^ I'm not trying to sound snotty but I know so, rather than think so. I lived there for three and a half years.
In that time the border was sealed after a South Korean tourist was shot in the back - South Koreans used to be able to visit certain scenic, underpopulated parts of NK as part of organized tour groups. She apparently strayed too far from the zone they were supposed to stay in. The N Koreans said she was heading further away from that zone but the autopsy showed she was shot in the back while running away from the shooter.
The Cheonnan (a submarine) was sunk by the North Koreans. Some South Koreans actually believed that the North Koreans were not responsible (which they also claimed) and that it was a training exercise with the Americans gone wrong. Young, educated Koreans do not trust their government controlled media at all.
The island of Yongpyeong was shelled by North Koreans - two died. Interesting aside, a co-worker of mine was running late and had to take a taxi to work. Her driver happened to be North Korean and tried to rile her up. He was saying how the North Koreans could get away with killing a few S Koreans every couple of years and the S Koreans would never do anything about it. We guessed that he was a defector who had hoped for a better life in SK but had to deal with being a bit of an outcast with no real prospects in Seoul.
Also, perhaps most significantly, Kim Jong-il died. This was probably the thing that got the biggest reaction in SK but the reaction was still quite subdued compared the news coverage in the west. S Koreans were a little nervous of the change but also quietly optimistic that things might improve in the long run.
One of the biggest criticisms of the recently elected president was that her stance towards NK was/is too soft.
All that has happened recently is a whole load of bluster. There hasn't been any actually violence just a whole load of talk, which is nothing new.
Yeah, I think the Japanese are eager to not have this problem hanging over them.
The thing is, yes, the Kims are crazy but they are the brainwashers, not the brainwashees, they know they'd stand no chance against SK, Japan, the US and others.
Thanks for the info and insights.
Regarding the current Kim, Kim Jong-Un, although some in the American media think he is crazy, US state department officials and American North Koran experts do NOT think at all that he is crazy. They say he wants to be taken seriously and treated with respect, and he feels like the nuclear bomb is the only leverage he has.
A number of American experts on North Korea outside US government have said North Korea had expressed their willingness to get rid off their nuclear arsenal, and wanted the word to get out to US government at the highest level, but when they were publicly disparaged and openly ridiculed by the Bush administration, they decided to take a hardline.
The US (and its western allies) refusal to negotiate face to face with NK has further exacerbated the tension as NK felt dis-respected and mistreated by the US.
Looking at the example or Iran suspected to be on the way to have a Nuclear Bomb and is somewhat more respected by the US, and the Obama administration continuing the Bush policy and refusing to have direct negotiation with NK, further irritated them and they felt like they were losing face (which in Asia is not well seen) , they like they no choice but play the best card they had, the Nuclear Bomb card.
Last but not least, seeing how the US government is close to Pakistan, a country with Nuclear Bomb, but the US turn around and ask to get rid off theirs, gave them an opening to convince their people that the US is really out to destroy, and the US plan is first to weaken them, then attack.
PS> BTW, now, do you live in the USA, Ireland or GB?