It’s time I brought out the ugly monster that’s been hiding in the closet for days. I know, for a fact, that I’m not the only one thinking about ‘what-ifs’ concerning a certain power-driven country that has once again made it’s entrance, demanding attention.
North Korea’s threats of violence and war have become quite frequent over the past years, and even it’s closest neighbor, South Korea has learned to just shrugged off threats. Being somewhat of a ‘newbie’ to the culture/lifestyle of Korea (yes, a whole 1.25 years) I’m not sure how I should react to the new situation arising. It’s hard to turn a blind eye to North Korea since they have nullified the armistice (cease-fire) agreement, cut crucial communication lines between the two divided countries, and readied missiles for launch.
Is it super weird I find it a little bit exciting? A huge historical event could be unraveling before my eyes…and I’m HERE, maybe having the possibility to watch it happen. But even as I am typing that out, I can’t help but feel slightly unnerved by the fact that I live only hours from the border and would most likely see some of the crazy things that would take place during a war (that is if war hypothetically happened). Gulp.
Living as an expat in South Korea, my husband and I have begun to talk about what we would do if something would happen. I’ve also begun to notice how bizarrely uneducated the locals are to the whole situation. Just today (after watching the breaking stories off of CNN on youtube) I asked my older students (14-15) about what they thought of North Korean threats. My question was received with blank stares, like they had no idea what I was talking about.
How could a country so small be so out-of-the-loop? Maybe it’s just chosen ignorance, or maybe they simply just don’t care.. My co-teachers and school director don’t even talk about it at all during our small breaks in-between classes. Instead they choose to talk about the local festivals and gatherings they’re attending on the weekend, as well as what they’re going to go out shopping for next.
I couldn’t imagine what America would do if (for example) Canada was our largest enemy, with 10x the amount of military soldiers, and they decided to nullify any sort of cease-fire agreement we had, threatening war. People would be scattering like chickens, having psychiatric breakdowns, and buying out entire Walmart stores. Why? Because of what would be ‘dramatically’ portrayed on the news.
My dad had a pretty good point the other night when he told me his theory as to why S. Korean citizens don’t seem to know much about what’s going on. The government understands that once the people know of an imminent threat, this country would go into complete chaos (maybe even a mass exodus?!). Who knows. Just remember South Korea is the size of Missouri. North Korea is only 5 hours or so away from where I live on the very south eastern tip of Korea.
So how do I feel about this? I’m not that worried. I’ll start worrying as soon as I hear and see pictures of the first actual attack on the US or South Korea. I also know, after having recently registered with the US Embassy here, we will be alerted as soon as the area becomes an unsafe place to live.
A funny cartoon I found on google images…original source here. Gave me a chuckle, especially since this is how it seems 99% of South Koreans think of the North.
I still feel it’s safer living here than back in the US. Not only can I walk outside at night and not have to worry about getting shot, mugged, or raped, but I can leave my car unlocked and almost guarantee everything will still be there the next day. Don’t worry, old habits die hard. Derik and I both still exercise precaution…It’s just relieving to know we live in a generally ‘safe’ culture.
The opportunity we have to be here and teach English has been more than amazing. We have been so blessed with the opportunity to travel, live outside our comfort zone, attempt to learn a new language, and save money, it’s an easy decision to say, “Yes…we’ll stay here for as long as we can.”
Ultimately I know that God is in control. Who am I to think I am in control of my own life?
I’ll keep you updated on the topic of ‘war’ if things turn bad. Otherwise, this is the last you’ll hear from me on the subject.
Happy (almost) Weekend!
(p.s. You should check out this post: ‘The time i went to north korea’. I took a tour of the DMZ literally weeks ago. I’m glad I had the opportunity to go while I could! I’m pretty sure some areas of the JSA that we went to wouldn’t be accessible anymore. )