Since I came back to Seoul in September, I’ve rarely watched Korean TV news. It’s partly because I hadn’t watched news much for the previous five months while living in Nuuk, Greenland, simply because I couldn’t understand the language at first, and then later I didn’t have cable, and the Internet is extremely expensive there. I guess I sort of lost interests in learning what’s going on in this world. I became so adjusted to living paying more attention to my life and the people just around me, and the changes in the nature.
Even when I read the local newspaper, online or offline, with the help of Google Translation, it seemed like daily news were mostly informative in a very plain tone: Government decided to spend more on what; Who’s coming to Greenland (like when Hilary Clinton made her visit, it was one of the biggest news I’d seen in the five month span); Denmark’s crown prince gave his twin babies Greenlandic middle names; A polar bear got caught near Nuuk, etc. Or sometimes they have interview articles of like one of the best cooks in town. The only crime story I’ve read was that big amount of money that was given to the children on the confirmation day was stolen in Sisimiut, the second largest city in Greenland. (Here when a child is confirmed at church, the family invites friends and family to a kaffemik, a coffee gathering with lots of food, cakes, coffee and tea. And the guests give the kid some money to congratulate one of the most important days of his/her life.)
Of course, Greenland is not a paradise. They have alcohol problems, and they suffer one of the world’s highest suicide rate, if not the highest. And if I had understood either Danish or Greenlandic, I would have found more dark stories.
But today, after watching KBS 9 News for about 10 minutes (precisely 8 minutes), I just couldn’t stand it any more. It was just too much. A North Korean defector got killed at the border of N.Korea and China; S. Koreans were kidnapped in the Philippines; Some local universities’ heads were found for corruption… Words people interviewed were using were violent, harsh, frustrating, and cold. All of sudden, I felt stuffed. That was my breaking point. I turned off the TV.
And I remembered what my friend Eva told me the other day after her recent trip to Canada. She spent one night in a small town not far from Vancouver. She said, “You know what? The day’s big news was that a reindeer got killed by a vehicle!”
Not that the reindeer’s death isn’t sad. But that people have time even to care about a single reindeer’s death, and that nothing more serious isn’t happening is what I’m desperately missing today.