Are you thinking of coming to South Korea but worried about our neighbors to the north? With recent threats of bombs and missiles, many new channels back home and all over the internet have been filled with the new “threat” that is North Korea, but the reality is…. this isn’t new. North Korea has been a sheltered country for the last 60 years or so. The people have been told that they live in a glorious country, that Americans are crazy/backwards/dangerous, and that living anywhere else is not the way to go. The government is ran on fear and keeps a presence with scare tactics. North Koreans can be imprisoned or killed for anything deemed not conducive to this propaganda. I heard some were even punished for not crying at Kim Jong-Il’s death/funeral. I also like to say that… the country is starving and for want of many things. I feel this is the reasoning for the latest round of threats, but why are we just hearing about it now on American news? Well, I guess they are getting their ducks all in a row so to speak and actually arming themselves so their bite might just be as bad as their bark.
For years, North Korea has been a sort of psychological terrorist and the tensions on the peninsula have never really eased. That being said, from my experience here, South Koreans pay very little attention to North Korea’s antics and seem to regard any mention of them s childish tantrums. I remember my second time here there was a threat on South Korea and I hadn’t known until my family called me worried. No one seemed to even pay it any mind. Despite all this, foreigners come and go constantly. The ones who have been here start to feel like the Koreans and do not react. The newer people always get really worried as do those with families. It is to be expected and not at all to be thought as ridiculous. Although nothing really has happened, that isn’t to say it won’t. Come to South Korea, it isn’t unsafe. My recommendations for coming and not leaving caution to the wind is this:
- First and foremost, have a plan.
- Register with your embassy when travelling abroad (not just to South Korea). The U.S. government has something called the STEP program. You can find it here: https://step.state.gov/step/. This program just alerts the U.S. government where you will be and in case of evacuation, they will come get you and take you to safety.
- Get a bag ready and a pack a change of clothes, some high calorie non-cook foods, and anything you feel you might need.
If you are prepared, then you should be fine. Come and enjoy yourself in this beautiful, friendly(, and sometimes crazy) country!