South Korea teacher says she ‘feels safe’ in country

Allison McNealEditor
South Korea teacher says she ‘feels safe’ in country

Despite rising tensions between North and South Korea, those living in South Korea, like former Adel resident Morgan Owen, say they aren’t panicking.

“I have taken a few precautions, like carrying my passport with me, and I am registered with the United States Embassy so I will receive updates on travel warnings for U.S. citizens in South Korea,” said Owen, who is an English teacher in South Korea. “The only time I think about the North is when someone from home asks if I am safe or scared or worried. When the Koreans around me start to worry, I will too. Until, like them, I cannot let the rhetoric from the North control my life.”

Many of those who live in South Korea say they are used to living with threats from the North since the Korean War, Owen added.

“When I ask my Korean friends about the threats from North Korea their responses are all similar,” she said. “One friend, who is currently a university student, explained that South Koreans cannot live their lives in fear of the North. If they worried about every statement that the North put out, they would go crazy and their lives would be dictated by fear. The new uproar in rhetoric and international news coverage is nothing new to them.”

Although South Koreans are used to tense situation, Morgan’s father, Paul Owen, was not.

“With everything that was going on in the news one of my main concerns was for my daughter,” he said. “However, when I visited her in April, nobody seemed worried.”

However, some of Owen’s students seem to be skeptical about the situation and if reunification between the North and South would ever happen.

“The students were worried about getting rid of the guns in North Korea and them being violent if reunification were to happen,” she said. “I found that very interesting… Economically, the South would take a huge hit because the North is so underdeveloped and poor in comparison. I read a middle school student’s paper about the North and South uniting, and he was in favor of it because he wants peace.”

Even though the atmosphere is much different than living in the U.S., Owen said living in Korea has been a great learning experience.

“Some things are frustrating, like constantly being crowded and pushed in public, even in the smaller towns, the high price of fresh produce, serious lack of international food, and the very conservative social views, but the positives outweigh the negatives,” she said.

Her students are one of those positive aspects.

“Like teaching at home, or anywhere in the world for that matter, the kids are what makes it fun and worthwhile, and that is no different for South Korea,” she said. “The kids here are incredible. Despite that they are under extremely high pressure to do well in school and be ‘successful’…they are sweet, fun and excited to be in English class. They are the best part of my job.”