I had this sudden urge to see "Sophie Scholl" a couple days ago. I had no idea why, but then I fast forwarded to the interrogation scene... and the words of the interrogator sounded eerily familiar. No room for dissent. Fear and panic in the political climate. Eager reliance on a "strong" leader. War-hawking.
There's no denying that the North Korean government is batshit crazy and not to be trusted. But I can't agree with the general prevailing sentiment that the North is now our worst enemy. What really I'm afraid of is that singlehandedly, this one attack will be the event that begins to unravel all the progress Korea has made towards liberalism in the past 60 years. I personally think North Korea is not the problem, that all of the current major world powers have it in their best interests to push Korea to the brink of renewed civil war (in the worst case scenario, Korea could become the next Iraq), that conservatives are (stupidly; if Korea actually does fall over the brink and goes to war they stand to lose a lot) using this as a reason to solidify their support base, that peace must be kept at all costs. However, the political climate right now has changed overnight so that I would be metaphorically stoned for voicing such thoughts.
One thing I agree with: the current president is not so bad after all. Before, people had to worry about getting issued arrest warrants if they spoke out against the government. Now, there's no need for the government to do that; the people are policing thoughtcrime on their own. I am realizing for the first time that there are much, much worse things than bad leaders. And to confront that fact in my daily life frankly scares me as few things have scared me before.
I know people said similar things of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and many of their doomsday predictions never came true. I hope that is the case for my own fears. But somehow, this feels even worse than 9/11. Not the magnitude of the incident itself, but the implications this has for the well-being of the rest of the country. Yes, 9/11 was a shocking event, but there was a very small chance for subsequent conflicts being fought on American soil. And... America did change, sadly not for the better.
Not to mention, most importantly, that technically—and psychologically—the Korean War never ended. This just opens up that festering sore that was never healed in the first place.
(As for the political—and, if it comes to the worst case scenario, logistical—end of the situation, I'm not an analyst so I really don't know what to say, but this article at OneFreeKorea.com offers some articulate suggestions. Though I personally think putting pressure on China will achieve nothing: as I have said before it is in China's best interests to promote instability and friction between the two Koreas, not to mention the fact that America's political clout against China is fast on the decline.)