Yesterday, the news broke that the “U.S. and North Korea are on the brink of war.” After
yet more some muddled words uttered by Trump* during a press conference or meeting of some sort which suggested he would rain “fire and fury” down upon North Korea and Kim Jong Un should he further threaten the United States, the Western media have had a field day reporting on the obviously impending war in the Orient (and Guam).
I’m no expert on the current situation, nor do I know much of its history. However, what I do know is that Kim has made many threats across the years, and the South and North have even exchanged artillery fire a few times, BUT (since the 1990s) never has this escalated beyond a few rounds being fired. Now, the current news doesn’t really include the South much in the story, but whatever happens, they’ll be involved in some way or another. Nonetheless, the main point of this post isn’t to talk about Trump’s idiocy and how the tensions are particularly palpable this time around because of him and not because of Kim. No, what I wanted to address was the age-old question that ANY expat moving to or living in South Korea has been or will be asked at some point in their lifetime:
“Aren’t you scared of North Korea?”
The conversation is the same, no matter who instigates it.
Them: “Aren’t you scared?”
Me: “Scared? Of what?”
Them: “North Korea.”
Me: “Oh, that. Well, no.”
Them: “Really?! But why?”
Me: *Here we go again*
Some of you may be surprised to hear that I get asked this question. Some of you may be surprised that I get asked this question by South Koreans themselves. Some of you may have even asked me this question yourselves. Regardless, my answer is the same no matter who asks me.
No, I’m not scared.
Of course, every now and then when threats are thrown around as freely as a baby at a family christening I get a little sweaty, but it doesn’t take a lot to calm me. Here in South Korea I am surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who have been living for much longer than I have, through many more U.S.-North Korea pissing contests than I have, and none of them are particularly concerned. Interestingly, the introduction of Trump onto the scene is what has a few more people rattled than usual: my co-worker told me that the new president is the most worrying part of the whole thing. However, in general people aren’t concerning themselves too much with the cockfighting leaders. And as long as the South Koreans aren’t worried, I’m not either.
I’ve already admitted that I’m no expert on the situation, nor do I profess to know or understand either of the two men in the game particularly well. However, I’m personally of the opinion that they’re both all bark and no bite. Kim is not “crazy” as many people like to call him. Sure, he executed his uncle and he’s leading a cruel, totalitarian regime, but he is intelligent: he knows that there would be no way for him to win if he made a move on South Korea, or Guam, as per recent threats. And Trump is a little unhinged, but he too must hold a reasonable level of intelligence, as must the people surrounding him, considering he’s the President of the United States of America and all. I’d like to think that he would know better than to start what could be World War 3 over a few little remarks on North Korean ‘contemplations’ which are not much more than propaganda material for use within their own country, and not so much for the outside world.
I digress. No, I’m not scared of North Korea. Concerned about Trump, yes. But afraid of imminent death by invasion? No. And regarding all this talk of nuclear warheads, well, quite frankly if one hits Seoul tomorrow then I’ll be gone before I even know it. (Cheery Hannah, real cheery. But you know what mean.)
*I thought long and hard about what to replace his name with. I didn’t particularly want to utter his name on the comfortable space that is my blog, but calling him “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”, akin to Lord Voldemort, was blasphemy against the eloquent and intelligent dark wizard and his phenomenal creator, J.K. Rowling. I thought about mocking his name, but ‘Flump’ would be insulting towards the lovely marshmallows of my childhood and ‘Plump’ goes against my views on body shaming. I stuck with Trump in the end, mainly because I didn’t want to afford his name much more thought, and, being British, Trump means ‘fart’. Pretty appropriate if you ask me, since all he seems to do is blow out a load of hot air, and most of it stinks.
Header photo taken in 2013 at Dorasan Station in the DMZ, South Korea. Dorasan Station is the last station in South Korea before the next station in the North. Between 2007 and 2008, freight trains were allowed to travel north into the Kaeseong industrial area, but have since been shut down due to conflict.