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South and North Korea in ‘State of War’

North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats against South Korea and its allies. The North's latest aggression, however, has been as intense as ever and tensions in East Asia region have escalated dangerously fast over the past few weeks.

After the North nullified the armistice with the South Korea in early March 2013, the U.S.-South Korea executed joint military drills as a show of force. On March 28, the U.S.’s B-2 stealth bombers flew over the Korean peninsula and North's leader Kim Jong-un, taking this as the last straw and ordered missiles on standby on March 29. The next day, Kim also announced that the North is in a “state of war” with South Korea and vowed to shut down the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas. On March 31, the United States sent F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea for another military drill.

Image of the U.S.-South Korea Annual Military Drill, Uploaded by Flickr user

Image of the U.S.-South Korea Annual Military Drill, Uploaded by Flickr user U.S. Army Korea (Historical Image Archive)

Even to South Koreans who have been overexposed to all kinds of hostile signals coming from the North, current developments were frightening indeed. And some net users tried to calm themselves by bringing up the old saying of ‘Barking Dog Never Bites’–which has become one of the most used metaphors in the Twitterverse and Blogsphere. However, how net users employed this clause, varied.

@idk209: 누군가 그러든데, 예전엔 한미가 대규모 훈련을 하면 북한도 맞대응 훈련을 했는데, 이젠 그것도 힘에 부치니 입으로 짖어대는 거라고.. 대게 맹렬하게 짖는 개들은 겁에 질려서 짖는 것이고, 그렇게 짖는 개가 무는 경우는 별로 없다…

@idk209: Some said the North, that usually responds to the US-South Korea joint military drills by having its own drills afterwards, is now in a situation that it lacks the stamina and tries instead to bark loud. Dogs, when frightened, bark murderously loud, but rarely bite.

@tobeto01: 북한의 전쟁 운운에 대하여..”짖는개는 물지 않는단”다. 하지만 그개가 미친개라면? 물리면 광견병 걸린다.

@tobeto01: Regarding North Korea’s war rhetoric, people say “Barking dog never bites”. But what if that dog is a crazy one? Victims will get rabies (referring to the following aftermath) when bitten by crazy one.

@nezerac: 안 짖는 개가 더 무섭다. 북한이 떠들면 떠들수록 개털이라는 말 하지만 우린 최악의 상황을 가정해서 대비를 해야 한다. 일일히 대꾸할 필요없다[...]

@nezerac: Of course seldom-barking dogs are more scary. And surely North Korea- the more they bark, the more they make fun of themselves by doing so. But still, we do need to prepare for the worst case scenario. But there is no need to respond every time to each of their barking.

But of course, there were some usual uninterested net users who have had so much disturbing news about North Korea that they grew numb to it. A tweet below shows how South Koreans take this news, comparing it to how Japanese citizens who are living in a country so prone to earthquakes, respond to news about earthquakes.

@kor_heinrich: 일본 : 강도 5도의 지진 발생 외신: 헐!! 야단났네! 일본국민 : 별거아님 자주있는 일임 한국: 북한, 서울 불바다 만들겠다! 외신 : 헐 야단났네! 한국국민: 별거아님 자주있는일임

@kor_heinrich: [Japan] When an earthquake of magnitude five points hits Japan, international Media says: Gasp! What a crisis!! Japanese citizen says: No biggie. That happens a lot more than you think. [South Korea] When North Korea claims it will turn Seoul into ‘sea of fire’, international Media says: Gasp! What a crisis!! Korean Citizen says: No biggie. That happens a lot more than you think.

When Gaesung Industrial complex, which provides the North access to $2 billion in trade a year, is closed, local reports predict it will affect livelihood of 300 thousand North Koreans [ko]. Some people discuss how different the crisis’ implications would be for North Korean power elite and ordinary North Korean citizens.

hssi84: 북한 지도층은 너무 권력의 물을 많이 먹어서 절대 권력을 놓치려 안할거란 사실이죠. 그런 사실로 봤을때는 망할 수도 있는 전쟁따위는 버릴겁니다. 권력은 쉽게 버릴수도 게임처럼 질러보기식으로 던질 수 없는거자나요

hssi84: North Korean leadership, who had too much of the sweet taste of power, will never let the power slip away. Those people are unlikely to risk a war which they will lose. Power is not just a random game they can merely try-out for fun nor something they can afford losing.

@ourholykorea: [...] 평화 시가 전쟁 시보다 나을 바가 없기 때문이다. 6.25때 죽은 사람보다 90년대 배급중단으로 굶어죽은 사람 숫자가 더 많았던 게 현실이다.

@ourholykorea: (for North Korean people) Peace situation is not better than war. It is cruel reality that more North Korean people died back in 90s when food distribution halted than those killed during the Korean War.

The tensions and conflicts have increased so far with no sign of alleviation, and some predictions claim Kim Jong-un may actually pull the trigger just not to lose face [ko]. More than a few net users voiced concern that responding to hostility with more hostility may not be a wise move, considering what South Korea could lose in case of a real war.

@toplkw: ”북한 도발시 1차 세계대전 수준 사상자 발생” http://www.viewsnnews.com/article/view.jsp?seq=98067 적대관계와 냉전적사고로가면 우리안보가 튼튼해지나 이 수구들아.

@toplkw: In the case of North Korea actually making (some military) provocations, the number of victims could amount to those of the World War 1: link to local article [ko] Listen, you conservatives: It is unlikely that responding to their hostility with another hostility (will ever solve the problem) and having cold-war mentality will not magically strengthen our national security.

@welovehani:미 스텔스 전투기가 한반도에 떠서 안전해지면 좋았겠지만. 북한의 반응은 정전협정 파기 선언. 도발은 북이 먼저 했기에 비난받아 마땅하지만. 도발에 똑같이 도발하는 대응 방식에 미국에서마저도 우려의 목소리가 나오고 있다.

@welovehani: It would have been good if the U.S.’s stealth flights which flew over the Korean peninsula worked in a way of protecting our security. However (after that) the North Korea decided to announce the end of the truce. I am not defending the North, actually I blame them for having started all these provocations in the first place. But even some people in the United States, have started voicing worries on how the U.S. handles this situation– responding to provocation with equal provocation.

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