Living life on the edge: a trip to Seoul
It's no secret that tensions between North and South Korea are always simmering. But it is still a bit shocking to be confronted with the possibility that a potential disaster is right on your doorstep.
I recently took a week-long trip to Seoul in attempts to get meetings with some hard-to-corner bank executives. I had not visited South Korea since the Obama administration, so I had almost forgotten the threat posed by the North’s dictator.
But the reality of the situation came home to me one morning when I slipped out of bed to find a note under my room door, informing me that a "civil defence drill" would take place the next day. I was told that this was not a real situation and to carry on as though nothing was the matter. But really, how comforting is it to hear that the public sirens being tested are not warnings of a real attack?
As I was running around to meetings, I had forgotten about the drill until the following afternoon when I wandered into the hotel lobby.
Almost the second the hotel doors opened, the alarm sounded, triggering a minor panic in me. However, a quick glance around showed me that I was the only one to have such a reflex. Everyone else was going about their merry way, ignoring any worry that a nuclear missile might be fired at us at any moment.
I suppose keeping calm and carrying on is the only way to cope with life in Seoul. But I am glad I don't live in a city where I have to fear a sudden nuclear attack. At least in Hong Kong, I only have to fear being too far from the pub in case the protesters take over the streets.