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.
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?”
“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.
- US Sends F-22 Jets to South Korea (foxnews.com)
- North Korea’s Nuclear Cul-de-Sac (nation.time.com)
- US Navy shifts destroyer in wake of N. Korea threats (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- NKorea’s Parliament Meets Amid Nuclear Tension (abcnews.go.com)
- Collapse Of North Korea Worse Than Threats (vancouversun.com)
- S. Korea president vows ‘strong’ retaliation on North (straitstimes.com)
- U.S. keeps close watch on North Korea as threats continue (cbsnews.com)