South Koreans to be equipped with gas masks

South Korean residents near the border with North Korea, including those on the five islands near the Western Sea border,  are set to receive gas masks by 2012 in case of a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attack.

The National Emergency Management Agency said it pushed for the plan to give out gas masks to reservists and residents in the next two years, according to North Korea is thought to possess thousands of tons of chemical weapons that it is capable of delivering through the use of long range artillery.

There are currently 3.92 million reservists but only enough gas masks for 3.3 million. NEMA intends to consult with government authorities about acquiring more. Nearly 80 percent of those living in the five West Sea islands, including the attacked Yeonpyeong Island, have masks. Slightly farther inland, the rate falls to only 30 to 40 percent.

Since there were no technological standards in place by the government until this year, it has been especially difficult finding the proper equipment, reports.

Based on the new standards, manufacturers plan to sell gas masks for civilian usage that cost approximately $44. A NEMA official said that this will make large-scale procurement much easier to accomplish.