Wednesday, November 24, 2010

North Korea Attacks

Tuesday afternoon while I was working at school we got word that there had a been an attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. This area has been a hot bed of tension as it lies near the boarder. In the past disputes had occurred between military ships on the open sea, never on S. Korean soil. In March the Cheonan, a S. Korean ship, sank in this area due to a missile strike that was later identified by an international investigation to be of N. Korean origin.

A picture from after the attack. Heavy artillery was used against the island. 

It was discovered today that there were two civilians casualties from yesterday's events. When talking with my adult students about the situation some were quite open and frank about their opinions and why N. Korea had attacked. Others refused to have a discussion because in their minds there was nothing to discuss. The attack happened and it was meant to provoke. South Koreans have worked so hard rebuilding their country from the rubble of the Korean War. When I look around Seoul I try to think how to paint a picture of this city that's filled with skyscrapers, people who work 60 hour weeks, modern art,  schools on every corner, and an impressive infrastructure that accommodates the 11 million people that live here. You can get cell phone reception on the subway here, you can't even do that in New York City. Hell, why would I want to talk on the phone when I can watch TV or the baseball game on my commute home.  It's an  economically strong country that proudly boasts about paying off their debt early to the IMF after the Asian Economic Crisis of 1997. To engage in war would shatter the foundation they've built. However, to be bullied around continuously poises the blatant threat.   

The attack happened about 90 miles away from Seoul.


  1. Jennie,

    Thanks for the post, I was wondering what you might have heard on the streets there. In your opinion, has this incident affected the people's psyche more than past incidents, like the Cheonan? For that one, I spoke with some South Koreans (you might know them) who thought it was feasible that the SK government sank the boat to consolidate its power, despite evidence to the contrary. Without strong action by China, I'm not optimistic that anything good is going to happen between the two countries in the near future. It certainly appears that negotiating efforts by the US are not doing anything. Thoughts?

  2. Sorry for getting back to you a little late. Yes, this most recent incident has definitely affected people's psyche more than with past incidents. Also the media is falsely reporting on recent protests. CNN exaggerated how many veterans were involved in a protest in Seoul that showed tear gas and violence. There were less than 200 people participating and in a city of 11 million that's not exactly an accurate depiction of the general public. We went downtown this weekend and saw nothing that made me concerned. In the university area near where I work there was a lone protester set up at a table near an intersection the other day. I'm interested to see what happens as the US and S. Korea resist China's talks.

  3. Thanks Jenny, it's hard to know what you see in the media over here is true and what is not. I'm glad I've got friends over there to help clarify things!