Since North Korea tested a nuclear weapon the pollution in the air in Busan has been unbearable. For the last two weeks we haven't seen the sun and a neon yellow-green hazy hangs in the air. I don't like to think that I am being irraiated and yet and am starting to think that must be the case. Finally, in the last week the air has started to clear a little. Still I wonder and worry about the effects or maybe I should say fallout of the test. Am I over-reacting?
Maybe. Certainly, I shouldn't be downloading a watching CBS's new hit TV show "Jericho" about a small Kansas town that is left to survive after a nuclear bomb goes off in nearby Denver. Bad idea for me to be watching it at a time like this but it is a good TV show.
Moreover, I downloaded and read the Canadian Embassy's "Emergency Evacuation Plan" and I have to say it is not very reassuring. The fact that the Canadian Government has not updated their plan since I first arrived in Korea in January 2003 and subsequently registered with the Canadian Embassy in Seoul and they first e-mailed me the Evacuation Plan is not a good sign. In fact, even in light of the current heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula the plan says "The chance that an evacuation might be necessary is rather remote."
Moreover, they advise me that "In case of emergency, Canadians have to carefully listen to the public broadcasting such as TV and radio, but AFKN [American Forces Korea Network] should be their first source". They give the following frequencies for me to monitor "Pusan Radio FM 88.1 and AM 1260" both of which I tried just this minute [to double check] and surprise, surprise they don't work. In fact, I can get NO ENGLISH broadcasts on my CD Player/Radio. I didn't think the frequency would work now that Camp Hialeah is closed and therefore I assume not broadcasting or relaying transmittions in the Busan area.
I am left feeling so nervous and wanting to get out of here and thus the "preceived danger area" that I don't know what to do. I went to my doctor and got sleeping pills cause I can no longer sleep here anymore. I truth I would go home to Canada in a minute it I had the money to. But I am an economic slave so to speak. If I were to leave now I would have to pay back 1,000,000 won to repay the recruiter who brought me here. That's over a thousand dollars Canadian. I would have to repay my airfare to come to Korea [if I give notice or leave prior to teaching six months here]. Moreover, I might have to pay some penality money to my employeer and give one month's notice and I might even be expected to help find a replacement for myself. All, in all I am stuck. I will just have to try and keep my head down and keep my mouth shut and keep marking off days on the calandar until I can get out of here. I will continue to try and make the best of it but truthfully my nerves are shot.
I think that I probably never felt in danger before because in all my time in Korea I have always lived close to an operational and functional American Military Base and now that Camp Hialeah in Busan is closed I am not feeling so safe and secure. I used to spend the majority of my free time including all weekends and holidays on the base with my friends here in Busan and before that when I lived in Gumi at Cp Carroll in Waegwan or Cp Walker in Daegu. I felt like I always knew what was going in and that if anything happened that I'd be taken care of. Maybe I was wrong in assuming that [since I am a Canadian not an American citizen] nonetheless that's how I felt.
In reading the Emergeny Evacuation Plan more closely I note that it does say that "The Embassy must stress that although a 'global agreement' does exist between the Canadian and U.S. governments to assist one another in times of crisis, there is no specific agreement pertaining to Korea. The understanding is that USFK [United States Forces Korea] and the U.S. Embassy personnel will take care of U.S. nationals first, and nationals of other countries with which they have "global agreements", second, should their resources permit this. Should Canadian nationals proceed to an American military facility for assistance at the time of a crisis, they must exercise patience, and be prepared to wait until American citizens have been dealth with. It is this fact that should encourage all Canadians in Korea to react early to deteriorating political, military or other situations on the peninsula, and arrange for their own and their dependents early departure via commercial transport."
All this got me thinking about Camp Hialeah and my days there. I didn't take a lot of pictures there or at least not that many that feel free to use. I try always to protect people's privacy and don't post their pictures unless they give me permission. That said I found the following website that has lots of pictures of what CP Hialeah in Busan used to look like. Here's the link.
I took the following pictures during my Hialeah Days.
The main gate at Hialeah.
Picture taken outside Hialeah's front gate. This picture was taken on the duty bus back from CP Walker in Daegu.
Hialeah's Army Community Services Center.
A street on the base.
J. a friend of mine, and me taken on the base in front of the playground.
Business card showing the location of the Dallas club just outside gate 4 the main gate at Hialeah.
The enterance to the Dallas Club. The place everyone went dancing at 6 am on Saturday morning [the time curfew ended and everyone was allowed out again].
Dancing at the Dallas Club.
The Dallas Club.
Painting on the wall at the Dallas Club.
"Mama-san". A small shop owner just outside the back walk-in gate. She sold long distance telephone cards and cigerettes. I wonder if she went out of business now that the base and thus all her customers are gone?
To all my army buddy friends from Hialeah and elsewhere. I miss you. Take care.