Under Attack

24 Nov

Yeongpyeong Island after the attackYesterday North Korea attacked South Korea.  Yes North Korea regularly reiterate that they are a force to be reckoned with yesterday’s actions are a little bit more severe than I anticipated.  Yes two soldiers died and 16 soldiers and civilians were seriously hurt.  It’s not as bad as the sinking of the Cheonan in March where over 40 soldiers died.  The significance of yesterday’s attack is that it is the first attack aimed at a South Korean civilian area since the end of the war in 1953.   Yeonpyeong island has been the cause of many disputes between the two Koreas over the years.  Although it is South Korean territory it is located a mere 12.5km from the North Korean coastline.

My co-workers were both shocked and outraged when they learned (from me) of the attack.  My co-teacher immediately wanted to know if I was going to go back to South Africa ans she said that she wanted to go with.  But for the most part the South Koreans are not worried.  Yes the military has been placed on high alert but North Korea has played this game for 60 years, so they have become quite resilient to the threats.  I am not worried, yet.  The attack wasn’t on the mainland and a full-blown war seems a bit far-fetched.  Both countries (and their allies) just has too much to lose.

We received a notification from the embassy today that informed us that we should stay calm as the situation is under control.  I am relieved that we finally got something out of the embassy because in March everyone struggled to get anything from them.  If it comes to that they informed us that they will send through evacuation procedures, but I doubt that this whole thing will go any further.  

Last night as I was watching a movie I suddenly heard a very loud ans strange noise.  I rushed to the window and saw a fighter jet fly over.  I am nowhere near an air base so I’ve never seen them in my area.  This made me realise once again that North Korea is a legitimate threat and that the jet is either training, patrolling or just being visible.  Strange feeling.  In South Africa we don’t have any enemies.  We are not involved in any wars, no one wants to make war against us and even terrorists keep away.  So to be in a country where another country poses a constant threat is kind of nerve wrecking.   I mean it’s not a constant worry but instances like yesterday just make you realize that the potential of a full-scale attack is not impossible.

In 2005 I lived in London during the London bombings, in fact I did not live too far away from King’s Cross and those attacks shook me.  I was scared for weeks after the bombings and being suspicious of any veiled person with a backpack.  There is just something about feeling a threat like this that is hard to describe.  North Korea is constantly in our conversations, sometimes we laugh and joke and other times like yesterday we are more serious.  The fact is living in South Korea it is impossible;le to escape to gripping claws of the North.

Today it is business as usual here in Daegu and although the attack is still fresh the people here just carry on like before.  They’ve learned to cope with it.  So let’s hope and pray that this is the end of it and that nothing more will come of this.

Cheers from Kimchiland!

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