Scared of North Korea? South Korea scoffs at your fear

By Lucien Crowder | August 14, 2017

Were you feeling a little tense last week? So was everyone else. Between the new US intelligence assessment that North Korea could miniaturize its nuclear weapons and Donald Trump’s fire-and-fury proclamation, you’d have thought the world had reverted to an earlier decade—one when Americans, who today seem to enjoy a nearly unassailable security, were forced to contemplate their own vulnerability to death from abroad.

Now, imagine if you were South Korean. You’d be freaking out, right? Well, sure, you’d be freaking out—but South Koreans aren’t. In Seoul, “[L]ife goes on as usual and a lot of people are unfazed by what is going on.” That’s the assessment of Haeryun Kim, a South Korean magazine editor interviewed days ago by the website Vox. Foreigners, Kim reports, often ask her what she thinks about North Korea and whether Kim Jong-un is crazy. In South Korea, she reports, “People certainly don’t have that level of interest.”

Why the blasé attitude? Is it that living under nuclear threat for so long inures you to all danger? Sort of, but it’s more than that. South Koreans, Kim seems to say, have gotten in the habit of treating North Korea with a studied indifference. The indifference conceals both fear of Pyongyang and familial feelings for North Koreans.

It sounds like an uncomfortable mix of emotions. But if only the DMZ separates you from Kim Jong-un, how you feel is your own business.


Publication Name: Vox
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