I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people back home about the situation between North and South Korea right now. I’m no expert on the politics of the situation, but I can tell you what I’ve noticed about it since coming here.
First, the tension between the two Koreas seem to be far more present on the Western news than it is on Korean news. When I’ve had occasion to catch the news here, there has been far more coverage of baseball than of impending nuclear disaster (I think they have their priorities straight).
I feel like South Koreans are much more used to, if not necessarily comfortable with, their crazy neighbor-to-the-north. If Canada suddenly started threatening war against the United States tomorrow, then yes, it would be all over the news worldwide. But if Canada was always crazy, and always threatening us and our allies, then it becomes a bit more normalized.
Yes, South Korea and the US have started taking more precautions. Yes, the North is acting a little crazier than usual. It’s slightly unnerving, but South Koreans themselves don’t seem nearly as worried as the media would have us believe. Until they break coverage of Hyun-Jin Ryu, the star Korean pitcher that the Dodgers are about to sign, I’m not going to panic.
(Note: I was going to mention that I have not heard any South Koreans discussing North Korea since coming here, but that seemed like an unfair statement because I also cannot understand 99.9% of Korean conversation. So I stuck to what I can observe on the news, which is accompanied with helpful moving pictures.)