279 COMMENTS

Ok, so this is a rather serious TL;DR we’re talking about. No fun and jokes here. The question asked us to talk about the North Korea situation and what it’s like here in South Korea.

DISCLAIMER:
We’re not knowledgeable about the political situation here. We’re just talking about our experiences. If you want more technical/knowledgable info, this isn’t the place for it.
/DISCLAIMER:

Ok, so now that that’s out of the way, I’d like to go back to our point from the video about how often we hear these threats from North Korea, and about how – to people outside of Korea – the situation seems a lot worse than it actually is. We think this is mostly thanks to the Western Media’s habit of making things seem worse than they actually are, because big, scary headlines sell more newspapers and get more viewers.

The problem with the fear mongering is that, if you’re viewing the situation from the outside, it’s difficult to get an accurate look of what things are like on the inside. From what everyone’s been telling us, things are scary here in South Korea…from an outsider’s perspective. As a result, people are worried about coming to South Korea now. Thoughts like “Should I visit? What happens if the war starts!?” or “maybe I shouldn’t teach in Korea because North Korea’s gonna bust things up.” Thoughts like this totally suck for South Korea, because it’s not necessarily fair. And, really, if we had followed that advice when we first started our careers, our lives would be totally different now, and we wouldn’t have experienced so many awesome things from living in this country. Should our lives have been put on halt until North Korea stopped making so much racket? Should yours? North Korea has been annoying for a long time and probably will continue being annoying for a long time. Our lives can’t just be put on hold until North Korea gets their act together.

And what about people living in South Korea? Should their lives be put on hold as well? From an inside perspective of South Korea, things are no different than they normally are. People are still going to work. People are still going to play. People are still living their lives like they’ve always been. North Korean threats are things that we’re all used to by now. North Korea is just really freaking annoying; they’re like your noisy obnoxious neighbour that you have to learn to live with. You just wish they’d shut the f**k up once and for all and stop embarrassing you when you have friends or family over for dinner.

So, that’s basically it. North Korea is annoying. They make threats all the time. They love talking about destructive water. Should we worry about them? Well, if we want to count a threats-to-action conversion rate, North Korea’s not doing too well. Could they do something, though? That’s not even worth thinking about, in my opinion. Meteors could hit as well. I feel more of an immediate threat driving in taxis than I feel threatened from North Korea (because taxis here are craaaazy). When it comes to how we feel about North Korea, we’re not going to live in doom and gloom and fear because of what seems like a small possibility. We’re going to keep on living our lives, and it seems like the people of South Korea are doing the same as well.

ToFebruary
  1. Wow….I knew the media was hyping a little but I had no idea the media was hyping it up that much. I really thought the important stuff I was listening and looking at was mostly reliable. I mean I never believed world war three was coming or that he could even inflict a lot of damage on my country(U.S.) but I had no idea that Kim was just totally full of hot air, guess I am kind of gullible. Stupid lying media, I am not to worried about the south Korean citizens now but the soldiers that will die as a result of useless scrimmages on the border if Kim pulls some shit which apparently is unlikely. I feel really bad for the north Korean citizens. Oppression, starvation, public execution, DEATH CAMPS, they got it bad. Makes me feel even more grateful to be in the united states and makes me remember not to take things for granted.
    P.S. I never believed all the north Korean people were bad, if anything the majority of them are brainwashed victims. It is there government that is bad, not them. I have to say the soldiers are a gray area, some of them do horrible things but only because they have been totally brainwashed by the government. It really is not as simple as some people think.

  2. Jackie Outlaaw

    north korea has shitload of people starving and suffering from diseases and all they do is care about their leader, who resembles a berkshire pig, kim jong-un. i feel bad for the north korean soldiers too because they usually don’t get fed that well either. plus, you know about the ones who are in the marching band? since they have to raise their legs so high, their intestines are damaged from their legs hitting that area so much. if you ever watch 이제 만나러 갑니다 on channel A,
    you will get a better info on it.

  3. Thank god for this post!! Cause my school is holding an exchange program to S. Korea and now that N. Korea is threatening to nuke S. Korea, my parents are feeling apprehensive about it. Hope this convinces them to let me go!! :)

  4. Just want to let everyone know that, as a fact, governments will always keep things from people in their countries. It’s almost better to read foreing news because it doesn’t interest them, nor do they have a political interest, to hide things from people. What people have to understand is that not every tv reporter, news writer and presenter will try to “get more views” especially when it’s something that first: is not about your own country, second: is a serious matter. Turns out there are people that want to tell things as they are, ratings nonwithstanding (and in fewere cases, political interests nonwithstanding, though that’s even rarer). A clear example about clarity from foreing sourcers is my country Mexico. Everyone and their dog outside of Mexico thinks we are swarmed by mafia. If you ask someone if they would go to Mexico people will most likely tell you it’s really dangerous here. I’ve heard security measure taken by foreign governments to tell their people to not come here, “and if you go, be aware of what you are risking”

    Mexicans themselves will tell you it’s not that bad. The average Mexican lives by rutine, goes to work, struggles with the taxes. But it IS that bad. You just have to glance at the news. They find pit full of humans, tortured people hanging from bridges. Young adults addicted to cocaine. Big trucks and bigger houses in the middle of nowhere. Beheaded people lying in a pool of blood with messages carved on them. People in the dangerous zones twitting #shooting in____ to warn people not to go there. Indigenous people buying guns to defend themselves. All this is happening while I’m writing this, and I’m from here and I could very well tell you “it’s not bad. TV news will want to get more viewers”. Hell not even that, people just don’t bother to watch even the news. They are in a bubble of rutine.

    It’s just that the average people, from everywhere, doesn’t look beyond the things that surround them. I can wake up, see the kites flying and the birds chirping, and the world is stll moving, and I will be none the wiser if I don’t look (I won’t, my own cousins live on the province, and there have been two of three times where they write random “there was a shooting outside my school today” on FB).

    So tell me Simon and Martina, is it really not that bad? Or have you bothered to LOOK, really look?

    I for one, am an international affairs student, and like that commentor posts above mine, don’t fancy myself an expert or anything, but I do go to school to be instructed about all this, and I have to read and read and read on the matter. And I can tell you, it’s looking pretty serious. I vote for an update of this video! :D

  5. Stephanie

    The last half of this video: http://youtu.be/P_qMxq_ljg8 may be a little relevant to this TL;DR

  6. I think a better question would be what do south Korean think of the North Korean refugees living in the south?

  7. Well there was alot Tumblr & Facebook posts praying for South Korea. I mean, after I watched your video and read some articles about this whole situation, I have mixed feelings. I want to be worried about SK being attacked but I have to think the Koreans perspective on this… gosh media what are you trying to do to us? ><

  8. Most people anywhere doesn’t give a S*** about politics.Most people in US doesn’t give a S***,most people in Britan doesn’t give a S***,most people in France,Germany doesn’t give a S***.Even most people in communist countries during Cold War didn’t give a S***.So why to expect S.Korea to be different?

    About foreign media-Again all the same everywhere.Whether they report about N.Korea or US election,it’s just their presentation of reality.(Actually that’s what journalism of whatever kind inevitably is.Not only tabloids.)It was very enlightening to watch N.American media report about elections in my country.Great lesson.

    But it’s not only TV,newspapers,websites.It’s the same with “serious” historian publications.
    For example:Recently University of Yale published “definitive political history of Czechoslovakia.”Book with dozens and dozens facts wrong(facts,not talking opinions).Like some dates wrong by 2 days,some by year(like Molotov-Ribbentrop pact-How the hell can HISTORIAN specialised on Europe got THIS wrong???),some by centuries.And you know what?They use exclusively positive reviews on Yale web.And that’s freakin Yale!Respected worldwide.

    Great,great lesson learnt.

  9. capricello

    As a South Korean in South Korea, I feel like many SKs aren’t as concerned about North Korea as the rest of the world because deep down they still feel connected to them. I mean, the two countries are technically two parts of the same country, and there are people whose families were split up during the Korean War, and so some South Koreans may literally have connections across the border. And it’s like North Korea is the South’s crazy cousin; you know they’re pretty insane and capable of some big-time damage, but at the same time, you kind of feel bound to be on their side because they’re still family. I also imagine that given how Korea’s recent history of being invaded and pushed around has made Koreans on both sides fiercely protective of their country, South Koreans might even prefer being overrun by the North than a completely foreign country. It’s less humiliating, in a funny kind of way.

  10. Simon! I got your Wayne’s World Reference!! Very Nice ^^

  11. Thanks for this video. I’m heading to Seoul on vacation this week, and my family was worried about all the news they are hearing.

  12. I was just talking to one of my friends whose a marine about this a few days ago and with the new threats him and his platoon are getting shipped out to south korea again for the second time, but similar to you guys he’s not worried about it at all.
    He said he actually gets more worried about going to Japan then to S. Korea.

  13. I have a random question I have been thinking about for awhile, how long did it take you guys to get use to the time difference?
    Like day and night sort of thing?

  14. Thank you Simon and martina!!!! i told my parents i want to go to south korea for a foreign exchange program and heres what happened:
    me: so guys i figured out where i want ot go for foreign exchange!
    mom: where might that be?
    me: south korea!
    mom: YOU DONT WANT TO GO THERE! NORTH KOREAS GOING TO BOMB SOUTH KOREA!
    me: thats just what they say mom
    mom: trust me you dont want to go!!!!
    so thank you for spreading a little light on this subject :D

  15. Nuclear Sunshine

    Some of the latest news from outside BBC – “N Korea says US ‘behind hack attack” (I’m fascinated NK reports that we can do military drills and hack into an isolated nation’s internet! Certainly this multi-tasking will scare Jung-un!!) Times – “Possible North Korean Threat Triggers Beefed-Up US Missile Shield” (This is like a 50% increase in the existing missile shield. WOW! I’m waiting for China to cry again as they didn’t like the first missiles installed to shoot down warheads along the US coast.) The connection seems a race to decide who can feed their people with the most excessive military spending, for items only incredible stupidity would require the use of… Hold it…

  16. I’ll admit… I wanna study in South Korea for a year… my parents were freaking, I showed them this video and now they find it hilarious and are actually considering letting me go!! Thanks Simon and Martina!!!!

  17. I love you guys! <3 My husband is in the American Army and it really does seem like most people forget to think about what happens to military members if fighting does break out. Granted, my husband volunteered whereas military service is mandatory for South Korean men… It just makes those sailors' deaths seem that much worse when I think about it. What's the general attitude towards conscription over there, anyway?

  18. The N Korean army has mostly obsolete weapons. The reason for calm is that all males serve in the army and know that N Korea can’t really mount a successful conventional attack. All the saber rattling is really for domestic consumption. If they ever used their nukes, they would be taken out in a number of minutes so they aren’t going there.

  19. I am really glad you have done a post about this. My boyfriend and I are planning to come to Korea within the next 3 months. Here in Florida, NK is all over the news. I was getting worried we would not be able to get a position there. Please keep us up to date!

  20. “… Really the focus should have been on these soldiers that lost their lives.”

    So much respect for this. Amazing, thoughtful people putting a very realistic face on this. Thank you so much.

  21. Anyways, you mentioned the you might do a segment on Korean Dramas,

    What are some of your favorite K-Dramas and movies? Why?

    Also, what drama would you most like to guest star in?

    Please answer this, please!

  22. i know this is still kind of serious, but something I’m really curious about:
    Could you talk about sexism and gender roles in Korea?
    Has Martina experienced any sexism? Has Simon?
    Watching K-Dramas was really strange for me at first because I felt like the female characters were kind of subservient/submissive, and since then I’ve had difficulty introducing my friends to shows because of that. Are those portrayals true to real life in Korea, or are they exaggerated?

    Also, yalls are the best. And your staffs are adorable. :D

  23. I remember the first sea of fire. That threat was made right before we were moving to Seoul. Like my mother said this weekend, “it was nothing speciall that you noticed, except that we the US army would airlift the kids to nearest peaceful country if somthing were to happen” . Sure you were prepared just in case, but you didn’t think about it. For example; we always had planetickets in our safe and there were some plans how we were to act, but just because you have a fire extinguisher it doesn’t mean your afraid of a fire all the time….

  24. PunkyPrincess92
    PunkyPrincess92

    oh~ very informing!!! i like heraring from your point of view and what you actually experience around than what the media portrays!!
    urgh i absolutely get annoyed when people only think of idols who are in the army or just idols in SK when it comes to war!! they should feel sorry and be worried for everyone!!!

  25. Simon and Martina, I’m really disappointed in you; bashing on NK, actually on anything without some kind of research it’s not the way that a proffesor should act. Don’t you think NKoreans would also like to live peacefully? Provocations also come from SK (having military drill with Americans) and probably you’re not aware of this but a lot of people (not just NKoreans, I’m from Europe) believe that this whole situation is happening because of Americans. Even though this topic is too complicated, like any political topic, for a short video and a forum discussion thank you for posting it (it was an almost good video) :)
    On a brighter side I really enjoy watching your videos and interviews (whether you are the interviewer or the interviewee), and I’m eagerly waiting another video ;)

  26. CNN was reporting that North Korea had broken the Armicies Treaty. Over the perceived threat of the US and South Korean troops practing some drills. In the US the media is consantly reporting on North Korea’s and Iran acuiring nuclear capabilities. Politicians here also like to make larger issues for political gain. So between the media and the politician they keep people scared. My opinion we need to get rid of all nuclear weapons that exist. And the US has more of them then anyone. I don’t think war will ever happen unless North Korea has some natural resource the US wants to get their hands on

  27. Preach!
    I live in Israel and I can relate to everything you said in this video. The media really likes to blow things out of proportions

  28. The truth is, North Korea makes threats of war to scare its own people. At this point, no one takes them seriously, and they themselves know they aren’t being serious because they are acutely aware that they have zero chance of surviving an actual war.

    BUUUT, (cue the evil music) North Korean people don’t know this. So what they do is, North Korean regime constantly reminds their own citizens of enemies (US-led) planning imminent invasions, so therefore they must prepare for war. They must sacrifice in this time of national emergency. They must obey the orders so to fight off the enemy. No time to ponder about the sorry state of their country, war’s coming! We must all stand behind our dear leader to fend off our enemy and prevail!

    This is why North Korea must stir up trouble at least every few years. Because their people must be in a constant state of emergency so as to disallow them any opportunity to build up discontent (and to direct any built-up discontent toward the “enemy”). North Korean regime can never allow their people to have peace or prosperity, because they know their days will be numbered once people truly realize what have been happening to them. But I think and hope that North Korean people realize this farce sooner than later. Imminent invasion that never comes will eventually get people to stop believing their government’s threats.

  29. Thanks guise! From what articles I have been reading, the experts agree with you. I wish the media were more careful about how they report things.

  30. my aunt lives in Paju, few km away from the DMZ (she can literally see the DMZ on top of a hill, and every time she drives to work there’s a river on the right hand side that’s guarded by korean militery)
    and she doesn’t give a damn about north korea and their nuclear weapon.

  31. William Dyckman

    I was in Seoul in July 2006, when the North fired rockets over the Sea of Japan……Being American, I was eating breakfast while watching the news and freaking out……everyone else watched, but barely reacted…..right in line with what you said haha

  32. I personally the one thing that bugs me the most is how people wanting the north and south to become one whole country again. I am a political science major and my focus is international politics. *this is a little of topic* either way first i’ll say is i am not againist the north and the south becoming one. I am all for the country to become one however, think of this. South Korea as advanced like the rest of the world. Where as North Korea is still stuck in the 50’s. There is so much poverty in North Korea that if the countries became one tomorrow south korea wouldn’t be able to serve. you would see 10’s of thousands of North Korea’s flooding into Seoul and population would double if not triple with in about a weeks time and then there economey would crash.

    So this is actually what i believe and think needs to happen. If North Korea and South Korea sign a peace treaty both the korea’s need to stay as seperate countries. that sounds bad oh why would you want that will the reason being is if millions of people flood to the south then the North will be worth nothing and then the south will also end up going into an economcy down turn. But if you keep them seperate then what you can do is bring troops up from South Korea, United States, Canada to help build the economy. It will take lots of time labour and effort. and then when North Korea isn’t in Poverty that when they talk about becoming one country. Help the North be able to support themselves. I hope for reunifacation only when both countries can be at peace and properally support themselves and each other.

    • This… thank you for giving such a thougth-through answer! I’m just a high school student who has only done a couple of assignment on the topic, so I’m very far from an expert. But I’ve thought about tte conflict in kinda the same way. I just have a feeling that nothing much will happen for a while. I don’t think any of the countries would actually gain anything on going to war, it’d just be a bloody, horrible mess for everyone involved . And your theori (or how should I call it?) really makes sense to me, it seems like the only “good” way for the countries relationships to change would be to slowly get friendlier like during Kim Daejung’s politics. Then hopefully they could finally sign a peace treaty and have more exchanges and stuff, but as two countries, at least for the time being.
      Sorry for rambling about something I don’t know a lot about… :S

  33. Hi Simon and Martina! From all the TL;DRs that you have done, has there been any changes in the info that you have given, as in the info is now outdated? Can you please tell us what they are and how/what has changed? Thanks!

  34. Nuclear Sunshine

    We know they will do nothing as there is always a large gap in the logic of NK between statements and actions. Picking small military targets for instance understands war won’t start because SK would have a huge economic drop. The UN can sanction nearly everything, but China doesn’t full enforce much of it. SO, as long as NK doesn’t do more than small attacks on SK it’s all the same bully game. As the South Koreans commonly do, we can just sit back and listen to the bad fortune cookie propaganda hoping some small meaningless attack doesn’t occur. As the World we should be looking into the humanitarian conditions in North Korea and looking how to stop that more than technology advances over 60 years old.

  35. TL;DR HOW YOU GUISE STARTED TO LIKE K-POP? I dunno if you mentioned before soooo i hope you can answer this on next week tl:dr (again u.u sorry for my english)

  36. Some people on facebook are spreading rumors about a war that it already
    started, i hate that people cause they´re causing panic.Please stop
    spreading those rumors you are scaring, not just fans, but all the
    community.(Sorry for my english….again)

  37. I actually never heard about anything, due to the fact that I never watch TV and I am in a kind of bubble at college. However, my boyfriend (who is Korean) was telling me that he was worried over the situation and worried about his parents who live there. He has always had the ‘meh’ attitude about NK, and so when he told me I wondered if it was anything more serious…

    since he uses my computer to check the news Nate is now one of my top sites~ lol

  38. Well president park and ain’t havin their shit ~ That’s for sure. You know Iran provides weapon for North Korea. They have a good relationship. I say fockin bomb da shit out NK just like they did to Iraq many miles away with Battleship Cruise Missles. Just target Pyeong Yang and the Nuclear sites. Fuck Em~ I’m getting really tired of their threats. Someone needs to just smash them right in da fucking mouth~!

  39. Hey Simon and Martina. What are your interview days like? Like a behind the scenes sort of thing. Anything special you guys do to prepare for the interview or is it like any other day working at the studio?

  40. Sarah Ong

    Hi
    Simon + Martina,

    I know you guys have always wanted to talk about your antis and haters and I
    have always wanted to hear what you two have to say about them. Who are worse
    haters: Koreans or other countries? Netizens or people on the street? Have you
    ever received any death threats or really awful comments that made you super
    angry or sad enough to cry? Have there been any Korean people on the street who
    were mean because they recognized you? I really hope not, but if so, how do you
    guys deal with the situation? Personally, I’m surprised both of you haven’t
    hired a full-time bodyguard or something. I’m always so worried about your
    safety, especially because the things you do are so public.

    Stay safe,

    Sarah <3

    (PS- I've always been an avid Nasty— lurking since 2009; I found you guys while
    I was doing research on Korean culture. You guys were by far the most
    informative! Keep improving and doing what you love to do. I'll always be
    lurking:D)

    • Sarah, as big as Simon and Martina are in our lives, they aren’t household names by any stretch of the imagination here in Korea. I teach at a university in Seoul, and brought up Eatyourkimchi in class last week. My students didn’t know what I was talking about so I think I’ll introduce the site to them as a tool for talking about Korean culture in English class. Also in this week’s WANK, the people on the street simply walked passed them, not really noticing them, and this was near Ewha Women’s University – a very popular part of Seoul. Sure they get noticed from time to time (I’d personally love to run into them!) but I’m guessing most of the time they’re not recognized, and when they are, I’m sure most people (both Koreans and foreigners) are very friendly and positive.

      Actually, that’s a good question… Simon and Martina, what percentage of the times that you go out are you recognized on the streets? And when you are recognized, what percentage of the people are Korean and what percentage are foreign?

      Also South Korea is also a very safe country. Most foreigners say that they’ve never felt safer in their lives, and just so long as you don’t go looking for trouble, trouble will most likely never find you. I’ve only lived in the States, Japan and Korea and think Korea is very similar to Japan in terms of saftey, and both countries are much safter than Japan. There’s very low violent crime, and really, no reason to attack foreigners, even Youtube famous ones. Unless they reach Kpop star status I don’t think they will need a bodyguard, ever.

    • the have talked about the fact that they have haters and there thoughts on them. there have had interviews and brought stuff up in there TL;DR’s and etc

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