"Urging for a Society that Trusts and Upholds Scientific Expertise: Reflections on the Fukushima Contaminated Water Issue Symposium"
In recent days, the political discourse in South Korea has revolved around the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) final report on the Fukushima contaminated water issue, with some labeling it as a "meaningless report" or a "tailored report for Japan." On the day of the "Fukushima Contaminated Water Crisis Symposium" held at the Korea Science and Technology Center, I had the opportunity to join the discussion alongside overseas Korean scientific experts.
On that day, I expressed my deep concern about the current state of affairs in Korea, where science is being used as a political tool. A mature society is one that trusts and acknowledges authorities who have dedicated decades to research, and the current situation in Korea, from a scientist's perspective, is disheartening. I also mentioned instances such as mad cow disease, THAAD, and the Cheonan incident, where scientific evidence was disregarded, and the Fukushima contaminated water crisis has unfortunately become another topic that doesn't seem to align with long-term national interests.
The biggest problem arising from not believing in facts based on scientific data is the significant societal cost that must be paid. Science is a battle of numbers and facts, and discussions should be grounded in these principles. The current situation in South Korea, where there is a direct contradiction of scientific data from international organizations, is bewildering.
During the symposium, I, along with Dr. Kim Young-ki, Chair Professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Yoo Jeong-ha, Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, Dr. Kim Joon-bum, Professor at Arts et Métiers ParisTech in France, and Mr. Yoo Jung-il, former Senior Officer of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, encouraged South Korea to strive for a society where experts are recognized and trusted.