From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

What’s Really Happening in South Korea despite North Korea’s Threat

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Last night, when my Mom and I talked on the phone, she was anxious, because of the news about North Korea’s threat to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against South Korea and the US.

I told her that there’s nothing to worry about. Everything in SK is quite normal. Everybody is busy, as usual. The children go to school; parents go to work. People here don’t seem to give a damn about the threat. Even the government seems unfazed, though Seoul’s Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin stated that, if provoked, South Korea will retaliate.

Mom was trying to convince me to stay in the Philippines with my husband while threats of war are on the rise. I remember in 2010, Mom said the same thing to me when she learned from the news that North Korea bombed Yeongpyeong Island, taking the lives of two soldiers and two civilians. I can’t blame Mom if she panics. If there were a threat of war against my country, Filipinos would be alarmed. After the bombing of a popular shopping mall in Manila, Philippines several years ago, most Filipinos were afraid to go to the malls. Koreans, on the other hand, are unperturbed by possible attacks or bomb threats, especially those who live in the city.

A few days after North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, called for missiles to be put on standby, I was in Seoul doing some shopping with a Korean friend. Jamsil underground shopping center and Lotte Department Store were packed with busy shoppers, and it wasn’t even a weekend. It was a typical peaceful day in South Korea. I was sitting in front of a subway TV for a long time, finishing my coffee, but news about North Korea wasn’t flashed on the screen. At home, people watch news updates about North Korea’s warnings of nuclear war (My in-laws do every night when they come home from work.) and in the subway, some commuters watch the news in their tabs or smart phones, but after that, it’s as if they have just watched a Korean soap opera that isn’t going to happen in real life.

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Book shoppers flock Kyobo bookstore in Jamsil.

Rush hour traffic in Seoul

Rush hour traffic in Seoul

It's another ordinary day for these two boys coming home (or going to the hagwon) from school.

It’s just another ordinary day for these two boys coming home from school or from the hagwon.

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Bars and hoffs are open for business until dawn, and customers, unmindful of threats from the North, keep coming to have a good time.

Despite many threats being lashed out by the North every now and then, South Koreans remain calm. I don’t know how they do it, but perhaps it has something to do with being too preoccupied with their daily lives, with what is and not with what will be or may be. When I asked one of my Korean co-teachers what she thinks about the threats, she said, “We are used to it.” Since Korea was divided into two territories, South Koreans have lived their lives under North Korea’s military intimidation. There has always been the possibility of war between the two countries, but majority of South Koreans take it for granted and choose to move on.

This morning, my husband and I were talking about the threats. I asked him if they ever talk about them at work. He told me that they don’t.

As he was finishing his meal and enjoying a cellphone game at the same time, I wondered how he and most Koreans can shrug the whole thing off. “Aren’t South Koreans afraid of war?”, I inquired. “We are,” he replied, “but we can’t do anything about it.”

“If war breaks out, and our government rescues Filipinos living here, will you go with me to the Philippines?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not? You are my husband.”

“We won’t be allowed to leave the country. I have to stay and join the war.”

I thought about what my husband said, and even if I am blasé about North Korea’s habitual blackmailing, like many South Koreans, I hope, we all hope, that there won’t be war or reason for war.

I urge my family and friends to pray for South Korea and other countries involved in this quagmire. There’s no need to worry this time. SOUTH KOREA IS STILL A PEACEFUL COUNTRY. Hopefully, it stays that way.

12 thoughts on “What’s Really Happening in South Korea despite North Korea’s Threat

  1. No need to worry, Tukusigal. ^^ I’m sure that your son knows pretty well that this is just one of North Korea’s habitual blackmailing tactics. BTW, congratulations and best wishes to your son and his wife. =)

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  2. Yes, Ms. Brook, being optimistic, or rather, “apathetic” helps Koreans deal with their troubles in life… but there are times when they should stop and think for a while about what needs to be done, don’t you think? =)

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  3. I have the same fear, so I always tell my husband I’ll take him with me to the Philippines… no matter what happens.

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  4. Thank you for praying for peace, Madison. =) God bless you.

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  5. Parents always worry about their children. Sometimes their worrying too much drives us crazy, but somehow we appreciate their love and concern. =)

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  6. Hi, Chrissantosra. What you wrote is exactly the same as what my son told me. He was married to a Korean girl last year but they have to live separtely for a while – his wife is back in Seoul for now. My son visited his wife for a few weeks right when North Korea started the turmoil again. My husband I were very nervous, but my son told us the people in Seoul were just busy living usual life every day. Actually I have read in the Japanese news journal that North Korea actually does not even have enough fuel to wage a war. After they do any mitilary demonstration to scare other countries, they run out of fuel completely. I hope this is true and there will never be a war.

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  7. I also doubt that there will be war, but when I think if there is, my boyfriend will be sent to the front lines it makes my skin crawl…

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  8. Thank you* for posting about this Chris. “too preoccupied with daily lives” and living with “what is” instead of what may be. That sounds like a good way to stay calm.

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  9. I really pray that everything will stay as peaceful as it seems now. Worry got the best of me so i kakao-called my husband to check if things were fine. But he seemed unrelented hehe. He said everything’s fine. I also asked him (we got married two weeks ago :p) about this and asked him if he can seek refuge here in PI just in case there’s an outbreak of war there… but he also gave me the same line:”We can’t leave the country. I have to protect it…my family is also here”
    My selfish alterego resurfaced…”but…I’m your family now…”(sorry eomeoni… Hehe)
    My heart itched a bit but he made me realize the weight of their patriotism. I know I would do the same here coz it’s my country…

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  10. I will include everyone in my prayers then. God Bless South Korea. Though I am still praying that one day North Korea & South Korea will put a dot on this.

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  11. I was wondering about that too. How do South Koreans take the threats…. Do they get scared or what…. SO now I see. It is kind of the same for me. WHen there is, let;s say a tornado somewher ein US, my parents hear about it in Russia and they start calling me and worrying…. So I understand you…🙂

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