Thursday, November 25, 2010

Boat cruise and North Korea

Hi everyone, 

I'm quite busy lately since I will be leaving in less than a month. This exchange program went by very fast. Here's my update.

About two weeks ago I went on a boat cruise with a couple of classmates. The boat cruise went over the Han river that divides Seoul city in two and stopped at the Banpo bridge and then went back. It was nice to see the city by night and to enjoy ourselves at the boat. After the highlights, Alex from Sweden and I also went inside thinking there was going to be a magic show. But after half an hour we find out we were unfortunate to have missed it. 

I don't have much to say about the last 2 weeks since our overall work load is quite high. 

Some recent pictures of my life in South Korea:

I've signed myself up for a trip to the largest LG factory this Sunday. It's located in Paju, in the province of Gyeonggi-do. LG supports this program, which means it's free for us. :). We are going to listen to learn more about LG Display, going to have a tour throughout a factory and a exhibition center and going to visit Unification Observatory near the factory and exhibition. Finally we are going to visit a “colony of artists at Heyri” which is supposed to be well known for being a beautiful village with arts.

But you must have heard about this. North Korea has attacked an island of South Korea. Grace sent me a message while I was in class and it kind of scared me at the beginning, since she texted me that South Korea was attacked by North Korea and a village was burnt down. I've contacted the Dutch embassy right away just to be sure. They have sent me information of what to do when our safety is not sure and who our contact person is. The alert in South Korea was set on high, but there was no threat of an immediate war. North Korea does this quite often just to upset the South.

I can't believe our class was planning a trip to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), the border between the North and South. That's def. not going to happen!

Don't worry people, nothing is probably about to happen. South Korea is very used to these tensions. The international community is more worried about this than the average Korean. Hmm, maybe it has to do with the South Korean propaganda.
North Korea has fired artillery shells across its western maritime border, prompting return fire from South Korea, reports say. 

Some of the shells landed on a South Korean island, witnesses say.
A television station said some houses on the island were on fire, and Yonhap news agency said that four South Korean soldiers had been hurt.

South Korea has issued its highest non-wartime alert in response to the incident, the defence ministry said. The incident comes days after North Korea revealed it had a modern uranium enrichment plant.
Earlier, the US ruled out more denuclearisation talks while Pyongyang continued to work on the facility. 'Illegal firing'  South Korean officials said several rounds of artillery landed on Yeonpyeong island, near the disputed inter-Korean maritime border to the west of the Korean Peninsula.

"A North Korean artillery unit staged an illegal firing provocation at 1434 PM (0534 GMT) and South Korean troops fired back immediately in self-defence," a defence ministry spokesman told AFP.
A resident on the island told the agency that dozens of houses were damaged, while television pictures reportedly showed plumes of smoke rising above the island.

This western maritime border has been the scene of numerous clashes between the two Koreas in the past.

In March, a South Korean warship went down near the border with the loss of 46 lives.
International investigators say a North Korean torpedo sank the ship, although Pyongyang denies any role in the incident.

Since then relations between the two neighbours - who have not signed a peace treaty since the 1950-53 Korean War - have been very tense.

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