“Are you crazy!?” my friend looked at me, as though I had lost my mind, “haven’t you been watching the news!?”
“Of course I’ve been watching the news!” I said, rolling my eyes.
In truth, I had only been back to the USA for a few days, and have a general aversion to American news, as all the companies are run by corporations, and are therefore, driven more by ratings and views than reality. While in Europe, I kept up a bit with the news, chatting about European Foreign Policy, the rise of both German and Austrian politicians, and the possible eruption of Mount Agung. I skimmed over the articles about President Trump’s twitter feed on general principle. There is only so much I can take before I get annoyed and try to figure out exactly how I can extend my trip indefinitely.
Clearly, I should have been watching more American news because then I would know-
“We’re, like, about to go to war,” my other friend sipped his coffee carefully, “The guy over there has apparently been developing nukes, and all we talk about is Trump’s twitter feed and gun control. This whole thing with gun control is totally distracting us from the bigger picture. Ya know, that we are clearly about to enter some kind of conflict.”
“Well, I booked my ticket back in June, and when I called the airline, they said there are no other options and that it is perfectly safe,” I could feel my blood pressure rise a bit. I have no plan for a probable nuclear holocaust, “besides, if there is an issue, don’t you think they will target countries further than the 35 miles it is away?”
“Maybe you should cancel just a piece of your trip. It can’t be that safe. Besides, you won’t actually be comfortable, worrying and whatnot will you?”
I sip my coffee.
Two days later, I board the plane at Logan airport bound for Seoul. Twenty-two hours later, I arrive and notice a sign for quarantine and a line for those arriving from Madagascar. Apparently, the plague is there.
“Glad that one isn’t booked yet.” I mutter as I go through customs.
I grab my only bag (a carry-on) get through customs, grab 100000 won from the ATM (about $88.00 USD) and hop on a train. Upon arriving at the hostel, I notice that there is a code to get in. The man at the desk invites me to put my stuff down. The hostel has free coffee, wifi, and is right in the center of Seoul. It is about $15 USD a night, has free breakfast, and most importantly, free coffee. I am left with 70 won for the rest of the stay.
I fall asleep until around 930 pm, and determine that it is an ideal time to hunt some authentic Korean Food down.
I walk around the center of the city, looking around. I am by myself. No one cat calls me, even though I am the only white, blonde girl on the streets and am obviously foreign. When I go into the shops, people are nothing but kind, and ask me how I came to Korea, nodding graciously when I explain I arrived about three hours ago. Each one smiles and says, “hope to see you again soon!” There is not a moment that passes when I feel unsafe.
Finally I find some soup, and order take-away. It’s been about an hour and a half of walking after dark, near the center of Seoul, alone in a new country.
As I eat my soup, I google the probability of war between North and South Korea. Instead, I find an article describing South Korea’s attitude toward North Korea. Apparently, they are giving North Korea $8 million dollars in humanitarian aid for pregnant women and children, in spite of growing tensions. According to the article:
“Cho Myung-gyon, said the government had “consistently said we would pursue humanitarian aid for North Korea in consideration of the poor conditions there among children and pregnant women”.”
While the rest of the world looks at the government of North Korea, and feels threatened, South Korea, the closest geographically, looks on and sees the women and children who are missing out on nutrients. It sees the lack of any cohesive economic structure. It sees the misuse of resources. And, it wants to ensure that innocent lives- children specifically- are saved.
And, my fear of Nuclear war breaking out during my stay completely dissipates.