Would an Expat Know: North & South Korea tensions on the rise

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Last Updated on November 24, 2010 by Christine Kaaloa

north and south korea tensions rise

South Koreans watch the North Korean bombardment of Yeonpyeong island, which left two soldiers dead. The White House described the attack as an ‘outrageous act’. Photograph: Yonhap/Reuters (Read article here)

Yesterday, South Korea’s Yeongpyeong Island was struck by a North Korean missile, killing 2 people and injuring 16. The hit list count was less that when North Korea sank a South Korean Naval ship this past March, resulting in 40 casualties;  yet this recent news still makes South Koreans a bit nervous.

North Korea’s belligerent actions are begging attention and South Koreans aren’t certain Lee Myung Bak will handle it.


South Koreans and their TV

While South Koreans tend to view the North’s antics as a bad brother they have gotten used to. Many are still a little nervous, uncertain what Lee Myung Bak will do.  To South Koreans, both dueling leaders are cut from the same untrustworthy cloth. Kim Yong Ill has an excuse– he is crazy;  whereas Lee Myung Bak is as popular with South Koreans as  George Bush Jr was to Americans!

That evening, Koreans were glued to the news vs. their favorite K-drama (which is a common case).  Everywhere I went, I saw mouths agape watching the tv with furrowed brows. The crowd draw wasn’t nearly as big as the soccer match, though…

wdmh8qf3North & South Korea tensions on the rise

Being an expat as North & South Korea tensions rise

How do I feel during this time of possible war outbreak? Truthfully, I’m as indifferent as a sitting duck wading in oblivion. Why? As an expat, I don’t always get the news. Many things are spoken around me, even in front of me and if it’s not translated, then it falls on deaf  KFL (Korean as a Foreign Language) ears.

Here at work, when the news broke, I hadn’t heard a thing. I wasn’t notified by the U.S. Embassy (though I signed up with them before I moved) and the school day went  on as normal.

If it weren’t for Facebook and postings of fellow expats (above photo posted on FB by yogi friend, Megan), I wouldn’t have even known what was happening!

When I told my co-teacher of the shocking news, she said she’d known about it and that it’s all over the news (It’s a shame I’m so busy working that I don’t get to surf the web for news… )!

This is a typical expat illness called “ Suffering from a Case of Foreign Language Barrier.  You miss out on all the vital news such as fire drills in the school, yellow dust warnings and North vs South Korea war-like details.

If it comes to war and evacuation is necessary, you’ll know where to find me. I’ll be sitting at my work desk… working.

Related article:
Life in Korea: emergency evacuation plans from South Korea (Chris in South Korea)

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  • Laura in Cancun
    November 26, 2010 3:10 am

    I heard about that yesterday… very sad and confusing event. I hope all goes *relatively* well.

    I’m the same as you! Stuff happens in Mexico (or even Cancun) and all my friends in the US hear about it before I do.

  • I’m glad to hear you seem to be well out of the zone of violence. But I feel bad that people didn’t inform you of what’s going on, knowing that you aren’t a native Korean speaker–I’m especially appalled that the US Embassy wasn’t in touch with you. Isn’t that the whole point of signing up with them???

    • @Gray: My point exactly! Maybe its just any administration in Korea that’s flawed. I didn’t get a notice for the March incident either… but I”ll tell you, the U.S. Embassy in Thailand continues to send me updates even though my trip ended several months ago.

  • I’m not worried about it. Unfortunately, this thing happens all too often. The stakes are really too high for either side to fully escalate, but then again anything is possible. All I know is that I don’t plan on leaving.

    • @Steve: I guess we’ll all go down together then! lol. Yes, if anyone makes a move it would mean a world war with many countries involved. This would be in neither party’s best interest.

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