April 08, 2013 13:43
Most South Koreans are calmly going about their everyday lives despite increasing threats from North Korea.
On Sunday, over 30,000 people visited the Han River Park in Yeouido for a picnic. "Despite a considerable drop in temperature after Saturday's rain, picnickers kept coming in until late in the evening," a park administrator there said.
A 42-year-old housewife who visited the park with two children on Sunday afternoon said, "The North Korean threat is nothing new. I don't feel the need to be nervous all of a sudden."
Panic buying of necessities such as instant noodles and bottled water, which has sometimes happened after threats from North Korea in the past, is also at a minimum. Big supermarket chains E Mart and Lotte Mart did not see greater demand for such goods and they have no plans to increase stocks.
The real estate market was also steady. One estate agent in Yongsan, Seoul, said the company completed several transactions last week. "Potential buyers are more sensitive to the government's new housing policy rather than to news from North Korea," he said. "The barrage of news coverage of North Korean war threats does not deter demand for housing."
Online reactions were also mostly muted. One South Korean commented, "People abroad say South Koreans don't fear war, but if we did we'd have to be constantly afraid. North Korea won't go on war anyway."
Some worry that South Koreans have become desensitized. Kim Hee-sang of the Korea Institute for National Security Affairs said, "It was recently revealed that even schools do not know where to evacuate in the times of war, and that teachers are not aware of emergency procedures, which is the least that is required."
The overseas press are reduced to reporting the calm atmosphere after failing to find the panic they were expecting. Indeed, Americans appear more nervous than South Koreans since the North explicitly threatened the U.S.
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