[Writer's Choice] Korean victims of Atomic Bombing still suffering from its effect!

Yumi Kim , July 25, 2019, 4:33 p.m.

More than 2,200 Korean victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan are still alive today and many of them ― and their children ― have suffered from health issues and discrimination, according to a government report.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare revealed the information on April 25 after completing its first nationwide survey of victims, more than seven decades after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The bombings and radiation afterward killed 40,000 out of the 70,000 Koreans who suffered from the attacks, the report says. About 23,000 survivors returned to their homeland and 2,283 are still alive, most of whom (roughly 70 percent) live in the Gyeongsang provinces.

Based on National Health Insurance Service data, the ministry said the victims who were exposed to radiation show a much higher rate of cancer and rare diseases. For example, the number of prostate, gastric and colorectal cancer patients per 100,000 male bomb victims between 2013 and 2017 were 9,833, 4,621 and 4,327, respectively, in comparison with 1,465, 1,435 and 1,270 per 100,000 other men in the same age groups.

However, given that various factors, such as income levels and occupations, can affect health conditions, the ministry said it needed further research to prove the link between the diseases and the bombings.

The survivors' children said they have also suffered from physical and mental problems. In a survey, 8.6 percent said they had physical disabilities and 9.5 percent said they had experienced some form of discrimination.

"The ministry will conduct additional research this year to estimate the health conditions of the survivors' children and come up with plans to help them," an official said.

The survivors were unable to receive government benefits until the 1990s, when the Japanese government offered to set up a humanitarian fund, which was used to build a nursing facility in Hapcheon, South Gyeongsang Province. In 2017, a museum dedicated to the survivors was opened next to the facility after the Korean government agreed to cover the costs.


comments powered by Disqus