And I am still here in Seoul, safe, and well. While North Korea had reiterated its threat of "a nuclear war disaster" and promised to "inflict decisive and unrelenting punishment on aggressors that infringe upon the sovereignty and territory of our republic," just this Sunday, the response from Pyongyang to the resumpton of the periodic "war games" has been unusually calm. Says Korea Times:
The North gave a mixed response to the drill, which began at 2:30 p.m. after being postponed twice due to heavy fog.Prior to the drill, some 280 remaining residents of the Yellow Sea island were ordered into air raid shelters, according to JoongAng Daily, in its only really up-to-date online coverage. Until last month, Yeonpyeongdo was a sleepy fishing village with a marine garrison dug in due to the proximity to the NLL. It certainly doesn't resemble Baghdad in any way, shape or form, so one has to wonder who fell for this picture here:
“We have no interest in responding to each one of such despicable military provocations,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said, hinting that it may refrain from any immediate retaliation.
However, the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army, warned of harsh retaliatory measures, saying “its limitless revolutionary force” would wipe out the “strongholds of the American and South Korean warmongers” through stronger counter strikes than its earlier artillery attack on Nov. 23 [on Yeonpyeongdo, in which 2 South Korean civilians were killed].
The story reads, in part:
One particularly stunning aerial image of plumes of smoke coming from a bombed-out territory made it onto local broadcaster KBS and even CNN. It turns out that image was a fake. The territory being bombed wasn’t Yeonpyeong at all, but Baghdad during the initial days of the U.S. invasion of 2003.Okay, back from Lala Land. But not quite, as I'm now going to look at what some would call the two extremes of US news, Fox vs NYT.
Fox offers this: "The North on Monday, however, kept its rhetoric heated, saying it will use its powerful military to blow up South Korean and U.S. bases." Well, DPRK always talks tough, so no one actually reports on the bluffs, but on the small bits of meaning hidden away between the bully language. What, are you guys trying to stir things up?
NYT offers this snippet, amidst their coverage of Bill Richardson's stay in Pyongyang: "Earlier Monday, South Korean television showed footage of the few remaining residents of the island’s fishing community moving into bomb shelters and trying on gas masks as the mainland also braced itself for possible North Korean retaliation." In the context of those nearby trying on gas masks, one might suppose that we on the mainland "bracing ourselves" would include some kind of actual behavior toward that end.
Uh, nope. Not at all. I taught class during the entire timeframe of the fusillade, and never heard an air raid warning or anything. A couple hours later, I went to dinner utilizing a subway system totally free from emergency measures (apparent ones, at least). If "bracing yourself" means carrying on just like always, then they're right.
Each story comes with a photo from the AP (top, Fox; bottom, NYT):
Both photos have oodles of atmosphere and loads of tension. Personally, I prefer the second one, because it's more personal. Your thoughts? BTW, the yellow band reads 통일, meaning "Unity."
So, Dear Reader, I am still here in Seoul, still standing (well, sitting and typing), and proud to announce that this is blog post number 600 since I started gardening here in The Seoul Patch two and a half years ago!