Exclusive – The brink of war: Life from Seoul, South Korea: Day 2
We usually focus our commentary and reports on the world of mixed martial arts, but with the current standoff between North and South Korea reaching a boiling point recently, MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman, currently stationed in the heart of Seoul, South Korea, reports with Day Two of her perspective on life with a country on the brink of war.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
Editors Note: This is Cassie’s thoughts, straight from the ground in Seoul, South Korea.
Day Two: Signs of War?
Today was the first day of military training in the Yellow Sea and as was expected, tensions were high according to the newspapers and information online. Some reports discussed how those living on Yeonpyeong Island had to retreat to a bunker for forty minutes and the military presence on the islands has been stepped up in case of another attack. It was also mentioned that North Korea has placed deployed surface-to-air missiles issuing warnings against the naval drills.
With all of tension building and with the protests that were shown yesterday, I took to the streets to look for signs in the public regarding the building of tension, protests, etc.
My adventure started at the perfect position for any protests – City Hall.
City Hall intersection in Seoul, South Korea. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
During the beef protests a couple of years ago, this area was engulfed with people protesting their rights. Today, there was nothing. Construction workers were going about their routine things, there was a typical “Changing of the Guard Festival” which catches the eye of tourists, but nothing that showed signs of war.
People watching the Changing of the Guard Festival. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Construction work at City Hall. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
I then took to a popular market place which is near the center of Seoul. Namsan Market is always busy with people trying to find a deal on whatever item they can imagine and today was no different. People were setting up Christmas displays for sale and everyone was going about their day.
Seoul’s Namsan Market’s little shops are set up the entire length of this alley. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Included in this area is the Namsan Tower, which is a huge tourist attraction with a rotating restaurant at the top, little shops near the top of the hill, etc. However, everything was still busy and no one seemed to be even a little worried about North Korea’s threats.
The Namsan Tower (in background). Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
A supply of Christmas decorations at Namsan Market. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Still no signs of war.
Myoungdong is another famous area in the city which is the center for shopping. All the top Korean and Western stores are located in this area, which ensures it always buzzing with people.
Seoul’s famous shopping district of Myoungdong. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
I expected to see fewer people, signs, protests – something – but it was business as usual. The subway stairs as busy as always, and the streets between shops were flooded with people eager to get to the next store. No one displaying any signs of or even thinking about war.
Myoungdong is the shopping center of Seoul with such stores and Forever 21 and H&M. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Another busy spot in the city is Seoul Station. People go here to transfer subway lines or to take the KTX (Korean Trains) to other parts of the country. It is always busy with both tourists and locals trying to get to their destinations as quickly and comfortably as possible. Surely, if there were going to be signs of war it would be here.
The area around Seoul Station. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Stairs leading from Seoul Station to the subway. Cassie Wiseman, Kenai Andrews MMA Crossfire.
Still, there was nothing.
The airport buses were still busy, people were still jam packed on the stairs leading to and from the station and there were still no protesters.
While there may have been protests yesterday after the funerals for the two marines, today has been just a normal day here in the city of Seoul.
Seoul, South Korea