The first week of school in KIS was widespread with panic and fear. The tensions between North Korea and South Korea had been built up to the point where war seemed to be the only answer.
Fortunately, and as we all may already be aware, war had not broken out, but there is more to be said about this topic than just the mere result.
On August 4th, the eight South Korean soldiers guarding the border near the city of Paju were struck by a land mine explosion. Due to this, two young soldiers lost their legs. Sergeant Kim, age 23, lost one of his legs, while Sergeant Ha, age 21, had both of his legs severed. While many citizens sympathized with the awful loss of the two soldiers, much speculations were made about the cause of the sudden landmine explosion. After a series of investigations, the South Korean government had officially reached a conclusion that the explosion was set by North Korean soldiers. In response, the South Korean government turned on the loudspeaker that has been lying on the border for future wars. The loudspeaker can be heard within 23 to 25km from its border. North Korea saw this loudspeaker as having a great threat potential because the suppressed North Korean citizens will be informed about the wealth and freedom the South offers to its citizens.
On August 11th, the United Nations has officially called for a meeting with the North Korea, insisting the North to apologize for the provocation it has caused. However, on the 13th of August, North Korea sent a public warning to the South Korean government, urging the South to turn off its loudspeaker. As South Korea showed no intentions of giving in to North Korea’s demand, the North launched several missiles to the Yeonpyeong Island a week later, posing a severe threat that the South turn off the loudspeaker within 48 hours.
Luckily, the North ended up offering a hand first by arranging a conference in Panmunjom, South Korea. There, the North “expressed regret over the recent mine explosion,” and in return for the apology, the South agreed to stop any announcements from the loudspeaker.
When all seemed to be settled, North Korea once again angered the citizens of South Korea with its dreadful statement. On September 2nd, in the North Korea’s National Defence Commission (NDC), the North had denied any involvement with the mine explosion and merely “expressed sympathy, not an apology.” Not wanting to trigger another series of conflicts, the South Korean government responded to this by saying that both sides should execute the agreement.
With the continuous threat and provocation by North Korea, the root of hatred between the two countries that were once a united nation, seems to deepen. Perhaps, it is time that we confront these issues instead of avoiding them as we have done so in the past.
Eunice Na (’17)