#Hot Issues of the Week l 2019-03-10
Air pollution was at record high levels in several regions across South Korea last week, even surpassing levels observed in many parts of China.
Fine dust blanketed South Korea for nearly a week, invoking emergency measures from the government to reduce dust levels in major cities and provinces for seven consecutive days. This was the longest sustained period such measures were imposed for in the nation’s history.
President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday stressed the need to devise emergency measures to minimize the impact of fine dust coming from China.
On the same day, Presidential Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a statement that the president ordered related government agencies to discuss with China ways to jointly and simultaneously implement emergency measures on reducing fine dust particles in the atmosphere when levels are high.
In particular, Moon instructed the agencies to seek ways to create artificial rain with China and to jointly set up a fine dust forecast system.
Moon urged the agencies to focus all efforts on slashing fine dust levels, and encouraged them to draw up a supplementary budget for funding such efforts if deemed necessary.
In the National Assembly, rival parties agreed to pass legislation next week aimed at bolstering state efforts to combat fine dust.
The floor leaders of the ruling Democratic Party, the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and minor opposition Bareunmirae Party met on Wednesday and agreed to prioritize the passage of bills related to fine dust, including legislation that would classify it as a national emergency.