By Yoon Won-sup
The government Thursday declared Jeju Island, which was hit hard by Typhoon Nari, a national disaster area. The area is entitled to government subsidies, tax benefits and other assistance for rehabilitation projects.
``We decided to designate Jeju Island a disaster area because of serious damage caused by the typhoon,'' said Moon Won-kyong, administrator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Moon said the financial aid will be given to victims immediately after their damage is assessed.
Typhoon Nari left 12 people dead and one missing with over 28 billion won worth of damage, according to the agency.
Residents on Jeju Island and public facilities will receive special aid packages from the government.
Tax deadlines will be extended for nine months and taxes imposed by local governments will be exempted for those who lost more than 30 percent of their property. The government will pledge up to 90 percent for recovery expenses of public facilities.
In addition, Jeju citizens will be entitled to pay less for health care and pension premiums, according to damage sustained.
Typhoon Nari smashed Jeju and southwestern parts of the nation Sunday before continuing off the East Sea Monday morning. About 940 people were evacuated to shelters nationwide.
However, the NEMA didn't designate Goheung, South Jeolla Province, as a disaster area because it considered the damage there not as serious compared with Jeju. The agency said it is considering designating Goheung a disaster area after more investigation.
In response, floor leaders of five political parties had an urgent meeting and urged the government to designate other areas hit by the typhoon including Goheung a disaster area.
The five parties agreed to look into including Goheung and other areas in the disaster area, they said in a statement issued after a meeting.