The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

April 5, 2013

Pyongyang rumblings have little effect on South Koreans



SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Outsiders might hear the opening notes of a war in the deluge of threats and provocations from North Korea, but to South Koreans it is a familiar drumbeat.

Separated from the North by a heavily fortified border for decades, they have for the most part lived with tough talk from Pyongyang all their lives. In annual defense drills, war alarms ring in their ears.

Foreigners unused to North Korean rumblings have canceled trips to the Korean Peninsula. But to get South Koreans' attention, Pyongyang must compete with the economy, celebrity scandals, baseball games and cherry blossoms.

At a restaurant in downtown Seoul that sells kimchi stew and fried cutlets, owner Lee Chul-je said he wasn't worried about the threats, as news about them poured from a TV in the corner.

"North Korea does this all the time," the 65-year-old said as he dropped slices of raw meat into a tenderizer. "I'm sure things will become OK again."

Office worker Park Geun-san is more interested in next week's Seoul concert by "Gangnam Style" singer PSY than in the North's dark pronouncements.

"My life isn't affected by them," he said. "I'm really excited about going to the concert. North Korea doesn't distract me from looking forward to it."

North Korea has responded with fury over U.N. sanctions following its third nuclear test Feb. 12, and over ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises. Among other statements, it has threatened a nuclear strike against the U.S., declared that it has scrapped the Korean War armistice, blocked South Koreans from entering a jointly run industrial park and announced that it will restart a plutonium reactor and produce more fuel for nuclear bombs.

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