President Moon Jae-in instructed officials to cooperate with China to grapple with the fine dust pollution that has blanketed the country throughout the past week.
The presidential office said on March 6 that Moon gave the order at a time when the country is suffering from the worst ultra-fine particulate pollution since data began to be recorded.
President Moon has come under fire because he blasted the previous administration for its failure to properly deal with fine dust pollution in early 2017 when he was a presidential candidate.
Back then he said, “I want to consume all the fine dust myself … The government’s incapability and complacency drive people crazy. What they do is to just message the level of fine dust.”
Moon comes under heavy criticism
Critics point out that Moon’s administration is also just messaging the people about the level of fine dust without coming up with appropriate measures to combat the pollution, which is choking the country.
Debate continues over the cause of the dust with many Koreans believing that a big portion comes from China. But Seoul has refrained from blaming Beijing for fear of creating a possible diplomatic dispute.
As the Moon administration seemed to have remained reluctant to point the finger at Beijing, some even claimed that Korean fine dust was being blown to China to “plague” Chinese people.
President Moon appears to have lost his patience in the face of the mounting criticism over the deteriorating fine dust conditions this month, and he finally referenced China.
Moon told his government to talk with China about measures that could effectively cut down the fine dust pollution.
“China argues that our dust flies into China’s Shanghai region. Hence, making artificial rain over the Yellow Sea would help China as well,” Moon was quoted as saying by his spokesman.
In addition, Moon asked his officials to check on whether a supplementary budget was needed for steps to reduce the fine dust.