Thursday, November 25, 2010

Korean Tensions, or Lack Thereof

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

After two complete days of absorbing Seoul, Korea, the one thing that stands out to me is the complete lack of any apparent tension over the recent provocation from the north.  Yesterday there were several police buses parked outside of the Gate 10 at the Army Garrison at Yongsan, with several of those young policemen patrolling up and down the street - but that seemed to be more theatre than anything else.  There has been some local television coverage of the damaged houses and people who had to flee their homes, but there is no sense of a national crisis.

Basically South Korea seems to have waved its fist in the air and said "You better not do that again!"  South Korea is wealthy and industrialized, while North Korea is dirt poor and militarized to the teeth.  An all out war between the two countries would be catastrophic, for each of them as well as the United States and probably China.

Seoul is a big, bustling, modern city, and life seems to be going a brisk pace - all commerce, no fear.  The amount of wealth in this region is immense - nice cars, clothes, and electronic gizmos.  If there is a poor area hiding someplace in the urban sprawl, we have yet to encounter it.  I have not seen any homeless or street people.  How many major American cities can make that claim?  Seeing this place leaves me wondering if we are really as wealthy in America as we like to think.

Tomorrow we are heading to the coast, so maybe I will get a more balanced perspective on the country of South Korea from that side trip.

Notes on Place Names:

We met a Korean lady at the airport in Incheon.  She told us that "san" means mountain.  Loosely translated, Osan (where the U.S. has a large airbase) is "crow mountain,"  Busan is "bay mountain," and Yongsan (the army base where we are staying and where President Obama visited two weeks ago) is "dragon mountain."  Our hotel at Yongsan is actually called "Dragon Hill."

1 comment:

Tim said...

This sounds like the coolest trip ever. Makes me want to check it out someday. Have another great day!