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National emergency management system: The United States and Korea

Kyoo-Man Ha, PhD, CEM, Ji-Young Ahn, MD


The purpose of this article is to contribute to the ultimate goal of emergency management by comparing the similarities, differences, and implications of the national emergency management systems in the United States (US) and Korea. The primary tenets, or similarities, differences, and implications, are as follows: (1) Both the US and Korean governments have tried to define basic emergency terms, but the Korean definitions are less based on national consensus. It is proposed that the Korean government aim for more national agreement on its definitions. (2) Local governments in the two nations play a direct role in dealing with emergency; yet, the US national system is decentralized, while the Korean one is centralized. Each system has tried to adopt the other’s principle for better management. (3) Although the roles of three nongovernment partners in these two nations are clearly outlined, each problem which they face is unique to their own environment. Through globalization, Korea has developed the framework of three nongovernmental players in emergency management. (4) Military principles, emergency exercises, and training have been used extensively in both nations. In the United States, fire officials have competed with law enforcement officials for resources, whereas the Korean fire officials have competed with civil engineers for resources. These rival groups should eliminate politicking with competition, thus fostering a common purpose among them.


emergency management, United States, Korea

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