Expats in South Korea believe nuclear threat is smoke and mirrors

Published:  5 Sep at 6 PM
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As international tension caused by the war of words between Trump and Kim Jong Un escalates, expats in South Korea are still refusing to panic.

The vast majority of foreign residents in South Korea’s capital Seoul are staying calm as tensions between the North and the USA escalate, with most believing they’ve heard it all before. Most believe the chance of large scale military conflict is minimal, despite Trump’s rhetoric and Kim Jon Un’s replies. Even Sunday’s massive earthquake and aftershock, caused by a hydrogen bomb test, seems unable to shake their confidence that it’s all a game of words.

In the real world, Trump’s threats of fire and fury, his latest plan to cancel all trade with countries which do business with the North and his snipes at China for not using its power to reign in the rogue regime have ratcheted up international tensions to a high point. Brandon Knodel, a US expat studying in Seoul, told the media he’s more concerned about Trump than he is about threats from North Korea. Friends and families of expats in Seoul are sending worried messages to their loved ones, but life in the city seems to be going on as normal.

Knodel isn’t worried about his personal safety, believing it’s in the interests of both countries to keep the peace, adding his one concern is protection against radiation in the atmosphere reaching as far as the capital. One New Zealand expat who’s lived in Seoul for 11 years has similar concerns, and isn’t happy about the total lack of diplomacy being employed during the crisis. Trump’s responses to Kim’s challenges, he said, are hard to predict and erratic.

Seoul is home to a large number of migrant workers, with a spokesperson for the country’s largest migrant trade union saying newer arrivals are worried about a possible war, but those who’ve been in Seoul for longer are used to threats from the North. His main concern is that the facts of the situation might well be lost in translation between Korean and other languages, thus heightening workers’ fears about a nuclear conflagration.
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