Thursday, May 28, 2009

End of the Armistice

I took this picture in the Demilitarized Zone looking into North Korea in early 2008. Note the creepy guy with binoculars in the left window.

Although the Western media loves to make a big fuss over North Korea, South Koreans' typical response to the antics of North Korea can be summed up in one word: "Meh." They've lived beside them for so long, and have dealt with so much crap over the years, that for them it's no big deal. That isn't to say that they don't care; South Koreans are deeply saddened about the division of their homeland, but they don't freak out the way the West does every time North Korea rattles its sabre.

The thing is, North Korea might threaten South Korea and Japan and the US, but it isn't really about those countries at all. The fact that they have to do this speaks to the fact that the regime is probably crumbling from the inside, and they have to attack an "outer enemy" to ensure unity within. The US, South Korea, and Japan are the most convenient scapegoats. The Western media does not seem to have picked up on this.

After two years here, I've kind of adopted an indifferent attitude towards the North and its antics. I have to say, though, that the idea of the armistice being over is hugely unsettling. If the North did attack, their resources are so limited, their military so antiquated, that they wouldn't stand much of a chance...but they could cause a lot of damage in the interim.

I keep picturing what would be going through the mind of a North Korean soldier marching into Seoul and seeing the buildings, the lights, the cars, the stores, the prosperity. What would they think? Everything I've ever been told was a lie? Or, after a lifetime of indoctrination, would that only drive him to greater fury?

It's hard to know.

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