Between the incredibly beautiful new blossoms, the weather finally inviting us to spend extended periods outside, and the promise of the approaching end of the school year, I have to say that spring is my favorite season here in Seoul. We were able to commemorate the season change with my parents a few weeks ago and got some of our annual photos at the university near our school. The girls were... somewhat cooperative. Enjoy!
If you get CNN, the BBC, Fox News, heck even if you get
facebook, you are probably aware that things here on the Korean peninsula are
not exactly… friendly. Just so we are all aware, the relationship between the
Koreas hasn’t been amicable for some time but right now tensions seem to be
I’m going to be frank with you. We learned the term “the CNN
effect” when we first started looking for international jobs. Recruiters warn hopeful
teaching candidates to be aware that news stories are often sensational and
that life in a country often isn’t what you see on CNN. Teachers who have
happily worked in places like Laos or Saudi Arabia corroborate their counsel declaring
that they couldn’t have been happier living in these questionable countries. I’m
going to tell you that I believe that there is a certain element of truth to
this “CNN effect.” If all I knew about the U.S. came from the news, I would
think that half the population was rioting for marriage equality while the
other half was somehow involved in a mass shooting. Not exactly an inviting
place to visit.
And so what does that mean for South Korea? Are we safe? Is
CNN blowing Kim Jong-Un’s “bellicose rhetoric” out of proportion? I don’t know.
I really have no idea how much of what we see on the news is sensational and
how much I need to be worried about. Truthfully, it is a little nerve-wracking.
My CNN app on my iPhone is constantly updating me with news about threats,
missiles, and Guam while the U.S. embassy here seems cool, calm, and collected.
Who do you trust? My brain says to trust the embassy and to look around at my
students and notice that all of the ambassadors’ kids are still in my class
taking notes and goofing off like any other day. But something in the back of
my mind is constantly on edge. I don’t want to be the fool who ignored all the
signs and ended up in a heap of trouble because no one told her to be more
careful. On the other hand, I don’t want to be like the Y2K wackos who built
bomb shelters and stocked them with water and canned goods for the supposed end
of the world. So where is the happy medium?
Message for U.S. Citizens
Embassy informs U.S. citizens that despite current political tensions with
North Korea there is no specific information to suggest that there are imminent
threats to U.S. citizens or facilities in the Republic of Korea (ROK). The
Embassy has not changed its security posture and we have not recommended that
U.S. citizens who reside in, or plan to visit, the Republic of Korea take
special security precautions at this time. The U.S. Embassy takes as its
highest priority the welfare of American citizens in Korea. Should the security
situation change, the Embassy will issue updated information.
Convinced? Again, the majority of my mind trusts the Embassy
and that it is in their best interest to act on the behalf of its dear citizens
abiding abroad. But, there is that little bit of me that isn’t sold. And so I
will go about my daily life. I will make dinner, teach class, enter grades.
But, I am also going to have a “go bag” packed and ready should we have to
skedaddle at a moment’s notice. Am I overreacting? Possibly. Do I care? Not a
lot. Judge me if you dare. Judge me for not being careful enough; judge me for
being too careful. I’m just doing the best with what I have, people.
I am hoping that one good thing will come from all of this
publicity. Perhaps this will be the summer when no one asks us which Korea we live in. SOUTH Korea, people.
SOUTH! They don’t like us much up North.