Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Gathering Storm

North Korea has been particularly belligerent lately but you wouldn't know it to watch Seoulites going about their business, just like always.

While the DPRK was successfully testing a nuclear device in an underground site in the northeast mountains, setting off ground vibrations that measured 4.5 on the Richter scale, South Koreans were glued to their TV sets--watching retrospectives on the life of former President Roh Moo-hyun. Roh committed suicide on May 23 by jumping off a cliff rather than defend himself against corruption charges.

Days later, Pyongyang moved a long-range missile to a new launch complex on a western peninsula called Cheolsan, and announced it was no longer bound by the 1953 peace accord that ended the hostilities we call the Korean War. South Koreans again watched their TVs closely, following hours and hours of coverage--of Roh's funeral procession ...

Vicious North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, in failing health, just announced that his successor will be youngest son Kim Jong-un--the most read article in today's Korea Herald is about a baseball player in a slump. And not even a player in the Korean league, but Lee Seung-yeop, who plays for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan!

This is not to say, though, that Koreans do not know what is going on--they do; nor am I insinuating they don't care--they do. It's just that they have lived with this threat, most of them, literally all their lives. Dear Leader Kim, or his father Great Leader Kim Il-sung, when they weren't busy exploiting the country's limited resources to build up the military and remain in power while starving the people and trampling their human rights, have been threatening to rain down death and destruction on the American puppet regime in the South for over fifty years now; heck, one time a group of NK assassins got within a few hundred yards of the President's compound at Cheong Wa Dae.

Just imagine a similar situation in the USA--actually, we don't even have to. America is "under attack" from Mexico, raining down illegal immigrants who bombard us with hard work and Catholic values for slave wages, and we want to build a twenty-foot electrified border fence patrolled by armed drones, creating our own DMZ. And Mexico is our ally. And doesn't even have nukes.

We call it sabre-rattling, what DPRK is doing, and they do it quite a lot, usually when they feel the world is not scared enough of them, or if they need some fuel oil or food. This is the way they bargain, and the folks in Seoul know it, know it all too well. Despite the threats from the North, all South Koreans continue to hope for eventual reunification. The government even has a Ministry of Unification. 30 miles from the most heavily weaponized border on earth, Seoulites still consider those on the other side to be members of the same extended family--they are Korean, after all.

There is something hopeful in that, which explains why I'm not trying to book a flight out, or stocking up on baked beans, duct tape, and saran wrap. My motto comes from the composer Eubie Blake, who said: "Pay the thunder no mind, listen to the birds." Still, when it looks like rain, take an umbrella.


Chris in South Korea said...

Nice article :) And yes, I bring an umbrella with me when it looks like rain :)

Jo-Anna said...

I agree....
Besides, what can we do? Are we supposed to hop the next flight home? There could be a war, but how many times over the past 50 years has this happened? Time will tell if this is something we really need to be worried about. The headlines in the JoongAng Daily read that China is reconsidering it's stance on DPRK. I think that nuclear test was a little too close to the border for comfort... folks living in that area of china are now freaking out about radiation poisoning... If DPRK has no friends then it doesn't stand a prayer in war...

John from Daejeon said...

I don't know where you have been living, but the U.S./Mexican border region is really bad right now. The U.S. appetite for illegal drugs has a lot to do with it, but half of the murders in Hidalgo County, Texas this year have been committed by illegal aliens. Also, Phoenix is being overrun by drug-related kidnappings. I just hope the beheadings don’t follow as they are prevalent in Mexico right now.

Granted, it's always the few that spoil it for the rest, but Mexico, itself, is having a hard time dealing with the corruption stemming from this problem and thousands are dying from it (much from corrupt members of their own police and military forces). Basically, 10% of their entire nation is now living illegally in the U.S. and those remittances that accounted for so much of the Mexican economy have dried up in this economic downturn leading to more instability at home and in the enclaves of immigrants fighting for the few jobs in the U.S.

I don’t know why more work visas aren’t granted, but I do know that many Mexicans feel that they deserve all the openings due to their proximity to the U.S. I should know, as I’ve employed many of my own Mexican cousins in the past. They’ve even become quite agitated when I’ve employed those from other countries on occasion and sometimes the tensions which quite often led to fisticuffs could have easily ended in bloodshed. Eventually, the U.S. will need these millions of workers to shore up the shaky ground that the millions of baby-boomers are going to cause as they stampede into retirement in terms of social security funding and taxes.

Charles Montgomery said...


America is "under attack" from Mexico, raining down illegal immigrants who bombard us with hard work and Catholic values for slave wages

classic stuff!