Unless you live under a rock (or in China with limited media access, like my friend Elisabeth), you know that yesterday North Korea attacked an island off of the coast of South Korea. Both civilians and military were killed and many injured on the island of Yeonpyeong. This island is on the maritime border and has been attacked in the past, this time possibly because of South Korean military exercises in the area. Other speculations are that there is some kind of power struggle or show of power occurring in North Korea because of the political transition from Kin Jong-Il to his son.
I’ve been following the story primarily on BBC and they’ve got some great Q&A style articles in addition to current news. Also, American news media seems to care more that Prince William is getting married. I was video chatting with my mom yesterday and she told me that when she turned on the morning news she had to sit through a 10 minute tour of Buckingham Palace and speculations on the bride’s dress before Korea even got a mention. Sheesh.
In the past, I’ve certainly joked around about how close to the DMZ I live and pshawed worries of friends and family at my moving over here, but I can’t lie and say that I’m not concerned right now. My main fears stem from not knowing the language–I can get along well enough to grab a server’s attention or greet someone and have been studying my alphabet, but in any kind of emergency situation, I would be at a loss. I’m registered with the US Embassy in Seoul and my school is my visa sponsor which gives them a certain amount of responsibility but self reliance would be key in a true crisis. And I’m honestly not sure what I would do.
Koreans themselves don’t seem overly concerned though. Their understanding of the situation is I’m sure much deeper than mine and they’ve got language and familiarity with their surroundings on their side. Plus, this is something they’ve been dealing with since the 50s. Younger generations lack the acute memories of the older ones, but tension with the DPRK has still always been a fact of life for them.
For now, it’s best to keep myself informed, take a cue from my native co-workers, and just relax. Though I wish I hadn’t woken up to President Lee Myung-bak mentioning missile strikes this morning!