News / Asia

Schools Close in South Korea Amid Fears of Radioactive Rain

A South Korean student holding an umbrella talks on his mobile phone as he goes to his home amid fears that the rain may contain radioactive materials from the crippled nuclear reactors in Japan at Midong elementary school in Seoul, April 7, 2011
A South Korean student holding an umbrella talks on his mobile phone as he goes to his home amid fears that the rain may contain radioactive materials from the crippled nuclear reactors in Japan at Midong elementary school in Seoul, April 7, 2011

Showers on the Korean peninsula prompted some schools to close Thursday. Many parents were worried about exposing children to "radioactive rain."  They were not reassured by South Korean authorities, who said there is no risk to children, even if some radioactive particles might be detected in rain water.

Fears about radiation in rain prompted classes to be canceled at some schools in South Korea.

In Gyeonggi province, 125 kindergartens and elementary schools gave students the day off.

A spokesman for the provincial education office, Cho Byung-lae, says all institutions there were asked to curtail outdoor activities, but it was left up to school principals to decide whether to cancel instruction.

Cho says they did not decide to close schools because of radiation, calling that a rather remote risk. But, he explains because there was such strong concern expressed by many parents, school authorities decided to relieve their anxiety.

In Seoul, educators refused to cancel classes and appealed for calm. However, some parents in the capital say they did not send their children to school because of the risk of radiation in the rain.

Other schools in the country dismissed class early or halted outdoor activities, including sporting events.

The South Korean prime minister’s office and other government agencies said, even if the rainfall has traces of radiation, the amount would be too small to raise any health concerns.

Worry grew after South Korea’s Institute of Nuclear Safety reported a small level of radioactive iodine and cesium was detected in rain off Jeju Cheju island, in the southern part of the country.

President Lee Myung-bak asked meanwhile for increased screening of imported food to check radiation levels. During a visit to the country’s Food and Drug Administration, he said people here are bound to be worried because South Korea is so close to Japan.  The crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is 1,000 kilometers east of the Korean peninsula.

South Korea, along with China, has expressed frustration that Japan did not give neighboring countries timely information before its release of radioactive water from the stricken nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Japan's top government spokesman has apologized for the failure.

The plant, on Japan’s northeastern coast, was hit by the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. The nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, Thursday began pumping nitrogen into one of the most severely damaged reactors, hoping to prevent another explosion of hydrogen gas.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs