Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Taste of Armageddon

ROK soldier takes part in a civil defense drill from six years ago

As I write this, there is a large booming voice coming over the loudspeaker in the school, yelling at the students to get down and find cover.  Emergency alarms and sirens are going off all over the city, and the booms of jet fighters flying overhead can be heard.

No, we're not under attack.

Today, at 2:00 pm local time, a civil emergency drill is being held, and tests of the civil response to an attack on Korea are being held across the country.  It is very fascinating to be living in an area where the possibility of an attack such as this actually exists.  It is a far cry from life in northern Alberta...

Here is a copy of the email I received from the Canadian Embassy this morning:

South Korea will hold a nationwide special civil emergency exercise today at 14:00 for 15 minutes. Sirens will sound, transport will be stopped and some people may be asked to take shelter in metro stations or basements. Aircraft may be heard overhead. There is no need to be alarmed. On 23 November, North Korea fired multiple rounds of artillery shells at the island of Yeonpyeong, killing 4 people and injuring several more. South Korea responded with its own artillery and has strengthened its military presence in the area. We advise against travel to Yeonpyong, or to the other North West Islands of Baengnyeong-do, Daecheong-do, Socheong-do and Woo-do. We assess that there is no substantially increased risk or danger to those living in or travelling to other areas of South Korea as a result of current tensions. Canadians should be vigilant, monitor ongoing developments, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Canadians are encouraged to maintain their level of readiness to cope with any emergency situation. It is recommended that:

you ensure that your travel documents, including your passport, are valid;
you have registered with the online Registry of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) and/or updated your registration with your latest information.

Those of you who have been following me on Facebook may know that on Thursday of last week, I lost my passport when I left my backpack on the subway.  Needless to say, the past few days have been very stressful and have involved filling out a police report, pleading my case with the Canadian Embassy, and beginning the lengthy process of acquiring a new passport.  One roadblock that I've encountered is the fact that I need my birth certificate in order to apply for a replacement passport, a document I neglected to bring with me to Korea.  As my parents are currently on vacation in South America until the end of December, I've been required to apply for a new birth certificate with the Government of Alberta.  They are currently processing my application, and will mail the certificate here when it is ready.

As I wrap this post up, the alarms continue to sound, and the voices over the intercom speak in clipped, panicked Korean.  I can definitely hear the jets flying overhead, and there is a palpable sense of excitement in the office.  Moreso now than at any other time in the last few days am I feeling apprehension at not having my passport with me.  I can only hope that I am able to acquire a new one before I'm scheduled to go home next month, or before the voices and sirens are no longer a drill.

Love you all, and with any luck, I'll see you next month back in Alberta!


Phil said...

A spy stole your passport. He's going to sneak into North Korea and trigger and international incident in your name. The Gunther Crisis of 2011 will be exciting, but ultimately a let down when the end result is you being sent to a Korean prison for 40 years.

Pam said...

Or twacked in the forehead really (and I mean really) hard.
Consider fingers crossed for speedy processing on the passport.

Kertrats said...

Phil, a let down would be putting that result mildly.

Pam, I officially volunteer myself for a forehead-twacking administered by you. I feel like I really deserve it for leaving my bag behind. Thanks for the good wishes for a speedy fix!

Anonymous said...

Take care and post an update when you get your passport, please. GF47

Anonymous said...

what I was looking for, thanks