When I first came to South Korea, a little over two years ago, the international media was ablaze with predictions of doom on the peninsula. The North Korean government declared to the world that it was absolutely hellbent on turning Seoul into a “sea of fire.”
In spite of this – or, perhaps to some extent because of it – I moved all the way around the world on my own and settled in Daegu, South Korea. Immediately upon arrival, I was surprised to find that no one cared about the supposedly approaching holocaust. I asked people about it and they said it was no big deal.
Even the Korean press didn’t seem to care. What they knew, and I didn’t, was that this was old news. Rhetoric. North Korea has been declaring war for years. It’s actually a fairly successful strategy that has secured their sovereignty in spite of their awful predicament.
When you live in South Korea you are frequently woken by something called the “Doomsday Siren.” It’s an air raid alarm that sounds for several minutes at a time – usually in the morning – and is followed by a mandatory silence. Only emergency vehicles are allowed onto the streets in the following ten minutes.