, as Cartes visit was postponed due to internal situation in Paraguay, Park came to have free time on the day. The presidential official hurriedly sought to set up a visit to flood-affected regions. The move was aimed at increasing the presidents activities to help improve peoples livelihoods ahead of the Chuseok holiday.
To some extent, the presidents visit was also made in consideration of the opposition camps criticism about her watching of a performance on the occasion of Cultural Day on Wednesday. Opposition parties said, "Watching a cultural performance is a secondary wound inflicted to the bereaved families of victims in the Sewol tragedy. She attended the cultural event as part of her administrations efforts to promote the development and prosperity of culture, one of her administrations state agendas. However, the presidential office reportedly organized her tour to disaster-stricken areas to help improve public sentiment that went somewhat negative among ordinary people.