Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What's on My Mind

Today is April 2nd.

This probably doesn't mean much. In the US people are still thinking of April Fool's and how exciting that is. Jokes are being made about oddly curious things. Someone will make up a news story. NPR broadcast the best story ever about KFC filling potholes in Chicago. There is lots of fun.

Indeed we were joking around in the teacher's lounge about the various odd stories that crop up around April Fool's. One of the best jokes that a teacher had heard was a friend from the US writing an emergency early morning text message "Dude, a missile just hit Tokyo." There was a small moment of weird tension before he followed the statement with "I was like 'What?!' and then he said 'April Fool's'". We then laughed and felt insane relief.

The relief comes from knowing that sometimes this week North Korea is going to launch a "satellite". This has pretty much been internationally recognized as a cover for a test launch of the Taepodong 2 missile; a missile North Korea claims could hit a target in the US, most notably somewhere in Alaska. Although the larger goal is to hit someplace in the West Coast. North Korea is not actually planning to hit the US, but the current launch will take the missile over Japan where it will either succeed orbit as a telecommunications satellite or nosedive into the ocean as a test missile launch.

Japan has been adamant that this will be seen as a threat
. They are threatening to shoot down any debris that might fall over the country though it is assumed that Japan will not try to take down the missile directly. Hilary Clinton was in country a few weeks ago urging North Korea to give up the plan to do so. The North is stomping it's feet and saying any attempt to shot down any part of this will be seen as an act of war. On that front North Korea recently kidnapped two Korean-American journalists who were reporting on NK. From all the reports I've seen these journalists were not in North Korea but on the Chinese side of the line. NK crossed the line, took them, and is currently putting them on trial for spying on North Korea. They have also been threating planes to the point where flights that crossed into North Korean airspace have been rerouted.

South Koreans, the ones on the ground, the ones I work with, say the same thing. North Korea does this all the time, don't worry about it. Indeed the story hardly gets any serious coverage from the South. The news reports that the government has current hard line policies, they don't intend to change those. Other than that most South Koreans don't really pay that much attention to it.

Which leave us. The foreigners who live here. We worry. We are the ones that wonder how this will affect our lives. We look at our families, our jobs, our bank accounts. We think of how we will get out of country should the worst happen. We know that in Daegu, where we live, we will have 30 minutes before a bomb launched from the North hits.

30 minutes.

We make the fantasy plans anyway. And we hang out with our South Korean friends hoping that their nonchalant attitude will rub off and hold us up through yet another jarring political time.

This is the fourth missile test I've lived through here. Each time though I worry just as much as the last time and will until the damn thing is over.


Tony said...

I enjoy your insight over there. I still don't know why we put up with the North Korea bullies.

David said...

Everything you posted is totally true. Some of my Korean friends would tell me not to worry about what North Korea does. I got the feeling from some of them that they didn't really want to talk about the subject.

Saradevil said...

Yeah, North Korea likes to be a pushy little bastard. There really isn't a whole lot to be done. They WILL launch the stupid rocket and then get slapped with sanctions which will just start this whole vicious cycle all over again.

Doesn't look like the decided not to launch today, but their window is for anytime this week so who knows.


And yeah, Koreans just hate talking about it for some reason.