Today it was still brutally cold with the temperatures hovering just below 20°F (feels like -2°F). Fortunately hand warmers are readily available and everyone agrees that the Army’s warmers are the most effective. Speaking of the Army, every volunteer working on the sports field works with a member of the Korean Army. It sounds way more intimidating than it actually is.
I work with both Lee and Steve. Steve spent some time in New Zealand and is extremely proficient in English. Apparently, all males are required to serve time in the Korean Army. Lee has already graduated from college where he studied golf management and has aspirations to compete in the Olympics. Unfortunately, he has little time to practice while he’s in the military so is anxious to complete his time and get back on the course. (Coincidentally, I met a Chinese volunteer who wears black framed glasses without the lenses who also studied golf and is a pro at a club in China; although he claims not to be very good at the sport.) Steve is taking a break from his studies and plans to resume his education after his tour of duty.
Neither Lee nor Steve carries a weapon. They wear the signature volunteer uniform and there is nothing on their clothing (or in their manner, actually) to indicate they’re in the service. In addition to the Army soldiers, the Police are present at the Olympics (seen mostly having lunch in the cafeteria). They wear very impressive, lush yellow coats with fur collars. Most of the police officers do not carry weapons either, apparently only just a special force. I asked Steve what would happen if there was an incident or a perpetrator broke through the “access control” check points. Apparently, the Army soldiers would attempt to stop them manually and then call for special forces, if necessary. Despite the uncertainty of this response, I feel very safe here in Korea.
By Gina Daddario, Professor and Chair of Mass Communication, Posting from Sokcho, Korea