Seoul Searcher

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Living with Crazy Neighbors

South Koreans were attacked by their fellow Koreans in the North so often and almost routinely that they seem to have become insensitive and immune to the continuing aggression from the North.

Maybe, we in the South are such a nice and tolerant people who love our cousins in the North so much that we forgive them generously, instead of reacting to their attacks with corresponding intensity, every time they perpetrate their fratricidal crime against us.

Or maybe we are really scared stiff of the North Koreans who are threatening to reduced us and our country to ashes with their nuclear bombs and other terrible weapons of mass destruction.

Although we don’t admit publicly but deep down, we all realize that our armed forces are no match to their counterparts in the North and therefore could not defend our country by ourselves alone. We are such a meek and gutless people, in other words, that we could not muster a measure of courage to stand up against the crazy and despicable tyrant and his loyal followers in Pyongyang and teach them an unforgettable lesson that we, unlike their own cowed and trembling people, would not put up with their cruel and inhuman behavior.

Whatever the reason, we have shown an amazing, almost infinite, degree of patience and stoic tolerance toward the North Koreans who have attacked our nation and killed hundreds of innocent people since the War ended in truce in 1953.

As the North Korean launched their attacks with impunity, even with contempt, South Koreans, for their part, have developed the pattern of their meek reaction, which seems to have become routine as well.

In the latest attack, the North Koreans shelled a South Korean island in the West Sea, just south of the Northern Limit Line, killing two marines and two civilians and injuring 18 on Nov. 23.

Pundits and scholars in South Korea, the United States and other Western countries tried, as usual, to figure out why Kim Jong-il and his lackeys were behaving the way they did. But there cannot be any clear and rational explanation because these are acts of irrational people.

It is easy to believe that the North Korean leaders are a bunch of crazed men and women; what I don’t understand is, there are equally crazy people amid us in the South, who are blindly following the cruel dictator in Pyongyang. These are leftist politicians, unionists, radical teachers and students who are sympathetic to and supportive of Kim Jong-il and his regime.

I wouldn’t go so far as to describe them as “enemies within,” but they represent, without doubt, a dangerous element in our society which could play a dangerous and extremely damaging role, if another all-out war breaks out in Korea.

After a North Korean submarine was found to have fired a torpedo and sank a South Korean naval vessel, killing 46 sailors last March, Pyongyang denied the responsibility for the attack, despite the findings of an international investigation. That was not all. Resorting to its favoring game of turning the table on the victims, it outrageously claimed that the sinking was the work of the South Korean government.

These North Korean claims were parroted by the afore-mentioned people in the South who follow the Dear Leader blindly with what appears to be unswerving loyalty.

But who in their right mind with a modicum of intelligence would believe that the administration of their elected president is such a rotten, inhuman government that it could think of, let alone carry out, such a horrible crime against its own people?

In the wake of the latest attack, these people and others as well as China, North Korea’s only ally, are urging the rest of the world, as usual, to talk to the North Koreans to defuse the tension and negotiate a peaceful resolutions of “Korean problems.”

But haven’t we had enough talks in the past half a century? What had we gotten out of those talks? What have we achieved in our talks with those crazy people except to let them make a number of nuclear bombs and continue their attacks against the South?

Talking with insane people to work out a sensible solution is a senseless thing to do. It is an exercise in futility at best.

There is a saying in Korea that the best and only way to treat a mad dog is a good thrashing with a stick. Those insane people in the North need a good beating. For they, like mad dogs, fear and understand only the brutal and merciless force.

To be sure, we may have to pay a considerable price, including the loss of lives, in order to put an end to this senseless life-and-death game that North Korea is forcing us to play. But we must act, sooner rather than later, if we are to keep our hard-earned freedom and advancing economy.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Something I Couldn't Erase From My Memory

My mother, who had been suffering from a serious heart disease for several years, tried to kill herself by cutting her own throat with a knife when I was 13.

A few days before the incident, my father had taken her to a Christian missionary hospital on the outskirts of Seoul, where she was diagnosed with a defective heart valve, but she was told to go home because the doctors there couldn’t do anything for her. It was too late to treat her, they said.

Realizing that it was pointless to keep suffering, she had apparently decided to end her own life. Father found her in the bedroom just in time to wrest the knife from her hand and call a doctor. Even though she was awfully weak and frail already and despite a heavy loss of blood, she somehow survived thanks to quick emergency treatment.

I was at school all morning that day without knowing what had happened; when I came home in the afternoon, she was sleeping under sedation. I saw a trace of blood that had seeped out and stained the white gauze that was wrapped around her neck.

Watching her pale, emaciated face, I was too stunned to feel—much less, think of—anything. I just sat on the floor where Mother lay on a thin mattress. Mother was so still I thought she was either asleep or dead.

After a while, I realized that though she was extremely weak, she was conscious of her surroundings. I even detected a trace of what looked like a faint smile on her face.

“What is it, Mother?” I asked her. “Is there anything you want?”
“I have messed thing up, haven’t I?” she said. “But don’t be frightened; you are a big boy now.”

Her voice was barely audible; I had to lean forward to listen to what she was saying. “After I die,” she went on, “you will have a new and healthy mother who will take a good care of you.”

“What are you saying,” I mumbled but I couldn’t go on and tell her to stop talking nonsense.

It was then that I realized I resented Mother for what she had done not only to herself, but, more importantly, to me.

The train of thought that ran through my young mind went something like this: there I was, her only son, whom she said she loved despite her long illness and suffering, and yet, she was ready to go away and “abandon” me. It was very selfish of her, I thought, to leave her loved one behind and “try to go away alone.”

The realization of that fact was pretty unsettling as I felt that her attempt to kill herself was a kind of betrayal. But it soon dawned on me that I was the selfish one for thinking only of myself while I’d cared very little about how much Mother must have suffered to have wanted to end it all with her own hand.

She died a week later. Father, who always insisted that I should never miss a day at school, told me to stay home that day. He must have had some kind of premonition.

I stayed at Mother’s bedside all morning but in the afternoon, a friend dropped in to find out why I had skipped school. While the friend and I were in another room, talking about a book we had both read recently, Mother was left alone and death must have come then.

It was Father who discovered her and called me and other members of the family into the room. By then, it was too late.

The funeral rite was held at a Buddhist temple on the western outskirts of Seoul. Mother was neither a Buddhist nor a Christian. But she had believed in the supernatural. In other words, she was superstitious.

I do not know who decided to hold her funeral at the Buddhist temple three days after her death. It must have been customary at that time for most Koreans to cremate the dead after holding the funeral at a temple. And we must have just followed the custom, although no member of our family was Buddhist.

The temple was about 500 meters up a hill behind the crematorium.
Before we left for the temple, they placed the wooden casket on a trolley in front of one of the four furnaces. A crematory worker told us we could stay there a while and watch the casket going into the furnace. I wanted to stay. I felt I had to see Mother for the last time before she would be reduced to ashes.

Even at that age, I could see that it would be one of the most painful moments in the funeral processes: while mourners stood around, the crematory worker would open the thick glassy door for us to see the fire roaring inside the cylindrical chamber into which mother in the casket would be pushed by the worker. If you are the “chief mourner” of the deceased you are supposed to watch the process, he said.

But as it was too painful, especially for such a young chief mourner, like myself, the worker explained we could leave the job for them. And my father said we had better go to the temple right away to attend the funeral rite.
The rite at the temple was a drawn-out affair.

A faded black-and-white photo of Mother, which must have been taken years before when she was relatively healthy, was placed on the altar. She looked like a stranger to me perhaps because I had not known such a healthy looking mother in all my life.

A monk recited a long, unintelligible scripture while we kneeled on the floor and bowed to a huge, gleaming bronze statue of Buddha, and stood up just to repeat the process again and again. At the end of the prayer service, the monk explained to me: “Now, the soul of your mother can leave this world because of the infinite mercy of Buddha.”

After the rite, we were led to a dinning hall where rows of dishes of steamed rice and vegetarian foods were laid out. My sisters, uncles and aunts and other members of our family ate hungrily. When I thought about it, we had not had a substantial meal for three straight days and they must have been starving. Watching them wolfing the food down, I, too, felt ravenous, and yet, my mouth was extremely dry, and I felt I could not swallow anything even if I tried.

I sneaked out of the dining room and crossed the front yard of the temple to the edge of the cliff from where I could watch the crematorium. A wisp of smoke was coming out of its chimney and disappeared into the air even though there was hardly any wind in the dull, early spring weather.

The chimney was extremely tall. Then, I remembered hearing that it wasn’t tall at first, but the crematorium was forced to raise its height after the people in nearby villages complained of the smell of burning flesh almost every day.

Vaguely, I wondered how many dead bodies were cremated there. Hundreds? Thousands?

Then suddenly I realized that I was trying to force myself to think of something that had nothing to do with my mother, who, at that very moment, was being reduced to a handful of ashes and smoke that was emitting from the chimney and disappearing into the thin air.

I wondered whether my mother felt the heat in there—the suffocating and insufferable heat—had she been able, perchance, to feel as we, the living, do. Of course, there was no way of knowing whether the soul of dead persons could feel anything. And yet I could not help wondering about it.

Until then, I have never thought of what might be “the best way to go” after death. Which would be better? Burned to ashes or buried deep in the cold, dark, damp ground? Actually, when they told me that Mother was going to be cremated, I thought it wasn’t such a bad idea. But then, when I thought of the heat, that awful heat she had to suffer, I felt a cold shiver running down my spine.

When we returned to the crematorium, they had already pulled the trolley out of the furnace and a heap of ashes with some fragmentary white bones scattered among them were ready for us to pick up. I was given a pair of big wooden sticks to pick the bones and deposit them into a ceramic urn along with some ashes.

I could still feel the heat that emanated from the remains. In addition, perhaps because of the awfully hot atmosphere of the hall, I felt beads of sweat running down my face.

“Let’s hurry up,” my father, standing behind me, said to no one in particular. “We have to catch the last bus from the station in the village and we haven’t got much time.”

After depositing most of the ashes into the urn, we left the crematorium for the village. As mother’s only son, I was asked to carry the urn in a cloth contraption that hung from my neck while I held it with both my hands. As we walked down a narrow, winding road in a single file, I was surprised to find how light the entire remains of my mother were. I also felt the warmth of Mother’s ashes through the ceramic urn that I was holding against my chest.

Then suddenly and for the first time since Mother had died, tears started welling up in my eyes, blurring my vision, in spite of myself. Right after Mother died, I had told myself not to show tears in front of others if I could help it.

To this day, I do not know why I made such a resolution. Anyway, all of a sudden, tears started flowing, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I handed the urn to my father, told everybody to go ahead and leave me alone for a while. I then sat down on the side of the road and, after making sure nobody was watching me, I wept with abandon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blaming General MacArthur

In an opinion poll, conducted recently to mark the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, more than 30 percent of young people in South Korea said they believed that Gen. Douglas MacArthur, the commander of the United Nations forces during the war, was responsible for blocking the Korean people’s effort to reunify their country.

From the point of view of most older South Koreans who experienced the war, the opinion of the young people, came as a complete shock, I am sure.

Admittedly, the young people were born long after 1950 and therefore had no experience of that awful war, launched by the North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung to communize the South. They have also grown up in a free and affluent society, which their grandparents and parents worked hard to build up in the 1960s and 70s from the rubble of war. Moreover, they were educated by teachers, many of who are leftists, who have apparently tried their best to brainwash their students with their pro-Communist and pro-North Korean view of the war.

In any case, the young South Koreans apparently believe that MacArthur foiled the “attempt by Koreans to unify their country,” when he launched the tactical maneuver in which the U.S. and South Korean forces landed at Inchon from the West (Yellow) Sea on September 15, 1950 and attacked the occupying North Korean force, recapturing the capital city of Seoul within a few days.

The surprise attack also cut off the North Koreans’ supply line, completely isolating the Communist forces in the South. Within about ten days, the North Koreans had either surrendered or beat a hasty retreat, crossing the 38th parallel that had originally separated from the South from the North.

The U.N. forces then marched north, all the way to the Yalu River that separated the Korean Peninsula from China, nearly succeeding in unifying the country.

But then, the Red Chinese forces, hundreds of thousands of them, crossed the border and surged into North Korea to fight the U.N. forces alongside the North Koreans. They eventually pushed the United Nations forces near to the original dividing line of the 38th parallel before the two sides came to an armistice agreement in 1953.

So, if MacArthur’s Inchon landing frustrated reunification efforts, as those young South Koreans believe, the Chinese Red Amy that invaded Korea, should also be viewed as responsible for blocking the Korean people’s effort to unify their country.

I wonder why those young people so conveniently forget this fact and unfairly shift the blame for the division of their country only on General MacArthur.

It’s incredible as well as deeply saddening to realize that those young South Koreans are blaming the American commander and the United States for blocking the reunification of their country instead of expressing appreciation to MacArthur and being grateful to the United States for helping their country remain free and build up its democratic system and economy.

Would they rather live in a country that is one huge gulag for all practical intents and purposes, starving or living in utter inhuman conditions under the cruel and merciless dictatorship of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il? The answer, of course, is clear; no one who wasn’t forced to would want to live in constant fear and complete darkness like that.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Beware of Liars on the Internet

Koreans on the whole are so emotional and gullible that they believe all kinds of dubious allegations, heresies and even downright lies concocted by netizens and spread through the Internet for fun or with malicious intent.

Without ascertaining their truth, Koreans tend to take action, turning the false allegations into social or political issues that sometimes shake the very foundation of the republic.

We all know that on a personal level, a lot of harm is being done to well-known public figures by the nasty twitterers and Internet bloggers and surfers. It has become easy for everyone to use such Internet sites as Google, YouTube and Facebook to attack others, often under the protection of anonymity.

The problem becomes more serious when unscrupulous political activists abuse the Internet to incite social unrest by planting misinformation or rumors. In most advanced societies, the people are not so easily duped into believing information they read on the Internet, until it is substantiated by facts. But the opposite is true in South Korea; for, it is a society where the people are, as I said, highly gullible and excitable.

The situation is exacerbated by the people’s political mindsets.

The country, which is barely as big as the state of Indiana, is politically divided by regions, which have hated each other like irreconcilable brothers for centuries. One group is ostracized and marginalized by the other whenever political power changes hands.

The group, currently in power, comes from the conservative region or the southeastern part of the country while the others—in the opposition now—are mostly left-leaning people from the southwest. Also, as in many other countries, the younger generation tends to be liberal whereas the elderly are conservative.

These, of course, are not fast and clear-cut rules but they are generally true.

Those from the southwestern region, plus a majority of young people, are generally leftists, sympathetic to—if not downright supporters of—the pseudo-Communist regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il while the conservatives are pro-American and anti-North Korean regime.

It is against this demographic and political background that the game of intrigue and propaganda has been played out through the use of the Internet.

Thus, a group of anti-American leftists alleged on the Internet a couple of years ago that the beef imported from the United States was tainted with mad-cow disease, fomenting fear and hysteria among the general populace.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Seoul and other major cities almost daily to demonstrate against the government for months. However, the allegations were eventually proven false. And yet, not many of those who were known to have spread the groundless allegations were forced to take responsibility for their action.

Then, a South Korean navy vessel exploded and sank in the East (Yellow) Sea nearly three months ago. A painstaking and detailed investigation by South Korean authorities, aided by foreign experts, has established that it was a North Korean submarine that torpedoed and sank the ship.

As usual, the North Koreans denied the charge and the leftists in South Korea parroted Pyongyang, claiming that it must have been the South Koreans themselves who sank their own navy ship. There were even allegations, made on the Internet, that a U.S. submarine was somehow responsible for the sinking.

But who, in their right mind, would sink a navy ship of their own or that of a close ally, unless they were crazy like the leaders in Pyongyang?

Anyway, in the latest episode, Guus Hiddink, former head coach of the South Korean national football (soccer) team, who successfully piloted his team to the semifinals of the 2002 World Cup held in South Korea and Japan, was quoted as sharply criticizing the South Korean team currently competing in the World Cup in South Africa in the wake of its 1-4 defeat at the hands of the Argentine side.

Korean newspapers prominently played Hiddink’s criticism under big headlines. And readers were puzzled by the kind of remarks that would not have come from the smart and suave coach. Indeed, it turned out that the whole story was fabricated by a netizen and run on an Internet site as though Hiddink made the remarks in an interview with a Dutch publication.

Needless to say, what this netizen has done is inexcusable. He should be hunted down and made to pay the price for his stupid and pointless prank.

But what is more deplorable, shameful, really, is the irresponsible Korean newspapers that lifted the false story out of the Internet site and without checking its truthfulness, published it on their front pages.

True, we are all victims of the sensationalism and untrustworthy tidbits of information that are masquerading as legitimate news reports these days. We also know that the electronic media, whether we like them or not, are playing an increasingly important role in our society. That is precisely why we must be wary of its harmful effects as well.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Loser In the Game of Chicken

When I was reading news reports on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s return to Pyongyang from his visit to China early last month, a faded image of a small Korean boy resurfaced in my memory out of half a century of oblivion.

The boy was one of my classmates at the elementary school in a remote village in South Korea nearly 70 years ago.

The North Korean dictator somehow reminded me of the obnoxious little kid who was disliked and avoided like a leech by everyone in our class. He was not unusually big or strong but managed to bully everyone because he had a big brother who was four years older than us.

His family, I remember, was extremely poor and yet he always was in possession of a pocketful of candies and marbles that he had “confiscated” from us. He even forced us to give up our lunch boxes so that he didn’t have to skip a meal. Luckily for us, his family moved out of our village a couple of years later, and the memory of that awful boy soon faded away.

As we all know, Kim Jong-il visited China shortly after a South Korean navy ship was attacked and sank in the West (Yellow) Sea. A month-long, meticulous investigation by South Koreans aided by a team of foreign experts established—based on undeniable and watertight evidence—that the North Koreans had perpetrated the crime.

Outraged and angry at the latest in North Korea’s unending series of terrorist acts against them, South Koreans vowed to retaliate. President Lee Myung-bak’s government declared it would force the impoverished but belligerent North to pay a price for the unprovoked attack.

South Korea and its ally, the United States, also announced that they would hold a joint naval exercise as part of demonstrations to show their determination to confront possible further provocation from the North. In addition, Seoul moved to have the United Nations condemn North Korea for the attack and tighten its existing economic sanctions against Pyongyang as punishment.

The North Koreans, as usual, resorted to their well-worn tactics, claiming that it was South Korea itself that had “staged” the incident and sank its own navy ship. It even threatened to launch an all-out war against the South if Seoul tries to retaliate against them.

Although Kim Jong-il and his running dogs in Pyongyang barked loudly, they must have been scared nonetheless over a possible military action by the South against them. For, Kim dragged his ailing body to Beijing apparently to seek Chinese reassurance that they would continue to stand by their North Korean puppets no matter what happens.

In the ensuing game of chicken between the North and South, it is Seoul, it seems, that has blinked and let Kim Jong-il get away with murders once again. South Korea and the United States postponed their announced naval exercise indefinitely while the United Nations has not taken any action against North Korea as of early June.
The Seoul government even issued a statement saying it would refrain from taking any step that could provoke North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did visit Beijing but was unable, obviously, to exert any effective influence over the Chinese leadership. Judging by the action—or rather, inaction—of Beijing, China’s role of big brother for the North seems to be unchanged, if not strengthened.

Thus, like the obnoxious kid that my classmates and I had to put up with in our elementary school days, that cruel and insufferable dictator Kim Jong-il, riding piggyback on his big brother, will keep terrorizing and murdering South Koreans with impunity as China continues to expand and wield its power and influence over its neighbors.

Kim Jong-il knows, no doubt, that right now, the United States can’t do anything much for South Korea not only because it has its hands full with two wars—in Iraq and Afghanistan—but also because it is suffering serious financial difficulties that include an enormous debt to China. It has been reported that Beijing has dragged its feet on the U.S. request for Chinese efforts to help maintain peace in the Korean Peninsula.

One only hopes that the overconfident Kim Jong-il will not take any more rash and miscalculated action against the South that could easily trigger another all-out war that would surely reduce the two Koreas to one huge heap of rubble.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Living With Ants (II)

The other day, I played god with a couple of tiny ants, members a species that is smaller than a grain of rice. Hundreds of thousands of them have invaded our house and have been living with us for years. That is why I wasn’t very upset when I saw them crawling around the edges of the bathtub when I was taking my morning bath.

I decided to get rid of them but not immediately. I wanted to see how strong their instinct for survival was. I realized that I was being cruel. But my desire to observe their behavior in the face of imminent death was stronger.

First, I built a puddle of water around them with warm bath water scooped up with the palms of my hand in order to see them struggle to get out of their watery confine and escape. Apparently, though, they are not good swimmers.

Despite their desperate efforts, they could not wriggle through water. But they never gave up; they ran around tirelessly in search of a possible exit for more than five minutes.

I found out that in the world of ants, there are also individual differences. One ant was obviously stronger physically than the other. It continued to scurry around while the other one gradually slowed down, eventually stopped running altogether and lay there as still as though it was dead.

Then, I witnessed an amazing scene. The stronger one approached the weaker one and in what appeared to me to be a gesture of nudging, pushed its head against the body of the exhausted fellow ant. Of course, I had no way of knowing whether ants actually communicate with each other and, if they do, how.

Anyway, to my great surprise, the one that I thought was dead, started moving again. And pretty soon, it began running again, not with its companion, but separately.

Meanwhile, the bathwater was getting less and less warm as I forgot to replenish it with hot water as I usually do. I was too preoccupied with my observation of the ants’ behavior.

Then, a disaster befell on the physically stronger ant. While it was frantically trying to find a route for escape, it run over the slippery edge and fell into the tube. And for a few moments, I thought it had no chance of surviving in the larger body of water, however tepid the water had become.

But lo and behold! It not only survived the fall but was vigorously moving in the soapy bathwater. Impressed by the tenacity of such a small creature and taking pity on it, I fished it out in my palm and returned it to his former “watery prison.”

Some may say that I was being needlessly cruel, but I had become extremely impatient with all the ants that had been bothering us everywhere in our house day and night. And I have killed them mercilessly whenever I spotted them. The couple of ants I ran into in the bathroom could not be an exemption. I contemplated what could be the best way to send them to their death. The answer was hot water. I knew the water didn’t have to be scalding hot.

I turned on the hot water, cupped some of it in my hands and sprinkled it on the two ants, which were reduced to a couple of dark specks instantly.

Coming out of the bathroom, I did not feel sorry for them. But somehow, I didn’t feel any vengeful elation either. Nevertheless, as I was drying myself, I turned on my CD player, knowing that the music it would play would be Mozart’s Requiem.

Monday, May 10, 2010

How Long Should We Wait?

I have said this before but I’ll repeat it here again because I’m upset with God, yes, God. He has not been keeping his promise to us. He said vengeance is His and He will repay. But He has not kept his promise with regard to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean dictator.

(Before I go any further, I must apologize to my friends for writing so much about North Korea which is, I’m sure, one of the most distressing and uninteresting topics to think about. In the absence of any other serious events, however, one is forced more or less to discuss whatever it is that is developing in that part of the world).

Not counting his dad’s crime of killing more than 2 million people half a century ago, Kim Jong-il has been killing hundreds of innocent South Koreans, not to mention millions of his own people in the North, for decades. And yet, God has not punished him. I wonder what is holding Him up. Don’t they say that justice delayed is justice denied?

Sure, God moves in mysterious ways as they say. So, He has his own way of working on vengeance. But today, the murderous North Korean leader is not only alive and kicking but also continuing to play god himself, killing people at will and getting away with the murders.

That’s not all. Due, no doubt, to years of debauchery and decadence, he is reportedly suffering from kidney disease and has had a stroke and yet, he has “miraculously” recovered from them. Instead of doing soul searching and repenting his crimes, he still seems to be enjoying torturing and killing people.

In the latest adventure, he is strongly suspected of ordering his navy to blow up and sink a South Korean patrol ship in South Korean territorial waters in the West (Yellow) Sea nearly two months ago. Some 46 South Korean sailors perished in the unprovoked attack.

Fearing retribution from the South, he is said to have visited China in order, as some press reports speculate, to discuss ways to counter possible action from the South with Chinese leaders, his big brothers and protectors.

It is true that everything that the North Korean dictator does should necessarily be veiled in secrecy. So, some said he visited China in order to beg for more food aid for his starving nation while others were still naïve enough to hope that he was trying to discuss with the Chinese the possibility of returning to the Six-Party Talks on the denuclearization of his country. (When will they learn to regard Kim Jong-il and his followers simply as a bunch of gangsters whom they should never trust?)

From my perspective, I would say that he visited China to beg for more financial and food assistance in exchange for the right to use the strategic port of Chungjin in northeastern North Korea. There have been reports that China was trying to extend its power and influence all over Asia including the East Sea (which is known in some quarters as the Sea of Japan).

Or, maybe Kim Jong-il wants to invite Chinese tourists to visit the scenic Kumgangsan (Diamond Mountains) resort, which his regime has recently seized from the South. South Korea’s industrial group, Hyundai, and some others had built the resort in the North at the cost of tens of billions of won, but Kim Jong-il and his henchmen recently arbitrarily seized control of its operation.

Whatever the reason for his visit to China, one thing is sure: he is up to no good for the majority of his countrymen and women, not to mention, the entire Korean people. Yet, no one, indeed, no country in the rest of the world, seems to be able to do anything about him. That precisely is why, I, for one, am impatient while waiting—interminably—for God to mete out his punishment to Kim Jong-il if only to prevent him from killing any more innocent people. After all, he is one of the greatest sinners in the later half of the 20th century and beyond and there should not be any more delay in bringing him to face divine judgment for his crimes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

North Korea, Once Again

The North Koreans are apparently in a state of euphoria these days (perhaps, extreme hunger brought on an hallucinatory state?) as they celebrate the 98th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the late founder of their Stalinist country and father of the current dictator, Kim Jong-il.

While an untold number of its people were dying of hunger and malnutrition, the impoverished country spent 5.4 million dollars to import 60 tons of fireworks and lit up the usually dark skies over its electricity-starved capital, Pyongyang, in celebration on the eve of Kim Il-sung’s birthday, April 15.

It was also reported to have bought some 200 expensive foreign cars in order, no doubt, to present them to the military brass and Kim Jong-il’s lackeys in the party and government who keep Kim’s cruel regime going.

According to the latest information reaching South Korea from the North, which is, for all intent and purposes, one huge gulag, North Koreans were also elated by the news that one of South Korea’s navy ships had exploded and sank in the West Sea, just south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), or the maritime border separating the North and South.

The South Korean navy ship, patrolling the area, sank more than a month ago, killing 44 sailors and marines. And South Korea, with the help of experts from the U.S. and other foreign countries, has been investigating the cause of the incident.

Pyongyang’s official press ridiculed the South by saying that South Korea which many North Koreans thought was scientifically advanced, has turned out to be an inept nation, unable to figure out what happened to one of its own navy ships.

However, as mounting evidence began to point to an external attack, possibly (who else?) from North Korea, Pyongyang pulled out its time-honored and well-known trick of blaming its adversaries. Even al-Qaeda claims responsibility whenever its members launch terrorist attacks. But not the North Koreans.

Whenever they have been caught red handed in the wake of so many terrorist attacks, they have invariably turned the tables on Seoul, claiming that it was the South Korean themselves who committed the heinous acts against their own people.

Thus, after launching the fratricidal Korean War (1950-53) in order to communize the South, they claimed that it was the South that started the conflict that killed more than two million people. After they bombed the Martyr’s Mausoleum in Burma in October 1981, killing 18 ranking South Korean government officials; and after they blew up the Korean Air plane over Burma in December 1987, killing 115 innocent South Koreans, they insisted that the bombings were the work of South Koreans themselves, even though North Korean agents were subsequently caught and confessed.

But who, in their right mind, would believe such an absurd claim? Yet, North Korean leaders have continued to play this kind of childish game whenever they were cornered with clear and glaring evidence against them.

And this time, I am sure, won’t be an exception. The North Korean leaders were said to have already launched a propaganda barrage saying that the sinking of the navy ship was of the South’s own doing. They probably think that the rest of the world is as crazy as themselves and as gullible as their cowed and frightened people.

The North Koreans are obviously counting on the fact that Seoul won’t be able to do anything much against them even if it finds out for sure that the attack was perpetrated by the North. They must know that the South as well as the United States will not be able to take even limited, punitive action against them as it could very well escalate into a full-scale conflict.

Besides, they seem to believe that they are an invincible nation that can put up a fight against any country in the world. Why, they are now a military power with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction!

Indeed, there are very limited military options that the South can take even if it is convinced that 44 of its young men were the victims of a cowardly and unprovoked attack.

All South Korea can do is to strengthen military preparedness against further attacks while re-educating and heightening the morale of the officers and men and women of its armed forces for future attacks which the North now seems to launch with impunity.

Let’s face it, the South Korean military has been lax since all its members were born long after the Korean War and grew up in the 1980s and 90s when their country was governed by leftist presidents—Kim Dae-jung and Roh Mu-hyun—who had taken a pro-North Korean policy of appeasing Kim Jong-il’s regime in Pyongyang.

Many of the South Korean young people were taught by so-called “progressive” teachers, politicians and civic leaders to regard North Koreans as their brothers and sisters first, not as enemies who are out to destroy South Korea. As a result, there was a time when a majority of university students said in an opinion poll that they would fight side by side with the North Korean army against the United States if war were to break out between the United States and North Korea.

There also was a false sense of superiority among the South Korean populace that somehow their country is stronger militarily and otherwise than the North, perhaps because they had been used to reading the reports that South Korea has far outstripped the North economically.
But we must all realize that in addition to its nuclear bombs, North Korea is possibly stronger than the South militarily and South Korea could easily sustain a crippling, if not decisive, blow if North Korea’s one-million strong armed forces decide to launch an all-out attack as they did in 1950.

In this respect, I hope that the latest naval skirmish will be a wakeup call for all the democracy loving South Koreans.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Unending Conflict

My heart went out to the families of the South Korean sailors and marines who lost their young lives when a naval patrol ship exploded and sank in the West Sea near North Korea last Friday.

While offering deeply felt condolences, however, many of us could not help wondering what has caused the South Korean military as well as the Seoul government to take such a long time to find out what triggered the explosion. More than three days after the incident, no one seemed to know whether the ship was hit and, if so, by what, much less by whom.

What’s more curious was the hast with which government authorities cast doubt on the possibility of “a North Korean involvement.” But one could not help asking if they did not know what exactly caused the explosion, how could they say North Koreans could not have done it?

Then, the Munhwa Broadcasting Company (MBC) somehow seemed to have conclusive evidence that North Koreans were not involved in the incident. The MBC-TV is the television station that is being run by our old anti-American leftist friends who, if you remember, concocted and spread lies against the imports of American beef allegedly tainted by mad-cow disease. And for some reason, foreign news media in Seoul quoted the MBC report and sent out their initial dispatches to the rest of the world saying it was not a North Korean attack.

Our memories are still vivid about the last naval clash between the South and North that occurred on November 10, 2009 in the same West Sea. A North Korean warship intruded into the southern territorial waters, crossing the so-called NLL (Northern Limit Line) or the maritime border separating the two Koreas. In the clash, the South Korean navy destroyed and sank a North Korean warship and Pyongyang vowed that it would repay their losses a thousand fold in the future.

Then, only a few days before the latest naval clash, North Korea threatened that it would use a nuclear bomb if “anyone,” meaning the South, obviously, should try to bring down Kim Jong-il’s regime in Pyongyang. Has the administration of South Korean president Lee Myung-bak been shaken up by the nuclear threat so that it has so quickly ruled out a North Korean attack this time?

Strangely, though, North Korea has been uncharacteristically silent on the sinking of the South Korean warship. Not that the North Koreans would admit their responsibility even if they were responsible for sinking the ship. Confronted with unshakable evidence, it would use the childish but time-honored trick to shift the blame to the enemy by claiming that it was the South Korean government that sank its own naval ship in order to foment trouble for the North.

In any event, I do not want to see the incident, however grave it was, escalate into a more serious conflict. But I, for one among many, no doubt, would like to know what really happened if only to let the souls of the young soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the incident rest in peace.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Casualties of War

As I grow older, I often look back and wonder, of all things, what kind of life I would have had if I had been born a girl. The answer, of course, is simple and clear. Women's lives on the whole are not any easier than men's. Nonetheless, I have engaged in that idle speculation ever since I heard that when my mother conceived me, she and my father wanted a boy so desperately that she locked herself in a room at a Buddhist temple and prayed for 100 days. They had enough daughters and felt they deserved a boy.

In Korea at that time (and even now, I might add), a married couple has to have a boy in order to keep the family's bloodline going--for what that is worth.

When the Korean War broke out, and I was drafted into the South Korean army to fight the Communist invaders from the North, my parents prayed for my life in a Catholic Church every day. Shortly before the war, my mother had died and Father married a Christian woman. So, my father moved from the Buddhist temple to the Christian church to pray with my stepmother for my safety. I don't know how influential their prayers were but I somehow survived that brutal war.

During the war, it appeared that women were better off than men, who had to risk their lives on the frontline. Then again, women were not safe either. To back up this point, I'll tell you a story of a girl I knew.

She was the younger sister of the wife of one of my cousins. She was a year younger than I was but girls mature sooner than boys of the same age, as they say. She had apparently taken an unusual interest in a boy--me--when we were still in middle school. I knew for a fact because when our girl servant went to her house on errands, she asked all kinds of questions about me. She even sent me a couple of letters. I couldn't make sense out of what she was trying to say in her letters, but thinking back later, I figured they must have been something akin to a "confession" of love.

The trouble was I was too shy to respond to her approach. I couldn't event look at her without blushing, much less talk to her whenever we met at family gatherings. Then, the war broke out, and I forgot all about her--that was until I heard the shocking and sad news of her death while I was away in the army.

What happened was that while the North Korean forces occupied Seoul, the capital of South Korea, her brother-in-laws--that is my cousin--worked for the so-called people's committee of the city, which was set up by the Communist party.

After the North Korean forces were repelled from Seoul by South Korean and U.S. troops, my cousin was captured and summarily executed by nothing more than a squad of South Korean soldiers. That is not all. They went to the dead man's house and gang raped the girl. Overwhelmed by the shame and despair, she later hanged herself.

Hearing that story, I felt intense anger and hatred toward those who had perpetrated the crime taking advantage of the chaos of war. I also felt a vague sense of regret that I had been unable to reciprocate her feeling toward me. Anyway, the incident showed me that women were not any safer than men nor were their lives any easier.

Throughout the war, brutality and inhuman acts that often led to death were inflicted nonchalantly as though they were routine exercises. And as an infantry solder, I had to witness them countless times so that, in the end, I became very insensitive and callous like most of my fellow soldiers. I simply stopped feeling any sense of outrage or indignation. But those scenes must have been buried deep in my unconciousness; years later, they would float to the surface, as it were, like nightmares.

One of those nightmares also involved a woman. She must have been the wife of a farmer, who had no doubt been hiding in her isolated house near a mountain pass, unable to flee from her village when the other did. She was caught either by a group of retreating Communist troops or by the advancing forces of the democratic South.

As our platoon searched the house, we happened to come upon her body. She was obviously in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and yet she had been raped before being stabbed in her abdomen with a bayonet.

Cynically, the man who committed the crime had stuck a Chrysanthemum in between her legs. The whole scene was so gruesome and sickening, I almost threw up as I ran out of the room. At the same time, I was so totally indignant and angry at all men in general that I had a hard time resisting an urge to shoot one of my superiors, who laughed at me and said, "Hey, kid you have a long way to go to become a real soldier."

How could the man who obviously liked flowers enough to pick one and carry it along with him in the battlefield, turn around the next moment and commit such a beastly and heinous crime? I simply couldn't figure it out.

Talking about war, I have noticed a recurring phenomenon in time of war, namely, the killing of "innocent civilians." Many people, especially so-called humanitarians and other self-righteous persons, beat their breasts and condemn the combatants, including and especially the soldiers of their own country. But as every soldier who has been to war knows "civilian casualties" are often unavoidable, however, regrettable they may be. That actually is one of the reasons, I believe, why so many people oppose war in the first place. But war occurs regardless of our beliefs and wishes.

And once you are at war, you are in it up to your neck.

While I was also in the thick of it for more than and half years during the Korean War, I never shot my rifle in anger, that is to say, I did not shoot with an aim to kill anyone, It was possible someone on the enemy side got wounded or even killed by the bullets I fired blindly, but as far as I know no one was. That means that I was a pretty bad solider. But to this day, I think I was fortunate--fortunate that I didn't have to kill anyone.

Nevertheless, I become exasperated whenever some self-righteous people get upset and condemn soldiers for killing "innocent civilians" without knowing the precise circumstances. Few soldiers in their right mind would kill another human being knowing that he or she was a non-combatant. But in a situation where you have to kill your enemy or get killed by them and where you have to make a decision instantaneously, you have no choice but shoot first and ask questions later. Innocent civilians get killed by stray bullets or shot at when they are forced to become a shield by the enemy. These situation occur often and they are regrettably unavoidable.

But what I cannot forgive or forget are those--soldiers on both sides--who take advantage of the confusion and chaos to commit crimes that have nothing to do with war. They include rape and the killing of innocent and helpless women as well as plundering and stealing other people's valuables with impunity.

After I became a newsman years later, I thought about digging into the aforementioned incident in which one of my distant relatives was brutally killed by a group of soldiers. But I came to realize that investigating such a killing during the war that took place a quarter of a century before and especially by the soldiers of "our own side" was well nigh impossible.

Looking back on my life, I have no particular complaint on the whole. In fact, I feel I have been fortunate in many ways, except when the horrible war ruined what should have been the best period in my life. Because of those bitter nightmarish experiences of war, I have come to believe that we must try and avoid war at any cost.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Chinese Maneuver

The Lunar New Year's Day that fell on February 14 this year by the Gregorian calendar, is one of the most joyous holidays for most Asians, including the people of North Korea.

However, for our cousins in the North, this year was an exception. They were reported to have cast the Lunary New Year's holiday aside in order to celebrate the birthday of their dictator Kim Jong-il, which happened to be a day after New Year's Day.

The traditional holiday, in other words, meant nothing when it was pitted against the mother of all festive days in North Korea--that is the birthday of the current ruler and the son of the founder of the pseudo-Communist regime, Kim Il-sung, who is worshipped by the North Koreans as a demigod.

While starving North Koreans wished "many happy returns" and a long, long life for their Dear Leader, his lackeys searched far and wide and bought many exotic animals and offered them to him as birthday presents, according to South Korean press reports. The animals included, it was said, some turtles that symbolize long life and rhinoceros.

Kim Jong-il, who reportedly survived a stroke a few years back and is suffering from other illnesses such as chronic diabetes, was able to bounce back physically, thanks to Chinese herbal medicine that included doses of the boiled horns of rhinos. They, of course, are an endangered species and poaching is prohibited under international law.

Earlier in November last year, the Kim regime undertook currency reform, entailing the redenomination of the North Korean currency, won, at the rate of 100 to 1. The unexpected reform wreacked havoc on the country's crumbling economy. It was also said to have brought extreme hardship to people who were already suffering acute shortages of food and other daily necessities.

As the level of public discontent and anger rose sharply, Pyongyang has been trying its best to divert atttention, resorting to its old trick of blaming "the U.S. imperialists and their puppets" in South Korea for their economic hardship. Pyongyang has also been threatening armed strikes against the South all winter while telling its people that it is only the military that can insure their safety from foreign aggression.

Meanwhile, partly due to the chronic mismanagement of the nation by the reclusive regime and partly due to the sanctions imposed by the United Nations to force Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons development plans, the country is in the throes of struggling with a sagging economy.

We all remember that in the late 1990s, North Korea faced total collapse but was saved in the nick of time by the then South Korean president, Kim Dae-jung, who provided Kim Jong-il with billions of dollars in emergency bailouts. North Korea, however, lost sympathetic South Korean leaders after 10 years of leftist government in Seoul, which was replaced in 2008 by that of the conservative Lee Myong-bak Administration which has been reluctant to help the North unless Pyongyang promises to scrap its nuclear program.

Now faced with another economic meltdown, North Korea has turned to China, its only remaining ally. China was reported to have agreed to invest US$10 billion in North Korea to help build railways, harbors and other social-infrastructures, presumably creating jobs for North Koreans.

And some members of the news media in South Korea and elsewhere said that China appeared to have made the decision in an effort to motivate the impoverished neighbor to rejoin the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. This, however, is only wishful thinking. For I firmly believe that North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons under any circumstance because they are the only guarantee or lifeline, if you like, for the existence of Kim Jong-il and his regime.

What's more, China will never press Kim hard enough for North Korea to give up its nuclear bombs even though it often pretends to share international concerns over North Korea's nuclear ambition. There is no reason for Beijing to worry about Pyongyang's possession of nuclear weapons as it literally holds the fate of the Kim Jong-il regime in its hand.

China's decision to invest so much money in North Korea is part of its strategy to lay the groundwork--or pretext--to go into North Korea and install a puppet government should the Kim Jong-il regime collapses and civil unrest and political chaos ensue. For such an eventuality, China will never allow South Korea, one of the staunchest allies of the United States, to intervene in North Korea, much less try to unify the two Koreas.

In any event, chances for the Korean people to see their countries reunite in the foreseeable future seems to have receded further by China's latest sly maneuver.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

At War?

Al-Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups have been terrorizing and killing innocent people in the United States and the rest of the non-Moslem world, calling their cowardly and heinous acts necessary steps in what they call jihad or holy war. Al Qaeda soldiers sent by their leaders to blow themselves up with bombs to kill "enemies" are considered warriors who are willing to sacrifice their life for victory.

But not all suicide bombers succeeded in their mission as we have seen in the failed bomb attack against a Northwest airliner over Detroit by the 23-year-old Nigerian on Christmas day.

As soon as the plane landed in Detroit, the Nigerian terrorist was taken into custody by American civilian authorities that provided him with a lawyer and advised him that he has Miranda rights.

In short, the jihad fighter was going to be investigated and tried as a common criminal in an American civilian court, not in a military court as a prisoner of war, even though President Obama has finally acknowledged that America is at war with al-Qaeda.

The reasoning of the Obama administration goes like this: the bombing that could have killed nearly 300 passengers was attepted aboard an American airplane over an American city. Therefore, the would-be murderer should be tried in a civilian court in the United States.

But not many people in this country seem to realize that this way of thinking, based on the spirit of fairness and justice, will, nevertheless, infuriate the al-Qaeda leadership. Just try to imagine the intensity of anger and frustration that al-Qaeda leaders felt when they heard that their "warriors" who had failed to carry out their mission were caught by the enemy and were being held for a jury trial as a criminal by an American court.

They would think, "How dare the Americans treat our valiant and invincible warriors" as common criminals? If the situation were reversed, al-Qaeda leaders would put their American captives on television for all the world to see and forced them to confess their crime before executing them.

"But we are not like them," one liberral American politician declared in a televised debate here the other day. "We are not like the ruthless barbarians who ignore the basic rights of other people and who refuse to abide by international rules."

He said that unlike many of our aqdversaries, Americans believe even a terrorist who tries to kill hundreds of people deserves a day in court and that he should be treated fairly with a firm sense of justice, at least until he is proven guilty. He added that that is why Americans believe all those terrorists should be tried in civilian courts.

That is also why, they insist, all the Islamic prisoners held at Guantanamo prison should be moved to civilian prisons elsewhere and some of them should even be released.

These, of course, are admirable--even noble--thoughts and beliefs. But would our enemies understand, much less appreciate, the American sense of fairness and justice? I doubt it. In fact, I would be surprised if the members of al-Qaeda and other enemies of America, didn't laugh at what they believe was the "hypocritical attitude of the Americans" as well as "the naivety" of U.S. foreign policymakers.

The truth of the matter is that all those callous al-Qaeda leaders could not care less about the fate of their failed fighters while it is the Americans, especially the breast-beating liberals, who are concerned about the rights and well-being of the enemy soldiers in their captivity.

"We don't care how our adversaries behave," the afore-mentioned politician said. "We should simply do what we believe is right." But the problem is that this kind of thinking is taken by al-Qaeda as a sign of weakness; it also encourages them to keep attacking Americans.

This means that we cannot always be idealistic in politics in general and in our relations with other nations in particular, especially when the people of some of these countries are out to kill us for one reason or anolther. Nor can we ignore the mentality as well as cultures of those people and try to judge them with our own standard alone. We should try and understand their way of thinking, if we are to counter their future attacks and eventually defeat them.

It is often impossible to talk sensibly to an irrational people. There is a saying in Asia that the only medicine that works on mad dogs is a club with which we can beat sense into them. This saying, I realize, has an unfortunate choice of words, but the fact is, the only that will compel fanatical people to come to their senses is brute and merciless force with which we can deal a decisive and crippling blow to them.

If we are at war with al-Qaeda, as the president declared, then we must fight with full force and unwavering determination in order to win. We shouldn't, in other words, make half-hearted and ludicrous efforts like, for instance, attempting to try the captured enemy combatants in civilian courts like common domestic criminals.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

At the Airport

Our life gets tougher every time a terrorist or a group of terrorists blew up or tried to blow up civilian airliners, killing hundreds of innocent people.

Luckily, I didn't have the need for traveling by air over this past holiday season. But even without paying any attention to press reports these days, I knew security checks at all airports throughout America and elsewhere have become extremely tight in the wake of the failed attempt by a young Nigerian terrorist to bomb a Northwest/Delta airline plane on Christmas day.

I know what it is like to go through the security check at an airport because I have had an unpleasant experience of being singled out for more thorough check than others at the San Francisco International Airport in 2003.

Having lived nearly three quarters of a century, I thought I have learned the truth: what you think of yourself can be quite different from what others think of you. Nevertheless, I got a little upset when I was picked out of literally hundreds of individuals by airport officers as one of the passengers who, they apparently thought, needed a thorough bodily search before being allowed to board the airplane.

Why me? What made them think that this old, harmless man who can't kill a fly without feeling queasy could be a possible terrorist? I may not look like a refined gentleman. But neither do I look like a man of action, I am sure, with a pair of burning eyes, who would pursue a political or religious cause single-mindedly and at the expense of his own life.

"Would you step this way, please?" one of the security officers led me to a small cordoned off area where several men were waiting their turns to be checked and questioned.

I had just come through a metal detector successfully, that is, without triggering an alarm. Heaving a little sigh of relief, I went to a table where I picked up my carry-on bag, which had been x-rayed and was about to leave the area when the officer told me that they wantede to check me further.

First, the officer asked me if it was all right to look in my bag. It contained photographic film that I was carrying in a special lead container that was supposed to protect them from the x-ray.

"What's in it?" the officer asked me, pointing at the bag.

"Some 35-millimeter film," I told him.

"Are you a photographer?"

"A sort of...," I replied under my breath. I did not want to tell him that I was a retired journalist who happened to have developed a life-long habit of carrying a camera during all waking hours. You never knew what kind of newsworthy incident you might run into and become a valuable witness. Why you may even get a Pulitzer Prize, if you're lucky.

The officer took all 30 rolls of films out of the bag and checked them before putting them back. He then knocked the heels of my shoes with a small metal rod to see if I had something hidden in them.

Satisfied apparently that I was clean, the officer finally told me to go.

Although I knew I had to hurry up as I was running out of time to board the plane, I asked him what standard the security officers used to pick certain passengers to give a thorough check. "There is no such rule," he said, explaining that officers mostly rely on their "hunch."

"But in your case, it was different," he added.

"Oh? What was wrong with me?"

He said he had to check me becasue the airline clerk at the check-in counter "flagged" certain passengers for them to give a more than routine check to. Only then, I remembered a small incident earlier at the check-in countger. The airline clerk, seeing that my baggage was overweigh by half a pound, told me to take something out right there. I had to unpack the back while so many people behind me waited impatiently in line. I took half a pound of things from the luggage and stuffed them into my carry-on bag.

I knew I should have kept my mouth shut then, but since I was more embarrassed than annoyed, I made a snide remark to the clerk, point out that "the poor airplane is gonna carry that half a pound anyway, isn't it?"

With that remark, I must have succeeded in upsetting the clerk. I may be wrong, but he could have tried to settle the score with me by singling me out to the security officers as a passenger who should be scrutinized before being allowing on board.

In any event, I had forgotten all about that incident until I ran into an old friend at a party in Korea. He told me about a similar experience he had when he visited America. It was quite an unpleasant and demeaning experience, he said. I did not tell my story. I just said he shouldn't take such security procedures personally.

After all, the security officers at airports in America as well as in other countries are doing their job as they are required to do in order to prevent hijacking or other terrorist acts. Actually, we should rather be thankful that they carry out their work dutifully and thoroughly so that all of us can travel by air safely.

If there is anyone we should get mad at, it should be the terrorists who do not hesitate to blow up airplanes with bombs or take you and a whole lot of other innocent people in an airplane and crash it into tall buildings or other targets in a futile and senseless attempt to terrorize the world.


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