When you ask a Korean why they are so proud of their country you will almost always be told, with great enthusiasm, that they are proud of their four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. If you are like most people I know you will stand there bewildered, wondering why they are so anxious to lecture you on something all consider a global occurrence. Most of the time when I encounter this spiel I sit back and smile knowing full well that there is no point in correcting the situation or even in clarifying.But lately I have come to realize that what they are preaching is not the truth. If you will let me clarify.
It is true, in Korea there are four seasons: Summer, Fall, Winter and Yellow Winds.
Yellow winds, also known as yellow dust, or yellow sands, are a phenomenon to this poor prairie girl. While I am used to dust kicking up from the surrounding fields I have never heard of pollution and sands traveling thousands of miles to settle on a poor unsuspecting peninsula. And this is exactly what is happening over here in my neck of the woods in Asia. Just to put it into perspective, "Shanghai on April 3, 2007 recorded an air quality index of 500, in the US, a 300 is considered 'Hazardous' and anything over 200 is 'Unhealthful'(Wikipedia)". Now I have been sick for just a little over a month. Sick enough that in Canada one would never dream of working, but here the doctors claim that there is nothing wrong with me and despite my best efforts to rest, eat well and exercise I persist in being sick. Tell me could it be the air?
Here is just one more anecdote to leave you thinking. In the morning when I walk to school I see men and women out leaving for work. However, before they get in their car they need to get their broom out of the back seat and wipe the windows of their car clear of all of the pollution and debris that floated out of the magical nighttime sky. Imagine if you will a world where "sulphur, (an acid rain component), soot, ash, carbon monoxide, and other toxic pollutants including heavy metals (such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, lead, zinc, copper) and other carcinogens, often accompany dust storms, as well as viruses, bacteria, fungi, pesticides, antibiotics, asbestos, herbicides, plastic ingredients, combustion products as well as hormone mimicking phthalates (Wikipedia)" float in through your bedroom window as you sleep at night and poison your children as they play helplessly in the neighborhood parks.
What a wonderful world we have created!