Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Koreas

Most importantly, I’m fine.  The area where the most recent North Korean attack took place is very, very far away from me.  For those that don’t know the geography, I’m in a country about the size of the state of Indiana and I am located almost perfect center.  Yeonpyeong island is very far north, and depending on which news site you subscribe to, it’s only 2-6 miles from the North Korean border. According to the South, they have owned this island since the Korean war.  According to the North, they have owned it since 1999.  The North doesn't like the South practicing miliary drills on "their" island.  That's what this is all about.

The most notable part of being here through this is that the country just kept going after the attacks. No one skipped a beat. I think that shows how much this is just a part of their life here. I was at Disney when September 11 happened and it felt like the entire world shut down.  Walt Disney World closed it’s doors for one of only a handful of times in their almost thirty year history.  Universities, airports, and a multitude of companies shut down for the day.  The country literally stopped when the twin towers were hit.  As a testament to the terror it invoked, almost 10 years later I am still getting emotional thinking back to that day even though I was only 20 years old.

Although this doesn't rightfully compare in tragedy, 4 people died instead of thousands, it is a sincere act of terror directed at South Korea, lives were lost, and families everywhere were affected.  Everything here  has been exactly the opposite of my September 11 experience.  I first read about the attack on facebook of all places and I have yet to hear any Korean adults even speak about it.  A few of my students have brought it up, some wondering if I had heard, while others took a more comical approach. The foreigners really seem to be the only ones concerned, and about half of them are concerned more about the value of the won falling than for safety. 

I did a remarkable amount of research (for me anyway) on North Korea and the political climate over here before I made the decision to come. A lot of it is political posturing.  North Korea is the little bully on the playground and wants the world to take them seriously.  They believe in scaring people to attain respect and they want the world to be scared of them, just as their citizens are.  A lot of the media response seems to be just that. North Korea wants their name in the news, they want to show everyone how big and powerful they really are.  As you would with any celebrity gossip columnist - please, take what you read with a grain of salt.

It’s also true that at some point this will inevitably come to a head and something huge and tragic will happen.  If you throw enough “fake” punches, eventually you’re going to hit your target and really piss somebody off. (Sorry, I couldn’t think of a better word.) Whether that happens now or years from now only time will tell. As far as I’m concerned, if the South Koreans aren’t worried, I’m not worried.

I am registered with the Embassy here so if anything escalates to a level of real concern I will be alerted.  I also have the ability to leave anytime I chose, I am not bound by contract to stay. Charles and I can skip town anytime we no longer feel comfortable here.

Moral of the story, this isn’t something to get yourself worried about just quite yet.  I have attached some news articles and the Korean news website at the bottom if you want to look through it. If I hear anything new, I will let you know.

Loves and hugs,

Why North Korea attack isn’t a crisis.

The Korean Herald - a really good news resource

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