>Saemi H. is an English teacher in her twenties who has traveled outside of Korea and lives in Central Seoul. I sat down with her this past week to pick her brain about the her brethren to the North.
WorkingAndPracticing: What’s your earliest memory of North Korea (DPRK)?
Saemi H.: I was really young, I was just plain scared. I thought the North was a different world and they still wanted war. I remember images of soldiers marching in Pyongyang and especially the Mass Games being held in a big theatre.
WAP: Are you still scared the North will attack?
SH: No, not really, but I think us South Koreans have the lowest level of fear regarding the DPRK. We should be more aware because nowadays they have new weapons and I am especially scared about the West Sea where they continually test their weapons and cross over national boundaries.
WAP: Do you wish for reunification?
SH: Do I want reunification? Honestly, I haven’t thought a lot about it. I think it will take time, but in the end we must. We are all taught growing up that one day we will eventually reunite.
WAP: Are you in favour of the American Forces’ (USF) presence here on the Korean Peninsula?
SH: I have complex feelings about this. I don’t think that the ROK’s army is is strong enough on its own if something happens, but the USF have a very bad image in my mind. We know how they treat us Koreans and what they think about us. They are up there looking down on us. They create a lot of problems like pollution. After the USF leave a location they leave behind hazardous chemicals and our government has to spend thousands of dollars cleaning up the mess! Add to that problems of off-base sexual crimes and the USF seem to get off Scot-free. Rarely do any of their people face prosecution for crimes committed on Korean soil as they can just escape to the US. Despite all this, I think we still need them.
WAP: Are you in favour of Lee Myung Bak and his new hardline policy towards the DPRK?
SH: That’s a really hard question. The DPRK politicians are very clever and no matter what, they gain the upper hand in their dealings with us. Whatever we do it seems they are able to take advantage of it, but I think we still think we need to soften our approach and keep with the “Sunshine Policy.”