Canadian turned South Korean says Korean tensions overblown


Lars Lonnroth, Assistant News Editor

On the Korean Peninsula, Greg Ory lives in South Korea’s second largest city, Busan. After moving to South Korea due to the increased economic opportunities that were not available in his native Canada, he has established himself as a teacher and amateur author in South Korea.

With the world’s eyes seeming fixed on the Korean Peninsula as a result of North Korea’s efforts to build nuclear weapons capable of reaching the U.S. and other western nations, Ory told the LION that the issue has been overblown. Ory’s responses have been edited for length and clarity, and only reflects his views and perspectives.

Q: How has the situation in North Korea changed over your time living in South Korea?

Ory: Over the last four years the situation has not really changed to be honest. Maybe two years ago things were at their most tense point due to North Korean soldiers sneaking over the Demilitarized Zone and planting landmines on the South Korean side. South Korean soldiers who were on patrol stepped on the landmine, lost limbs and even suffered severe injuries. It led to both sides shelling positions and lead to the real possibility of military action taking place.

For some reason, the U.S. media didn’t really care about the situation at the time. Only now that Trump is in office and making the situation more dramatic, the U.S. media is covering the situation like war will break out at any time. In reality, it’s just a war of words versus in previous years when soldiers were killed. Back when the South Korean soldiers stepped on the landmine planted by the North, both the U.S. and global media didn’t really take an interest.

Q: How often does North Korea come up in your day to day life?

Ory: Not that often, unless my friend and I are making a joke while hiking, or I’m talking to friends or family back home.

People in Korea are very desensitized to the whole situation here, so hard talk is nothing new and this kind of rhetoric is hardly even news worthy. I personally believe the U.S. and global media is sensationalizing the situation to boost their rating and viewership. The average person here in Korea doesn’t really pay attention the North Korean situation. Even when missiles are launched and nukes are tested people here are oblivious and don’t really care all that much. It’s just a fact of everyday life living here.

Q: Do you think there could be war between the west and North Korea?

Ory: Realistically, no. North Korea will not make any first moves in a war because they know they will lose to Korean and U.S. forces. The North Korean army is not particularly sophisticated and they lack crucial war items such as gasoline. President Trump legally can’t declare war on North Korea without South Korea’s agreement according to the mutually signed treaty. The president of South Korea is very anti-war and willing to engage the North in dialogue and diplomacy.  The U.S. would not unilaterally start war with North Korea because it would cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.