Friday, December 23, 2011

Dear Leader is Dead

So the headlines and blurbs haven't been too outrageous. I know that there's a chance that something drastic could happen, what with the death of North Korea's leader and all. There is a chance that the crazy country could, well, go crazy; that a young heir might try to prove himself to the world. But let's be honest: American media (and perhaps other media around the world) has a tendency to blow things a little out of proportion at times. And the result is that people are far more fearful than they should be. It's important to know what the people directly involved in the situation think about it. Which is what I'm going to share with you.

But first, let's just stop and think about this for a second. Yes, North Korea could very well be unpredictable and try and nuke us here in the South tomorrow. But wait. Kim Jong Eun, Kim's son who has been dubbed as "the Great Successor" just lost his daddy. His dad died. He is still human, and if he's anything like me (a fellow human), then he's probably in a state of grief right now, as I know I would be in that situation (and hey, maybe he's not at all like me, and if that turns out to be the case, then just disregard what I'm saying and assume I've no credibility whatsoever). He's only had a few years of training to take on this role, and I can imagine he's probably feeling immense pressure over having to jointly lead the most secretive, repressed country in the world. He's got a lot on his plate right now. I'm sure he's in a state of distress, but does that automatically translate to, "I'm sad that my dad just died, so I think I'm gonna attack!"? Absolutely not. We can't be too careful, of course, but I'm just saying...

I've also had some discussions with Korean friends and their takes on the recent events. They've spent their entire lives being a neighbor to the North, so it's safe to say they've spent a fair share of time thinking about the issues...

One of my Korean friends, who recently finished his military service (all Korean men must serve two years in the military) said on my Facebook, "[My guess is that] nothing's gonna happen. Because if North Korea fucks with us, then they have to fight with America as well, and China doesn't seem likely to help North Korea this time since they've changed their politics these days."

That seems to be the attitude shared by a lot of South Koreans, as others have told me the same, essentially -- that they don't foresee anything new happening. There's not any sort of panic occurring over here. Initially, the Korean military increased their security and weren't allowing any soldiers to leave. My friend told me her brother, who is serving right now, was supposed to come visit her around the time of Kim's death, but wasn't able to. The military put their guard down after about a week or two, however, and her brother could then leave.

To tell you the truth, everyone is simply going on with their daily lives. What else can you do? I honestly believe that if the U.S. and South Korea don't try anything against the North, then they won't make any moves against us, either. I asked some Korean friends what they thought about the news coverage shown of North Koreans bawling hysterically over the death of their "Dear Leader." They told me they felt as though it was an act. They said that they, of course, can't know for sure. But in North Korea, praising Kim and his father Kim Il Sung has always been necessary; a survival technique, really. North Koreans would be punished severely for failure to say or think any differently. I think many South Koreans agree that a large portion of North Koreans don't actually feel the way that they're portraying themselves to be...

Some people that I've talked to feel hopeful that this could be a time for change. And it's certainly possible. The flood of North Koreans would most definitely create a whole new set of problems for neighboring countries, but at least we could start helping them, the many who aren't receiving aid; our fellow inhabitants of this Earth who are suffering tremendously while we sit here with our comfortable lives... It's such a horrendously sad predicament.

On a lighter note, I asked a group of 6th graders at my school what they thought about Kim's death and one responded with this, roughly:
"I think Kim Jong Eun kill *cue axe motion* Kim Jong Il so he have power."
"I don't know. That's just what I think," he said innocently, his arms gesturing in a, "why not?" How funny.

My friend's younger students came running up to her and her co-teacher the other day. They asked if there was going to be a war. My friend's co-teacher told them that she didn't know. So then they asked, "If there's a war, does that mean there won't be school?"

"No, honey, there won't be school if there's a war."

Proclamations of "Asa!" then rang throughout the room. (It means "yay")  

Oh, innocent young minds and their priorities.... 

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