Threats of war on the
Korean peninsula are not troubling those in the south, says a Borders teacher familiar with life there.
Former Kelso High School pupil, JD Stewart, 25, jetted out to South Korea on Monday after a seven-week break back home in Yetholm.
He was returning to the city of Daegu for his second year-long stint teaching English to local students.
And he says the current sabre-rattling emanating from the north’s capital, Pyongyang, is nothing new for those living in the democratic south.
“I was in contact with a friend in South Korea recently and everyone there is just going about life as normal.
“Everything is very placid and the situation is not regarded as being as serious as it is made out to be in the UK,” Mr Stewart, the son of Susan and Mike Stewart, told us.
“Something might blow up one day, but there’s always something happening of this nature and people are used to it.
“That being said, I always monitor what the British Embassy and the Foreign Office are saying and there have been no warnings not to travel to South Korea.”
Mr Stewart opted for the temporary life of an English language teacher in what is one of Asia’s most technologically-advanced nations after friend and former schoolmate, Marnie Ker, who was already in the country working as a teacher, recommended it.
And he has loved his time in South Korea so much he says he may opt for a third year in Daegu, the country’s fourth largest city with 2.5million residents.
“I don’t know yet. But living and working in Daegu has been fantastic. The people are very friendly and the students are desperate to learn English, and the pay is good,” he explained.
But it was a trip last autumn to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), separating the communist north from its southern pro-west neighbour and organised by the US military, that proved a real eye-opener.
“The drive took about 40 minutes and as we moved north, the roads became quiet and incredibly eerie.”
Mr Stewart said the saddest part was visiting Dorasan Station, once intended to be the final link in the Trans-Siberian Express.
“We posed for photos on a railway line that literally went nowhere.
“It is sad to think unification is not possible. They talk about invading the south, but they’re starving – all they’d probably want to do is eat.”