Are we safe?

It’s a question that has been posed by parents and random blog readers alike. So I thought I’d address our current situation in a blog.

You might have seen in the news recently that North Korea has got some ants in their pants. They are constantly bickering back and forth with the South, especially since President Obama has taken office and ever since the new Korean president Lee Myung-bak said he was going to take a harder line approach to them last year.

The already-tumultuous relationship between the divorced country stomped on even more cracked egg shells last year when a South Korean tourist to North Korea stepped over the rigid tour boundaries and was shot and killed by a North Korean guard. The South blamed the North. The North blamed the South. Neither apologized. And all tours like that have since been discontinued as cross-border relationships deteriorated.

Most recently, North Korea informed the world of its schedule for a “satellite” launch sometime in early April. With that, the drawn-out antsy speculation over the North’s rocket plans is now increasingly becoming a matter of reality that only awaits countdown. Many countries believe that the North’s “rocket” launch is actually a test of its long-range missile technology.

As the North continues to flex its muscle, it also continues to be an extreme Stalinist state where the vast majority people live in poverty. They desperately need the help that South Korea offers through food rations and raw materials. If they were to even test a missile, they would be doing themselves a world of hurt. That said, it’s no secret that the North’s Stalinist leader Kim Jong-il is officially a crazy man. And who knows what’s going through his brain.

Long story short, we’re not too worried about North Korea. South Korea seems to dismiss their every rogue move with a roll of their eyes. Same, same. They seem to say. But, on the other hand, the military here last week performed what they said was annual training with the U.S. military.

So for the teacher who is thinking about coming here and wondering if you are safe, let me break it down this way. It’s safe. Freakishly safe most of the time. Crime-wise, this is no doubt one of the safest countries in the world. Yes, there is the constant threat of the North. But you are much, much more likely to be killed walking across the street (especially in Korea) than a long- or short-range missile attack from the North.

My advice is stay informed. Read the news. And look both ways before you cross a street. And most importantly, register with your country’s embassy to receive any alerts, news, or warnings.
To register, click on your country’s embassy website: