Economic success has made the threat from North Korea incomprehensibleby David Bartram / April 18, 2013 / Leave a comment
Seoul’s tour operators still like to reel out Bill Clinton’s famous description of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides North from South as “the scariest place on earth.” It’s almost a badge of honour, a way of persuading intrepid visitors to part with 120,000 won (£70) and spend a day touring the 38th parallel.
It’s a clever marketing technique but one that usually feels inauthentic, a little piece of fabricated drama that tourists can joke about. But as North Korea continues to ratchet up tensions, there’s a sense this strange hybrid between tourist attraction and war zone might once again live up to its reputation.
Less than 40 miles away in Seoul, South Koreans continue with their daily lives, seemingly unconcerned about the threats from their noisy neighbours. Of course Seoulites don’t really have any options other than business as usual. But there is a sense the city is now a neon bubble, so removed from the grim reality of the North that Kim Jong-un’s threats, however genuine, have become incomprehensible.