May 20, 2010:  Soon after my arrival in Korea, on March 26, 2010, the Cheonan, a 1200-ton South Korean navy ship carrying 104 people, sank off the the country’s west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen.  For more on the incident, see mail online: Korea tensions over claims that warship was sunk by torpedo.

The strange thing for me, newly arrived in Korea, was the Koreans’ nonchalance about the matter.  Most people I talked to, including my co-teachers Coffee J, Kim Dong Hee and Julie, all shrugged the incident off as inconsequential.  Of course, many of my fellow English teachers were a little worried about this confrontation and wondered if we had made a mistake coming to the peninsula.  When I asked Coffee J whether I should be worried, he shook his head and shrugged.  It’s normal, he said.  This kind of thing happens from time to time.  It’s nothing to worry about.

So, I went about my daily life, much like we do in the U.S. when a hurricane strikes or some other threat looms.  Life goes on and it did continue to do so for us in Korea.