Tuesday, March 14, 2006
(Note from Al: Chantal's posts were being saved as drafts for some reason, here's the last biggish one she made from last October.)
So while living here in the "Land of the Morning Calm" it can be pretty easy to get settled into your daily routine and forget the fact that you are indeed living in a foreign country.
You adapt to the smells, get used to the sounds and long for the foods.
You forget on most days that less than 20 years ago this was not a democratic country. You forget that you are living just South of the most heavily militarized border in the world. you forget (or choose to ignore) that technically there is the constant threat of attack from the North.
You forget on most days...except today.
There was a city-wide drill today of what to do in case of an attack from the North. That may not sound like much... but keep in mind that none of us foreigners had been forewarned.
So I am walking to work when the air raid siren goes off. All traffic was stopped. Military trucks with speakers attached are weaving in and out of the temporarily halted traffic blaring orders. Men in uniforms are in the streets yelling orders for us pedestrians to get into shelter (the woman in the Dunkin Donuts I walked into wasn't about to let me leave...)
NOW keep in mind I still don't know that this is only a drill....my mind is working a mile a minute...I know it's nothing big...there's no panic and the average civilian around me looks irritated. The army guy on the bench is having a smoke and I think an old man who was told to get inside told the street cop where to go...
It wasn't until I asked inside my "shelter" of the Dunkins what was happening that it was explained to me. Good thing they take the time to explain these things to us...I guess in the case of a nuclear fallout with the North Koreans that saving as many foreigners as possible is not on their list of priorities.
Well, I guess I should look on the bright side...had it been for real, I would have been inside the Dunkins at the time...going down with a coffee in my hand- there are worse things.