Don’t Panic! (Ok, worry a little bit.)

Marmot’s Note: Welcome to all you clicking in from Instapundit and Pajamas Media.  This is the Marmot’s Hole, where it’s Korea 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Now to Mr. Bumgartner’s post…


Here’s a handy-dandy Guide To The End (Or Not):

While generally nothing should happen now that the DPRK has tested an A-bomb (hell, nothing else they’ve done over the years has changed anything) let’s take a brief look at what an expat in Korea should look forward to before they decide to freak out.

Keep tabs on the American media
For many expats (esp. those of us who don’t know the language) Korea can be kind of a cocoon. You never know what the outside world is thinking about what is going on here unless you seek it out. Therefore, the next few days you should probably avail yourself of the American media to see if there is The Great Freakout on the part of the American mass media. There might be a week of hand-wringing that will climax with the Sunday chat shows where a final decision will be imparted by The Powers That Be. Within a week, we should have a sense of where that’s headed. How many talking heads focus on the potential blackmarket value of an a-bomb? How many talk about how Iran and the DPRK might join forces to become a “true” Axis of Evil?

The UN
American President Bush has said he plans to head to the UN if, well, if the DPRK does exactly what it just did. Things could start to get a little hot in these parts if he is able to successfully get sanctions placed on the DPRK in the coming days. Pay close attention to the exact wording of any resolutions. Can the US take proactive steps to enforce the embargo? Does it tacitly allow for a navel blockade?

The US Military & CNN
Another thing to keep an eye on is the US military…or more exactly, how CNN starts to deal with such things. Ever since the first Gulf War, CNN has had a tendency to be the wink & nod of the US military. If suddenly there are lots of prime time specials about starving North Korean children and or torture chambers, then you know that the US government is at least brooding about some sort of military action. This will be doubly so if there are all kinds of odd military movements in the area that CNN mentions in passing in a very casual-yet-threatening way.

This is significantly more difficult for someone like me to give anyone any advice on ’cause I’ve only been here two years and I can’t speak the language. But…as all this happens…is there a more obvious security / military presence on the streets? Are there more military copters in the air randomly?

I would suggest that any type of random civil defense practice on the part of the ROK government would definitely be the first concrete sign that somewhere other than Korea might be a good bet (unless, of course, you want to be a stringer for a Western news agency.)

The only military thing I could maybe — just maybe — see happening is some sort of limited middle-of-the-night attack on some DPRK military installations. Then we all would have to collectively hold our breath. But, honestly, I just think we’re in store for a lot of nervousness…then the “new normal” of a ICBM / A-bomb DPRK.

Welcome to the future, bitches!


    Keep an eye on Jimmy Carter. Remember 1994.

  • Cat

    Thanks for the perspective. This is actually much more helpful information than anything I can glean from current reports from the MSM.

    Speaking of which, not to sound alarmist (but, hey, I am alarmed), how sure can we be there was indeed no radioactive leakage from the test? Just the KCNA say-so in the statement isn’t doing it for me. Would this be like a Chernobyl and we’ll have to wait for fallout detectors elsewhere to alert us to the presence of killer clouds.

  • Andy Jackson

    Nice piece, Shelton.

    If there is leakage, it would most likely drift to China, Russia or (if the winds are right) Japan.

    BTW, my spin on this for my relatives is; “the nuke does not change my situation any since I would most likely be killed by a chemical-tipped scud anyhow.”

  • Cat

    Thanks. I feel so much better now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Nobongpil

    As the powers to be (ahem, the US) will most likely try turn the screws on the North moving blindly toward the brink of war… would anyone care to share entertaining ideas for exit strategies now? Could be good for a laugh, eh.

    I’m taking the ‘for sale’ sign off my car and making sure it’s full.

  • montclaire

    Those who were here during Chernobyl will remember days of panic about whether it was safe even to leave home, due to fears that the radioactive cloud would pass over the peninsula. But Korean radioactivity is okay I guess.

  • Remort

    Has anyone else noticed that everyone in South Korea that wears any sort of military uniform is reporting for duty immediately?? This is NOT to freak anyone out, just an observation by someone living in Seoul.

    My own personal opinions about the North Korean nuclear test is simply one of positioning for bi-lateral talks with the U.S. This isn’t going to happen — ain’t no way, and ain’t no how. At best, the North Koreans are betting that with the Iraqi/Middle East situation, and with the problems in Venezuela and Cuba, we got a handful of problems to deal with now, and will draw the spotlight of their activities to “defend” themselves. If you’re old enough, or read history books, you may recall that the U.S. got both South Korea and Taiwan to abandon its nuclear programs. Hopefully, we can come to a similar conclusion with North Korea before things get out hand all together. I’d favor a long-term solution in the Asian realm with a regime change or better yet unification, rather than any sort of compromise on nuclear proliferation.

    BTW, thanks Truman for getting us into this mess.


  • Andy Jackson


    We leaned on our allies to drop their nuke programs, so the logical country to get to lean on NK is China. The Nork nuke test is more their failure than the US or South Korea’s.

    On the other hand, I would like to see unification as soon as possible. Frankly, I would love for the US to make that its official position (but I guess that would be stepping on too many toes).

  • Warren

    CNN as a reliable source?! The Communist News Network has as much support for the DPRK as they do animus towards the US military.

  • Hwarang

    Remort: “Has anyone else noticed that everyone in South Korea that wears any sort of military uniform is reporting for duty immediately??”

    I guess some combat arms units may on higher alerts until they receive instructions. At Yongsan, staffers were probably prepping to brief Pentagon officials when Washington DC wakes up to a nuclear North Korea and have to decide what to do. It’s when staffers and admin types start dragging their duffle bags and wearing their helmets that it’s probably time to get concerned.

    Nobongpil: “would anyone care to share entertaining ideas for exit strategies now?”

    I vote to begin exiting now, starting with a noncombatant evacuation of all dependents and non-essential personnel, including their household goods. That’ll freak out the North (who’ll suspect it is in preparation for an attack), the South, and maybe even China, and spur them into acting before the U.S. is forced to do something they consider drastic. Although it’d be expensive, it’s money the U.S. would have to eventually spend anyway. It’s a good interim response that can buy the U.S. some time to wait and see if SK and China actually respond this time. If the U.S. combines an evacuation with discussions of a naval blockade, I think China will get concerned enough to talk sternly to the North. All the U.S. needs to do is convince China that if they don’t reign in their naughty neighbor, they should prepare themselves for seeing U.S. military activity along the Yalu again.

    Bottom line is that the next 48 hours ought to be pretty interesting as we watch how DC initially responds, then how the South and China respond, and then what DC finally decides to do.

    But that’s just my two cents.


    I agree – this is a great time to fully exercise the NEO plan. It would cause some reactions and as stated above, may be cost effective in the future. One small problem is the 100,000 plus American citizens living off post (Children of Korean parents who fly to the US to deliver the child; for the American citizenship status) who are eligible to go to a safe haven. I wonder how we will evacuate these individuals?

  • Sperwer

    Hopefully, at the end of the line.

  • aaronm

    I live near a Korean air force base, no action at all today, which was odd as the F5s are usually in the air quite a bit. I’ll keep my eyes looking upward though. Interested to hear what others who live around such installations are observing. Oh, and BTW, I made a bit of a twat of myself in an earlier comment predicting the test wouldn’t happen. D’oh. I guess I made good on the maxim about opinions being like erseholes, since everyone has one.

  • Robert Koehler

    Was a nice post by Mr. Bumgartner. So good, in fact, that it just got Instapundited.

  • Mark

    Nobongpil wrote:

    …would anyone care to share entertaining ideas for exit strategies now?

    Nobongpil, the whole point of this test was to prevent our exit from Korea. If this goal is achieved, then South and North Korea will both be as giddy as Japanese schoolgirls.

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  • Hwarang

    Mark: “…the whole point of this test was to prevent our exit from Korea. If this goal is achieved, then South and North Korea will both be as giddy as Japanese schoolgirls.”

    Do you really believe that North Korea is “as giddy as a Japanese schoolgirl” with the U.S. presence in SK? Was that a typo or something? If not, you seem to have a different perspective that I’m honestly curious to hear.

    I personally find it hard to believe that the nuke test was NK’s way of saying “WE LOVE U USA.”

  • Corpy Carly

    With the Blogfather’s seal of approval, Shelton has finally managed his revenge on Kushibo et al. Congratulations man!

  • Wedge

    I’m up for a NEO. Could use a few days off carousing in Japan (or is it Guam?). What’s the daily beer ration for that?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Good points, Mr. Bumgartner. During the sub incidents of ten years ago, I watched several stories on CNN about how South Koreans were supposedly terrified by the turn of events. In fact, the only worried people I met were foreigners and male university students that were mostly upset because they might have to report to their reserve units to participate in the search for North Korean agents in the mountains. Most Koreans would just say, “Kim Jong il is crazy!” whenever I brought up the topic (same thing happened today when I brought up the nuclear test).

    In any case, to make their point clear, CNN kept showing the same group of Korean recruits trying to figure out how put on their NBCW suits. By the fifth time I saw the clip, I was so amused by it all that I began shouting at the TV “You still haven’t figured out how to put it on?”, and, finally, “You wimps, it will only itch for a minute!”.

  • pawikirogi

    Wait a minute, some of you want to leave? You mean you won’t stay and help defend when war is what you’ve been calling for all along? I thought all of you loved Korea. That’s what lawyer says. I suppose your cowardice is stronger than any ‘love’ you might have.

    Ain’t nothing funnier than seeing a he-man expat piss his points at the first sign of danger.

    Too funny.

    ‘ah, the expat, what would he do without Texas and ripple?’ pawi, the sage

  • pawikirogi

    Ain’t nothing funnier than seeing a he-man expat piss his pants at the first sign of danger.

  • virtual wonderer

    Heh, well, some people been living with this sh17 for 60 years. Some for only few. Although I wonder what possible logic this sentence holds:

    “the whole point of this test was to prevent our exit from Korea.”

    I suspect a real mayhem brewing if NK does a 2nd SUCCESSFUL test. Same bat channel, same bat time folks.

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  • Mark

    Hwarang said:

    Do you really believe that North Korea is โ€œas giddy as a Japanese schoolgirlโ€ with the U.S. presence in SK? Was that a typo or something? If not, you seem to have a different perspective that Iโ€™m honestly curious to hear.

    As long as the US is in Korea, the nation stays divided. North Korea’s elite stay in power, South Korea gets their Lexus’ and Louis Vuittons, and both are safe from Japan. Perpetuation of the armistice is a scheme of the Koreas, and this nuke is a reaction to the recent US rumblings about withdrawal.

    Hope this helps.

  • Nobongpil

    pawikirogi wrote:

    “ainโ€™t nothing funnier than seeing a he-man expat piss his pants at the first sign of danger.”

    It’s nice that you will be amused at the expatriate exodus when conflict appears imminent. It pleases me to know that while I’m at home eating pizza watching the carnage on tele you’ll be in fits of laughter while waiting to eat North Korean bombs/bullets. ๋ง›์žˆ๊ฒŒ๋“œ์‹ญ์‹œ์š”.

  • LeoStrauss

    shelton should have his mugshot next to the byline

  • railwaycharm

    pawikirogi wrote:

    ainโ€™t nothing funnier than seeing a he-man expat piss his pants at the first sign of danger.
    If us ex-pats did not bail your ass out 53 years ago you would be speaking Chinese right now.
    You are not suited to lick their boots.

  • railwaycharm

    If the balloon goes up and the artillery flies, Seoul will come undone like a cheap suit. Furthermore; if reunification happens because of a coup, South Korea will be dragged backwards to the point of economic ruin. Even Mr. (Flip Flop) Rho knows it.

  • railwaycharm

    Where the hell is Mel Gibbson when you need him?

  • kimchipig

    The media here in North America did spend most of the day on the NK test. Seems to be some doubt now if it was actually a success, whether it was all a hoax and a big pile of TNT or an actual nuke test of a small weapon.

    Bush had a strongly worded speech. We’ll see what happens from here.

  • Zonath

    Where the hell is Mel Gibbson when you need him?

    Are we talking Road Warrior Gibson, or Born-Again Race-Baiting Gibson?

  • pawikirogi

    boy, dda, i must have gotten you really pissed. you published my e mail address? how’d you get that? how about this, if i want to share my address with others, how bout you let me do that myself? think you can be grown up enough to do that…..boy?

  • jiwonsi

    Hiya pawikirogi found a girlfriend yet?…You know, if you haven’t yet, you can always rent one….