As the endless war of verbal aggression persists between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, heightened tensions are beginning to encroach upon the everyday lives of individuals. In fact, with the whole world bracing against North Korea’s recent torrent of nuclear threats, dispelling immediate fears of an attack seems to be out of the question. Extending past the boundaries of political concerns and entering the realm of daily affairs, an increasingly belligerent North Korea brings multiple consequences to both the lives of foreigners and locals in the Korean peninsula.
“North Korea’s recent threats definitely leave some of us concerned about the political situation,” said Emma Lee (10), MUN member. “However, a lot of the people in South Korea just disregard them, and many seem oblivious to the involved issues at hand. This can be problematic, as what we are seeing right now has the potential to transition into an intercontinental war–in fact, the effects of its danger can already be observed in society, taking forms as economic or social issues.”
The continuation of the North Korean threat has left perceptible marks on multiple matters—one of them being the Olympics. Though only four months remain until the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics open, ticket sales have been incredibly slow from both local and international audiences. According to Joongang Daily, of the 750,000 seats organizers aimed to sell domestically only 52,000 were purchased, falling at less than seven percent of the expected sales. International sales have not fared much better, with half of the 320,000 allocated tickets sold. Though Lee Hee-beom, president of the Pyeongchang Oganizing Committee, has stated that the North is highly unlikely to cause problems during the Games, the recent flurry of nuclear activity in the North has cast doubts on his statement. With Pyeongchang situated only about 80 kilometers south of the world’s most heavily armed border, fear of a potential nuclear war may keep foreign fans away from the Olympics.
“Despite North Korea’s recent threats, I am still looking forward to the Olympics,” said Patrick Young, English teacher. “Though many may be concerned about their potential interference with the Games, it seems highly unlikely that Kim Jong-un would choose to attack at such a time. Not only would doing so be unwise, but striking at an international event would not generate great publicity for North Korea.”
SIS has also been impacted as a result of North Korea’s actions. The Association in Music for International Schools (AMIS) festival, taking place through March 14-18, has undergone a location change, moving the event from Seoul Foreign School to Singapore American School. According to the AMIS panel, due to the escalation of rhetoric and tensions throughout the past months, an increasing number of schools had indicated that they would be unwilling to send students to Seoul. The relocation not only alters the festival’s entire schedule, but also entails higher expenses for Korean students going abroad, along with changes in dates to fit in the travelling days.
“Residents outside of Korea are more worried about the political problems in North Korea than the Koreans themselves,” said Christopher Shin (10), a participant of the 2017 AMIS festival. “It seems as though many parents from other countries are concerned about sending their children to a foreign country that could be close to war. Though many Koreans here seem nonchalant about the issues that are going on right now, it really poses the question of whether or not we should be worried about North Korea.”