Adam: The North vs. The South. Not the Yankees and the Rebels.

Nov 24

Adam: The North vs. The South. Not the Yankees and the Rebels.

When we originally told people that we were moving to Korea, you automatically knew what they were thinking. “Don’t do it! North Korea is crazy.” I think most people thought we were moving to North Korea. Even though we didn’t, we’re really, really close to it. The close proximity is forgotten all too often by both foreigners and and citizens here, alike.

Let’s get down to the reality of the situation. North Korea and South Korea are still at war. The Korean War never ended. South Korea is the size of Kentucky, with the capital of Seoul less than 50 miles away from the border of North Korea. If North Korea wanted to attack South Korea, the casualties would be catastrophic. This is hardly any farmland in this country. People live on top of one another, packed in as close as possible. It takes 6 hours, in car, to get from the south of the country to the north. We’re crammed in like sardines. The hardest thing to teach children is the concept of a yard. We teach them about cutting the grass and playing in yards, but we might as well be teaching them about the truths of unicorns and leprechauns.

Yesterday, right before my last class of the day, around 5:40, one of the Korea teachers, Ellie, came into the teacher’s room and said, “Guys, just to let you know…North Korea just attacked South Korea. There are buildings on fire. We fired back.” Now, before I go any further, let me remind you that if you came to visit, you would never believe we live in a country “at war.” South Korea looks at North Korea like the dumb step brother that refuses to shut up for not getting their way all of the time. It’s a much bigger deal back home in the States than it is here. Even when the submarine sank back in March, nothing really changed.

However, I’m reminded of stories about jaded children who never get what they want…

Fires from North Korea's attack

After Ellie told us of the news, all of us foreign teachers didn’t know if we should go about it as another flare up or if it was something we should honestly be worried about. All I thought about was my wife. I immediately replied, “Umm…should someone contact the Embassy?” Ellie went right back to making copies, while our two supervisors discussed work-related stuff, I assume, at their computers. We were just standing there, some about to teach another class while some were heading home, with clueless, dumbfounded, and worried looks on our faces.

I went into my class of five 11-year-old girls, and immediately got on the internet to see the latest. I read that South Korea was doing a military drill less than 10KM away from the North Korea border. They were shooting artillery, just not AT North Korea. This pissed off North Korea and then they told the South to stop, who refused, saying they were doing nothing that wasn’t allowed. This is where I started getting pissed at the country I live in. We all know how North Korea acts. We all know how they would take this “military drill” by their border. Out of ALL places to have a drill, why SO CLOSE to the border? It makes me wonder if the South is trying to provoke the North. Yet, the North has sent several signs of “come and try and do something” yet the President keeps saying, “next time.”

Bethany and I both talked to our parents last night, trying to ease their worries about the situation. We sounded as upbeat as possible, just reminding them that nothing has changed. Drunk businessmen are still fumbling their ways into the Norebangs (karaoke rooms), while the kids are hustled to the next slave academy. Nothing has changed.

or maybe it has...

All of us foreigners were at work today talking about the seriousness (or lack thereof) of the situation. The only time ANY Korean person said anything to me about it today, she said: “My mom told me we should buy a lot of things.” I didn’t know what she meant. I didn’t have the care to try and make sense of that. None of our supervisors mentioned it. Now, I understand, from a business standpoint, you wouldn’t want to freak out your foreign work staff, having them pack their bags instantly and heading home. Without us, they have no job. However, making no mention whatsoever of the events of yesterday was incredibly inconsiderate. Even if they said, “Guys, I know some of you might be worried about the things that happened yesterday. But let me remind you that this has happened before and I would suspect there is nothing to worry about.” Maybe just some reassurance? Nothing.

Bethany’s school was just as silent.

If you asked me if I was worried, I would probably say no. Probably because the thought of war is inconceivable. I’ve lived in a country that seems to go to war for fun. We love war in America. If there’s no war to fight in, America just isn’t worth living in, it seems. But war was always so far away, it never had much meaning. It just became an after thought. War in Korea, becoming more and more apparent that it’s possible, is slowly starting to make me grasp onto the idea that it could be possible. South Koreans always forget how small their country is. I forget that at any minute, a missle could land outside our high-rise apartment. Luckily, we’re at the south of the south, but that just adds a small amount of breathing room for us here in Busan.

The USA and South Korea are going to do more “drills” starting this Sunday for 3 days on the Yellow Sea, the same place the North supposedly torpedoed the South Korea submarine. Are we trying to start a war here?

No one knows what’s going to happen in the future, if anything.

Christmas can’t come soon enough.

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