Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Civil Defense Drill

At 2pm on the 15th of every month, South Korea is supposed to conduct a "Civil Defense Drill". An announcement comes over the radio, and all work, school, transport, etc. must stop for 20 minutes and simulate what they would do in case of an attack by North Korea. Only, these drills never actually happen.

But today, December 15th, on the first Drill Day since the November 23rd shelling of the South Korean island, the country actually took the exercise seriously. When North Korea fired on this small border-water island a few weeks ago, it was said to be the most aggressive attack in decades, and the first assault on a civilian area since the end of the Korean war in 1953. We were told about the drill the day before, that we would have to bring all our students to the school gym at 2pm. You are supposed to seek an underground shelter, but our school doesn't have one, so the gym was the best we could do. For 20 minutes we listened to the voice on the radio, explaining this was only a drill, and what every one should be doing.

The students didn't seem to take it too seriously. Compared to the orderly fire and earthquake drills I had to do in school, this seemed pretty laid-back. But apparently nation-wide, it was the biggest drill since they began in the 1970's. For more details, here's an article from Yahoo News called "Korea Stages Mass Evacuation Drill Amid Tension". The average South Korean doesn't seem too worried that the North will attack, so I try to take my cue from them. But about an hour after the drill, when I heard the F-16's from the nearby Air Base flying overhead, I felt a little jumpy.

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