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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Wasn’t it Hot Enough?

One might believe that since the South Korean artillery practice ended earlier this week without a full-scale assault by North Korea that the issue would be settled. At first, the north had loudly proclaimed that any attempt to fire on or near the disputed border would result in a ferocious counter attack. People here in the south waited nervously while the shelling was delayed a few times and then finally begun, but only after the north declared the shelling was “not worthy of a response.

It reminds me of my elementary school days in the playground when boys would puff themselves up and poke and bump each other furiously in the chest, working themselves up for a fight. Sometimes, it seemed like there was one scared to fight and the other was glad of it. Seems so, now, too.

North Korean apparently backed down from their bellicose threats of destruction. So now South Korea has to make sure of their not wanting to fight by provoking things even more. The artillery practice wasn’t enough, so a massive sea/air exercise is planned in and around the border area.

Last week I would have called North Korea on their brinksmanship. And I probably did. This week, it’s South Korea who earns the title and can’t seem to let well enough alone. It’s almost as if they want to provoke a fight when they want to fight it. If the drills weren’t enough, then perhaps the dreaded Christmas tree will fire things up. In some ways, escalating now makes sense. The North Koreans tend to be at their nastiest when things are calm here in the south. Catch ’em with their pants down, as it were. The South Koreans may be trying to get the inevitable started by a provocation while their armed forces are at their highest readiness. Perhaps it’s better to call them out now rather than later? Indeed, the Korea Herald even quoted Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin as saying

“The enemy always prefers to launch a surprise attack (rather than expected ones). “

An informal poll of a few Koreans has indicated a strong belief that North Korea will indeed retaliate, and do it in style. But they will wait until things have calmed down and the armed forces are not still poking each other in the chest. My poll revealed that Lunar New Year, when everyone is focussed on family, is a likely time for North Korea to get frisky.  My bet is that nothing will happen now but later, during the bigger holiday in February.

As for you, dear reader, you might do well to ensure you are properly registered with your government so that you’ll get the latest, official word should things get hot. Here’s a few of the foreign embassy/consulate registration pages for you.

Australia

Britain

Canada

Ireland

New Zealand

South Africa

USA

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