KOREA: The Scars Of War Are All Gone

By  John Derby
Times Publisher
June 16, 2016

If we came to see the scars of war in Korea, they are all gone with the exception of those in the War Museum and at the DMZ Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.
The country is young and yet old. It has many young people, and yet it has a history of people who settled in Korea 10,000 years ago.
Half of the South Korean people live in and around Seoul which is reputed to be the second largest city in the world. It also has one of the most modern Metro systems in the world, which operates at a very low price (just over $1 a ride).
Young South Koreans follow the trend of the world in that they are millennials and spend most of what they have on travel, and beautifully made, inexpensive clothing. In Seoul, they dine out often.
The country has become a mecca for people all over the world, and specially those who come from China, Japan and Thailand. South Korea prospers on its tourist trade and industrial growth, but like most of the world, that has slowed and it looms as a major problem for the future.
The Chinese still provide much of Korea’s goods because the Chinese labor market is far cheaper than the Korean labor market. The minimum wage earner in Korea earns $6 an hour. The Chinese worker receives much less than that, but true statistics are not available and much of their labor is forced.
Korean men must serve in military service for two years, and that keeps the balance of young women to young men in the city to about 2 to 1.
The old are less visible, but respected as they have always been in Korean history.
We do not know where the Koreans hide their poor, as they are not visible if they exist.
Medical care is very cheap and it is good.
Even as a foreigner we were quoted $20 for an X-ray, and $600 for an MRI.
The ratio of doctors to population is high compared to the United States. A woman having a baby in Korea will stay in the hospital for two weeks normally, which is unheard of in the States.
Births went down after the Korean War, but now have caught up, and the increase is having a big impact on the public services such as education. We were told that young children do not start school until they are seven ,but we noticed large groups of very young children being taken to the museums.
Museums are incredible, with the Korean National Museum said to be one of the largest in the world — and it is free.
We only skimmed the surface of the museum in one day, and found some of the most beautiful gold workmanship dated back more than 1,000 years.
Their quality of iron was some of the best in the world, and developed early compared to Europe, as was their ability to print. They had interchangeable metal type two hundred years before Gutenberg, and produced a very fine paper.
South Korea has now been able to develop for over 60 years under the shield of the United States and the United Nations, but it lives under the threat of the North Korean Army and its nuclear capability.
It has a very intelligent population and is capable of generating its own nuclear capacity, which may come to pass as the United States pulls back from being world’s policeman.
While we saw no signs of Korea wanting the Americans to leave their country, it may in time become an economic issue.
There are no dead Americans here, almost everyone was taken back home for burial.
The bomb craters have been filled in or built over.
All the signs of the war are gone.
What is left is a vibrant and energetic country.
We leave it as we found it — taking only pictures, writing only stories, and leaving only footprints.

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