Though further conflict with the North has been averted with 40-plus-hour talks, altercations between North and South Korea are increasing in both aggression and frequency. Since the “axe murder” incident in 1976, the sinking of the Cheonan, and the bombardment of Yeonpyeong in 2010, North and South Korea have been engaging in brinkmanship for nearly 60 years. 0Though threats seemed to be predictably unpredictable in the past, recent events have heightened concerns regarding questions of safety and security.
While the South Korean government blasted propaganda into North Korea through loudspeakers near the DMZ, citizens of South Korea took matters into their own hands. According to Yonhap News Agency, nearly 2,145 citizens sought residence in refuge camps and other sheltered areas for fear of potential attacks from the North. Though space was limited and rooms cramped and uncomfortable, people were willing to sacrifice comfort for safety and security.
“Even though we are used to threats from North Korea, this time the aggression seemed real,” David Yoo (10) said. “The threats started to worry some people and I can see why. The tension between the two Koreas was palpable and now it seems as if no one can deny that danger seems to be imminent.”
According to Amy Valerio, middle and high school vice principal, SIS is prepared for various emergencies. In case of an emergency, the elementary school will evacuate to the auditorium, middle school to Tiger Gym 1, freshmen to the band room, and all other upperclassmen to Tiger Gym 2.
“[In the case of any emergency], the first priority at this school is for everyone to be as safe as possible,” Dr. Valerio said. “SIS has its own generator and gasoline for emergency use, as well as a supply of drinking water. We have an excellent way to reach out to parents through text message and email. As far as transportation goes, the bus system is ready to accommodate more people. The school has certain guidelines that can be implemented and adjusted depending on the circumstances presented.”
Despite the fact that the school practices fire drills multiple times per year, because there is not much information regarding safety protocol in the student handbook, it is unclear what actions students should take during potential crises on a national level. Some students, like Mimi Yoo (11), have voiced their concern regarding student awareness of safety protocols during emergencies.
“I have never really thought about [the dangers of a national emergency] because I never thought we were in any type of real danger,” Mimi said. “However, now that I think about it, I’m not really sure what to do if a national emergency does occur. Though I have only attended SIS for two complete years, I’ve never heard of any protocol that occurs if a national emergency does happen. It might be a good idea for the administration to educate students on what to do in case such an event does occur.”
Though a fragile peace between North and South Korea has been achieved through talks between the two nations, it remains unclear whether it will last, especially because the two countries have been in a perpetual state of war ever since the 1950’s.
“I’m not really terrified of the idea that there will be a national breach in security when I am at school because I know that I’m going to be safe,” Lauren Kim (10) said. “The teachers and other staff will keep us safe, and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to die while I’m at school even if there is danger. However, I do think that it would be beneficial to just review the protocol once or twice in order to let students know what to expect.”