[Letters] Indignant about public indifference

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[Letters] Indignant about public indifference

An old New York Times article titled “Here There Be Monsters” about the South Korean craze for the horror movie “The Host” (2006) gave me the idea that the public’s indifference here toward North Korean nuclear threats confuses people living overseas.

The articles starts off with the line, “Knowing what to be scared of is, sadly, a skill we all need. But South Koreans seem a bit confused about this, judging from what’s making waves in Seoul right now.”

Let set things straight: It’s not stupidity or the inability to “know what to be scared of” that’s caused South Koreans to appear indifferent. Rather, it’s the idea that unification will never become a reality and that not much can be done - or will be done - to make things much different.

If you take a close enough look at the short history of this nation, which is full of sweat and blood, this should be understandable. For many years, long before the U.S. or Japan took notice of the possibility of another war, talk about how eager North Korean leaders are for another fight had always been in the minds of South Koreans. It was always a reason to stay alert at all times.

My mother and some of my teachers have told me about how regular and often “the drills” took place when they were in college. Unlike now, people carried out the drills in a very serious manner. We are no longer scared or worried by the North’s threat. We are annoyed because we now see these “threats” from the North as pranks being pulled by leaders in Pyongyang. We wonder what they could possibly want from us this time. South Koreans are tired.

They are fed up with the North and its ridiculous diplomacy, selfish tactics and brainwashed citizens. Even the younger generation has had to learn about all of this over and over again in history, literature, art and music classes as well as in some of today’s most popular Korean movies, dramas, etc. They’ve had to learn how bad the South has been at handling the North and how good the North has been at confiscating our resources. It’s been part of our culture, our education and our headlines for so long that hearing about these threats is now routine.

I’m not saying this attitude is fine. Panicking every time something happens is not the best attitude to take, either. But being apathetic and unconcerned about it doesn’t seem cool anymore either at this point.

It really looks like a change is necessary. The North’s blows are getting harder each time. This change will have to be more than just an upgrade in national security. It will have to include an upgrade in the sense of citizenship in the minds and hearts of the South Korean population.


Woo Hyo-eun, student at Seoul Global High School
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