Across Eastern Asia, the prospect of war on the Korean Peninsula is a major topic of discussion. China has openly expressed concern that fighting could erupt at any moment, Japan is talking evacuations, and Russia has declared itself extremely concerned the US might unilaterally attack North Korea.
Yet South Korea, the nation which would undoubtedly suffer the worst from this war, is surprisingly calm. Retailers in Seoul said there was no sign of any panic buying, with all goods still in plentiful supply, and South Korean social media more heavily discussed a discount on makeup than the US-North Korea row.
North Korea expert Andrei Lankov said this was unsurprising, saying that “the farther one is from Korea, the more one experts there to be war.” For most young South Koreans, today was less about fear of war than about the tongue-in-cheek holiday “Black Day,” an answer for singles to the important couples’ holiday White Day, held a month earlier.
This reflects both that US-North Korea tensions soar every year in early spring, meaning that this is basically an annual occurrence for the locals, and also the reality that while South Korea would be a direct target in such a war, the decision to go to war appears to be virtually entirely up to the US and North Korean governments, which must give the South Koreans the sense of the situation being totally out of their control at any rate.