Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.

5.29.09

Today my more advanced classes and I discussed the North Korea Threat. After reading an article fresh out of The Korea Herald entitled “North Korea says not bound to armistice”, referring to the semi-peace agreement between the North and South since the Korean war. The North has issued its latest declaration of war, storming down its path of provocation. As I explained in my last post, the feeling here is one of indifference and almost boredom with the North’s threats; laodicean one might say. My students echoed this, one after another. 

When I asked what should be done about the situation, particularly since the North has refused diplomatic talks with the U.S., the kids were almost overwhelmingly in favor of two things: (1) peace at all costs; and (2) not giving the North money. One astute student said “we should give them food but not money!” 

On another note, I had an interesting conversation with a friend tonight. She was particularly troubled about a recent episode of CSI, one of her favorite American television shows. It turns out the main character was a Korean woman who had contract HIV from her high-risk lifestyle as a hooker. The woman’s son also had the disease, and she had “sold” him to a pharmaceutical company to be used as a human lab rat. On top of all the insults this story line invokes, when the woman shows up dead in the morgue she has mysterious scars underneath her eyelids the mortician can’t quite figure out. It turns out they’re from the notorious “eyelid surgery” performed in the East – to make one’s eyes appear more Western, of course.

South Korea is an immensely conservative nation, and one that has developed rapidly and quite remarkably over the past twenty years following an economic boom in the 1980s. One that, I will point out, has an exceptionally low instance of HIV, and prides itself on preserving the innocence of a quality of life untainted by excess. My friend was sincerely insulted by the perceived stereotypes on this frivolous TV show. “I think Korea has a very low image in America,” she said. Which makes her honestly sad. 

I did my best to pick her up and explain the ignorance of people who aren’t exposed to international affairs… but I’m not sure how much good it did. The moral? Remember not to believe everything you see on television.

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