Life in South Korea

Life in South Korea

A former Tupton Hall Sixth Former has been in touch from South Korea, where he is now living.

Robbie Dale has kindly responded to questions sent to him from Tupton Hall Sixth Form.

These are some of the questions sent with Robbie's answers.

Why are talks suddenly happening between North and South Korea?

The general reason for why the talks are happening now is because of the current new president, Moon Jae-In (문재인). He was elected in May last year and he has a positive outlook on the North and he desires to work together with them. The previous president, Park Geun-Hye (박근혜) had the opposite approach and wanted no involvement with the North.

She was well respected as she is the daughter of the previous president who people think of as building Korea into what it is today and causing the “Miracle on the Han River”. However, she was involved in a scandal involving business and donating money. There were mass protests which got her impeached and in April she was convicted in court and sentenced to 24 years in prison. Since she has left, people have been more open to accepting the new president’s ideas of working with the North.

If Korea was to become unified who would govern? 

This question is very hard to answer as nobody knows for sure what will happen. The Koreans believe that unification is a long way away. Even though there is much more communication between the two countries now it is very unlikely that the unification will happen any time soon. There would be so many economic, political, social and cultural issues to consider.

As for who will govern, that isn’t really a thought that Koreans have now. If there is a unification in the future, it is likely that there will still be two leaders, one for the South and one for the North. 

Are the rumours that we hear in the West about North Korea true?

Before I moved to Korea, North Korea was always in the news about possible nukes, war etc. However, in South Korea, North Korea is not the big issue that the West think it is. I remember thinking that South Koreans must live in constant fear that the North will attack at any moment but that is just not the case. I suspect that some Koreans even forget they are still at war with the North because its so far out of their mind and daily lives.

When I ask why they are so comfortable when their neighbour could bring about another World War, they believe that Kim Jong-Un would not do anything to jeopardise the position he is in. He is the leader of the country and he is almost worshipped by the population, (as we are told to believe anyway), so why would he do anything to put that at risk? If he was to fire a missile or a nuke to the South, he knows, the South knows, the West knows and even the whole world knows that the allies of South Korea would invade the North and end the paradise that he has been living.

There have been people who have escaped the North and have taken refuge in the South. They confirm some of the rumours of the North, such as famine and the vicious rule of the government. They also have a caste system which determines your worth based on who your parents are. However, I do think that the rumours are exaggerated much more in the West to get a reaction and just to create news.

I also want to point out that although the South are relaxed about the North, they still consider them a threat. The two schools I have worked for both have underground shelters and I presume all schools have them. There are occasional evacuation drills in the schools to prepare for the worst. There is also mandatory military conscription for males in South Korea; males between 18-35 must serve 2 years in the military (women can volunteer for the military but do not have to serve).

Robbie added that it was not until he attended university that he decided to move to South Korea, but that without Tupton Hall Sixth Form's help he would never have gone to university and made that decision.

He said: "I have many fond memories of Tupton School and Sixth Form and I loved my time there. All the way through the seven years I spent there, the teachers and staff were always supportive and encouraged me to be the best I can which I much appreciate."

Robbie thanked Miss Lee and Mrs Clark who taught him in Maths saying they were "caring, supportive and amazing."

He said his French teacher Mrs Betton was incredibly "kind and patient".

He also said he had very fond memories of classes with Mr Crunkhorn, Mrs Jeffries, Dr Russ, Mrs Johnson, Mr Godwin and Mr Frost.

He also thanked Mr Tyrell and Mr Tinsley.