January 27, 2015 13:32
The first batch of Korean medical workers returned home Monday after treating patients in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone for a month. There were no crowds at Incheon International Airport welcoming them back, not even a brief photo session.
Even the government officials who went to welcome them just greeted them briefly in a secured zone before they were whisked away to a quarantine facility in an undisclosed location.
The medics risked their lives in scorching temperatures to treat Ebola patients. They volunteered to go even though they were guaranteed no rewards or bonuses.
In the U.S., by stark contrast, President Barack Obama personally held a press conference with medical workers who came home after treating Ebola patients and hailed them as "true heroes." And Time magazine selected medics treating Ebola patients as the Person of the Year 2014.
Korea's medical workers were not just denied a hero's welcome -- they had to return home quietly due to fears that they and their family members would be treated as pariahs, shunned by a panic-stricken public, and asked for their identities not to be disclosed.
But that does not mean that the government can now just wash its hands of them. President Park Geun-hye ought to invite them to Cheong Wa Dae to honor them even if the ceremony is held in private. They deserve the highest praise.
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