Are we sitting ducks?Police officers have been guarding major media companies for some time now. The tightened security began after Pyongyang threatened to retaliate on media companies that criticized North Korea. Nevertheless, I nonchalantly pass the police officers and enter my building. I never think about why the police are guarding us or what I should do in this situation. My colleagues are similarly indifferent. We all mindlessly overlook the presence of the police.
Since last April, Pyongyang has continued to make impressive threats to strike Seoul and the Blue House and kick off a “special action” against government agencies and media companies. It claimed that the attack would be more serious than the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island. How many people take these threats seriously? None that I know. Maybe we have grown daring. Perhaps. Koreans are mostly interested in the news about mad cow disease, conflicts between political parties and the posturing and positioning of presidential hopefuls. Which is more likely, an outbreak of mad cow disease or an attack by North Korea?
Despite an arguably real threat, the tendency to treat security concerns as outdated is widespread. The confrontation between the South and the North has been ongoing for more than 60 years, and past administrations abused the security issue as a tool to maintain power. Perhaps guarding our country by ourselves isn’t really a part of the DNA of the Koreans.
The Joseon Dynasty neglected national defense after it was founded. It served China as its great patron. Joseon was a pacifistic kingdom, unlike the Three Kingdoms with its military spirit and the succeeding Goryeo Dynasty with its northward vision. The price of concentrating on literacy while neglecting the military was the Japanese invasion of 1592 and the Manchu invasion of 1636. Even during the war with Japan, Admiral Lee Sun-sin was imprisoned as he was trapped between factional disputes, and Joseon was annexed by Japan in the end.
After liberation from the Japanese rule, Korea continued to depend on other countries for defense. At first, Korea did not have the financial means to defend itself, and we continued to let the United States take charge until recently. So we may have a deep-rooted idea in our minds that someone else will take care of our defense. We may have all become bystanders when it comes to national defense,seeking our own individual interests and pleasures.