This is my brother-in-law, Namhoon, one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. He just got married to a nurse named Hira, who two years ago spotted him in the local university hospital taking care of his amiable shaman grandmother, and sent a note over to him via friendly intermediary, requesting that he call her. Now they’re married with a baby, and living in a small town within three hundred meters of the border with North Korea. Namhoon isn’t a draftee, but a career soldier and an officer in the ROK military; due to catching polio when he was a baby his father was never able to join the army, and so the fact that his son is there on the front lines has filled him with pride. Namhoon looks almost exactly like my wife, so when I’m making out with her I sometimes think that I’m also making out with him.
If a war begins, Namhoon and his family will almost certainly be killed. The latest round of UN sanctions passed against the North is unique from all the others in that China not only helped to draft them but also seems willing to enforce them. To my knowledge this is the first public rebuke issued by the Chinese against the North, and has effectively left the North Koreans without a single ally—unless one counts Laos, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Iran. These new sanctions have cut them off from every conceivable source of income. Luxury goods will be more difficult to import, North Korean ambassadors (often doubling as drug smugglers) will be subject to more scrutiny, and rare materials needed to produce nuclear weapons will be even harder to acquire than before. As I was telling my wife last night, these guys are finished. There’s nothing left for them to do. China has finally turned against them, and now they can either wait for their country to collapse or go out in a blaze of glory. In a nation whose immense propaganda apparatus has been exhorting frenzied kamikaze rhetoric for years, which do you think is more likely?
A Yeonpyeogndo– or Cheonan-style attack is coming, but this time the South Koreans will respond with everything they’ve got. The North will probably be destroyed before it can launch an invasion of the South, but if by some chance the North Korean army does start surging down the peninsula, what should we do?
My wife and I talked it over last night. Most people are probably going to head to Busan. It’s the only major city the North didn’t take in the last war, and its proximity to Japan increases the possibility of escaping abroad—though the North’s missiles are capable of reaching destinations as distant as Guam. But within days of an invasion Busan will probably be packed to the brim with millions of angry, desperate, and hungry South Koreans, many of whom sympathize with the North. Any ship that approaches its shores will be threatened by the North Korean midget submarines that sank the Cheonan, and any airplane will be full long before you manage to get aboard. In my opinion, Busan is a trap, and it’s not as safe as other places.
After wondering about where else we could go, I got to thinking about Geoje Island, which is connected to the mainland by a lengthy bridge that would be easy to defend and difficult to attack. There might be some possibility of catching a boat to Japan or Jeju Island once we got there. So that’s our plan. If the shit hits the fan, we’re going to Geoje. We’re not going to wait for the news to tell us that a serious conflict has started, and we’re not going to be running around in our apartment screaming at each other while the North Korean special forces make mincemeat out of the army of draftees that stands in their way: we’re going to get in our car and drive to Geojedo like motherfuckers. This conflict could happen any day now (or it could never happen at all), so one of the Sunday chores we need to perform involves buying a few spares tanks of gas and loading the back of our car up with big bottles of water. That’s it. When the bombs start flying, we grab our baby, grab our passports, grab our computers, cameras, and phones, and get the hell out. That’s our plan. What’s yours?