North Korea has conducted eight missile launches this year. The latest was this week’s test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. But South Koreans, who have the most to lose from a conflict with North Korea, aren’t overly concerned.
Every North Korean missile launch can feel intense. North Korean missile footage often has a Hollywood flare, complete with multiple camera angles and even drone shots.
International media coverage can also convey a sense of crisis.
From the outside, it’s easy to look at the headlines, and assume South Koreans are probably very concerned. But talk to them, and you’ll probably hear a different story.
Yoo Ye-jin, is a Seoul resident. She said her first thought was: “well, they did it again.” The truth is, she says, South Koreans don’t care about North Korean launches.
Another Seoul resident, Song Tae-ho, said he feels as if he is immune to the news of North Korean missile tests. He just doesn’t see it as a big deal.
A lot of it may be alarm fatigue. North Korea has tested about 150 missiles since 1984.
Seoul-based analyst Choi Jin-bong says people are used to North’s tests.
“This is our life,” he said. “This is the situation between North and South Korea. We have tension between those two countries…South Korean people think that North Korea is not going to attack us. That’s our belief.”
It’s been decades since major hostilities. And more than 10 years since the most recent notable violence, when North Korea shelled a South Korean island and sunk a warship, killing 50.
But polls suggest young people, who didn’t experience the 1950s Korean War, don’t care as much about the North.
Journalist Kim Hye-in said scary reports about North Korea just aren’t as convincing these days. And many of the South Korean reports turn out to be inaccurate, anyway, she said.
Another reason for confidence is South Korea’s own military. South Korea is developing more of its own weapons, such as these fighter jets on display at a defense expo this week.
President Moon Jae-in, who arrived at the event in one of the new jets, says the state-of-the-art weapons should help South Korea feel secure that it can keep the peace.