UPDATE: North Korea has officially threatened military action against the South, claiming to no longer be bound by the 1953 truce: "The Korean Peninsula is bound to immediately return to a state of war from a legal point of view, and so our revolutionary armed forces will go over to corresponding military actions," North Korea said through its news agency."
Between swine flu and North Korean nukes, living in Seoul is going to kill me.
Even as the North continues to fire rockets, people here are relatively unconcerned. Koreans have lived with constant threats from Pyongyang for 50 years now. Until bombs start falling on Korean soil, no ons sees any reason to panic. So thank you all for your thoughtful notes and emails but seriously, no need to worry. I'm perfectly safe -- and just in case, the State Department has my contact info and will be happy to evacuate me from the country, for the minor price of a same-day plane ticket. Ah, bureaucracy.
If you're living in Korea (or another potentially volatile country -- I'm looking at you, Alia) and not registered, do it now. It just takes a minute and is the only way the US government will know you're in the country. If they don't know you're here, they can't help you.
What people are taking much more seriously here is the threat of swine flu. There have been a rise in cases among foreign English teachers, leading my school to take precautionary measures. Students have been canceling and some local schools are even temporarily closed for fear of swine flu (must admit, I wouldn't mind a few days of mandatory vacation!).
Among the new regulations:
- Have each teacher's temperature checked by the nurse every day.
- Installation of new hand sanitization machines and germicide soaps.
And, my personal favorite:
- Try not to go to crowded places where you could contract swine flu.
Um... we live in SEOUL, one of the largest cities in the world. There aren't any uncrowded places here. Even mountaintops are jammed with people and it's not unusual to encounter a backup as you wind up the trails.
So unless we all plan on sitting in our apartments until the whole thing blows over, that last piece of advice might be a little difficult to follow.
(I do have this nagging fear in the back of my mind that my allergies, which are KILLER this week, might present as swine flu symptoms to the school nurse and lead to my quarantine. The symptoms are virtually identical!)