Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Nuclear subs, North Korea and Anne Frank?

Note: This article is a bit off course from my usual dialogue but on occasion, journalistic instincts long ago retired to the back of my mind will whisper in my ear, resulting in an article of note that is better suited in a newspaper rather than my site, however, the familiar tingling in my fingers and an oppressive headache is an indication of the need to write with my usual six-pack of Dr. Pepper and a bottle of Tylenol beside me.

A United States nuclear submarine traveling at full speed, ran head on into an undersea mountain off the shores of Guam. One sailor died and others sustained injuries. I drove down to Apra Harbor where the sub is docked, but security is tight. A nuclear sub cruising Guam's waters? How odd... I find it interesting that over a month ago, CNN reported that a Chinese nuclear sub was discovered covertly splicing into Guam and Japan waters. Since then, U.S. military activities have increased. Guam, for those of you who are not aware, is located in the Western Pacific and is home to over 150,000 residents from all over the world, the indigenous residents claiming the distinct Chamorro heritage. Guam is also a U.S. military installation base.

Am I the only one fixated on the likely possibility of a war with North Korea? After all, the North Koreans have flicked the proverbial finger to the United States announcing that they will not decrease or cease their nuclear arms program, bringing unease and anxiety in the halls of Congress and the Oval Office. Financially and militarily, the United States cannot afford another war on the other side of the globe. The U.S. is the strongest country in the world, but sending U.S. troops around the world to fight wars will tax its coffers. And dare we say the -D- word?

Koreans are a mysterious people culturally. They are proud, stubborn and North Koreans particularly are decidedly anti-American. The internationally recognized protocol does not apply to them.. because they do not accept it. They have a structure and style that is uniquely theirs which is difficult to understand because of its complexity and volatileness.

Don't get me wrong, there are many Koreans who have embraced Western ways, to the dismay of their parents and third generational forebears. On Guam, many Koreans are productive members of our community. But during times of peace, one does not question another's loyalty. Patriotism is an integral part of the Korean community, no matter where they live in the world.
Koreans are a study in contrasts because on one hand, they struggle to safeguard the old ways while on the other, they realize the need to partake in world globalization and the need to find their niche and define the role they play in it.

An interesting fact is that the North Korean government bought the rights to the beloved book, "The Diary of Anne Frank", for translation and publication in their native tongue. This book is required reading in all Korean schools. The purpose is to instill in all North Korean children how NOT to act when one is invaded. Do not hide. Do not be afraid, for fear will defeat you. To them, Anne Frank was a coward. It is certainly a unique interpretation.

The course of a nation is determined by its culture and the mindset of its people, and hopefully, mutual cultural understanding and reciprocity beween nations will prevail, always.

For the full story regarding the USS San Francisco, click here, www.cnn.com/2005/US/01/10/nuclear.submarine.update/index.html


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