Following a devastating earthquake that struck central Turkey and northwest Syria, Koreans from all walks of the life on Tuesday expressed condolences to the victims and their families and showed their support for rescue missions in search of survivors.
Calling for international assistance to people who lost homes and families, Koreans said they would stand in solidarity with those in Turkey and Syria struggling to respond to the biggest quake in 84 years in the area.
“A disaster is not easy to cope with because nobody could’ve expected this. I hope that Turkey and Syria get through this well, especially in terms of how they manage the situation with those who have less since it’s always the socially underprivileged that are impacted the most,” said Gah Hee-sun, a 24-year-old university student.
Yang Nam-kyung, a university student in her senior year, said she stands in solidarity with the victims and those affected by the devastating earthquake.
“I said that I wanted to go hot air ballooning in Turkey when I was an exchange student in England last semester, but I can’t believe a country that offers experiences of such beautiful and peaceful scenery instantly collapsed, leaving so many dead,” she said.
Kim Sung-won, a 45-year-old office worker in Seoul, also offered his sympathy to the people who fell victim to the tragedy.
“Many young Koreans wouldn’t know, but many elderly South Koreans think of Turkey as a ‘brother country.’ I have never been to Turkey, but I’ve always felt some kind of bond with it. I hope that they recover soon,” Kim told The Korea Herald.
A South Korean local government jumped to send aid to Turkey and Syria. Gyeonggi Province Gov. Kim Dong-yeon said the office will provide as much support as possible, including for medical treatment, care and rescue.
“I express my deep condolences to the people of both countries who are in great shock and sadness. Gyeonggi Province will urgently deliver $1 million to Turkey through the Korean Red Cross,” Kim wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
Kim then emphasized the special relationship and history between the countries, saying, “Turkey calls the Republic of Korea ‘brother country.’ Yongin City has a monument to commemorate (Turkey's) participation in the (1950-53) Korean War, and Istanbul and Gyeonggi Province have continued friendly relations since 2012.”
"I hope the rescue and restoration will take place without a hitch, overcoming the earthquake as soon as possible," added Kim.
Celebrities and politicians also joined the wave of condolences.
Cha In-pyo, a South Korean actor who is also known for his charity work, took to social media to express his condolences to the victims of the earthquake. “Praying that God’s mercy saves those who are still in danger and consoles the souls of those who’ve been sacrificed,” the Instagram post read.
Sujan Shakya, a Nepalese TV personality based in Korea, also uploaded a photo and wrote, “We all pray for Turkey and Syria. Remembering those horrific nightmare moments during the mass earthquake in Nepal in 2015. Praying for no more casualties and aftershocks.”
A South Korean volleyball superstar Kim Yeon-koung, who played in the Turkish league for eight years, shared her condolences by sharing an Instagram post with a praying emoticon.
Korean aid organizations have also started fundraising.
The Korean branch of World Vision, one of the biggest NGOs globally, began fundraising through Naver’s charity page Happybean.
Korea Food for the Hungry International began fundraising with a target of 9.9 million won ($7,800) on Monday, and it took only a day to meet the goal. The Korean Red Cross also opened an account for donations starting Tuesday to support food and shelter for the earthquake victims.