North Korea
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By In Hawaii, Korea

Lessons from the Hawaii Missile Threat

“Since I moved to Seoul four years ago, I’ve grown used to the hysterical concern that my family and friends back in Hawaiʻi have expressed about my new neighbor to the North. The hysteria has only intensified post-Trump, with every fiery sound byte and furious tweet manifesting into another frantic phone call asking if I’m sure I don’t want to move home yet.

It was a strange sort of role reversal when I woke up on an otherwise regular Sunday morning to discover that, while I was asleep, an intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched, was inbound to Hawaiʻi, and it wasn’t a drill. No texts or voice messages were on my phone, and the worst-case scenario billowed in my mind like a mushroom cloud. A quick Internet search informed me, however, that the warning was a mistake. Gratefulness and relief washed over me. Harrowing stories of parents calling their kids to say goodbye slowly turned into memes poking fun at the whole situation. Everything was fine. Everyone was fine.

A latent restlessness lingered around my apartment, though; one that soon transformed into anger…”

 

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By In Korea, Olympics

How North Koreans View The Pyeongchang Olympics

“In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had a mixed bag of messages, for the North Korean people and the world. The speech, translated into English, ran more than 5000 words. The first three quarters of the speech were standard stuff: we have nukes, get over it and let’s continue to develop our economy. Then the tone shifted.

“This year is significant both for the North and the South, as in the North the people will greet the 70th founding anniversary of their Republic as a great, auspicious event, and in the South the Winter Olympic Games will take place,” Kim Jong-un said.

This is notable, not just in the context of the rest of the speech or the recent tensions on the Korean peninsula, but because this is a tremendous departure from how North Korea responded the last time South Korea hosted the Olympics 30 years ago…”

 

Read more at Vice Sports

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By In Korea

Seoul, From the Ground Up

“There are two different Seouls.

One of them exists in American headlines and imaginations. In that Seoul, half of South Korea’s 50 million people are living in constant terror. This Seoul is blanketed by Pyongyang’s nuclear shadow and Washington’s gaseous emissions, caught between a geopolitical rock and a hard place: the bratty obstinacy of a vain, power hungry madman, and Kim Jong-un. In this Seoul, South Koreans are paralyzed, able to do little more than cross their fingers and frightfully cling to the sanity of hope in an increasingly crazy world.

Then there’s the Seoul that actually exists in reality—the Seoul where the fire and fury on everyone’s minds is an oppressive, record-setting heat wave. Alongside unusually high levels of monsoons, the humidity has been brutal, leading to enough air conditioner usage to cause brief power outages. As a result, the big consumer trend of the summer has been handheld battery-powered fans.

In this Seoul, the Korean Baseball Organization is halfway into its regular season. Fans flock to the stadiums, clutching their handheld fans, spilling in and out of subways wearing their team’s jerseys. Smells of soju and beer and fried chicken waft through the subway stations.

The Seoul of actual reality obsesses over a slew of K-pop groups releasing new albums—called “comebacks”—and the most commonly discussed battle is whether Red Velvet’s “Red Flavor,” Exo’s “Koko Bop” or, more recently, Wanna One’s “Energetic” is the top summer single.

Life in Seoul isn’t just normal considering its proximity to North Korea; life in Seoul is normal, period. South Koreans work longer days and more hours than nearly anywhere else in the world, and with the fastest average Internet connection on the planet, it’s only natural that their off-hours are dedicated to the same technological distractions as Americans…”

 

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