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It's the air, stupid!

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By Park Moo-jong

Mexico City, home to 20 million people, is notorious for air pollution. In a somewhat exaggerated expression, even birds would drop dead from the sky. In 1992, the city earned the dishonor of topping the list of the world's most polluted cities.

In 1990, I visited the capital city of the Central American country for a news coverage with a kind of worry about the air pollution there. I was advised to walk slowly and bring an oxygen can with me always, even at the hotel bed, because of the lack of oxygen there.

I've heard the city still ranks in the top 10 in terms of pollution, even if its air quality has improved a little thanks to the city's aggressive legislation and heightened awareness of a problem that "kills an estimated 7 million people worldwide every year" according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Nearly 30 years later, I am experiencing a similar situation here in Seoul, the capital of the Republic of Korea.

Like all Korean people, I have suffered from the worst-ever choking air pollution this week in Seoul, which, I learned belatedly, places 12th regarding fine dust pollution among cities in 224 countries.

The ultrafine dust attack is a national disaster enveloping the whole country, with the Moon Jae-in government and the local autonomous bodies remaining virtually helpless, taking only expedient measures ― warning alerts and........

© The Korea Times