There has been quite a lot of military activity over the past few days, especially in the air space between Seoul and the DMZ where I live, with many military helicopters flying the route daily.
I wasn’t sure what was happening until I was informed that today was the 65th anniversary of South Korea’s Army and a huge military parade took place in Seoul to mark the occasion.
Two Black Hawk helicopters fly over my school in Munsan, South Korea.
Armed Forces Day is an annual celebration in South Korea, held on October 1st each year, the day that South-Korean forces broke through the 38th parallel in 1950 during the Korean War, and is held in honour of South Korea’s military forces.
Over 11,000 soldiers and 120 aircraft were involved in today’s Armed Forces Day Parade , which is said to have been South Korea’s largest military parade in over a decade. The parade also displayed many of South Korea’s top military weapons including a never before seen GPS-guided cruise missile capable of traveling over 1,000 km.
Let’s just hope that none of those extremely high tech weapons will ever need to be used, as they were when I was here back in 2010, when North Korea bombed Yeonpyeong Island and killed two South Korean Soldiers.
A lot of images have been shared on various social media sites this morning, such as twitter and facebook, relating to a huge fire which broke out in the early hours of Monday morning in Itaewon, the foreigner district of Seoul. The story was also covered by 10 Magazine on their website HERE.
It has not yet been confirmed what started the fire but reports say it took place between 7.30am and 9am in the area next to the Hamilton Hotel, on Itaewon’s main strip. Reportedly, a whole block hasNo serious injuries have been reported but much of the main road between Itaewon station and Noksapyeong is currently closed off.
More images and video footage can be viewed HERE.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that last Thursday I lost my amazing GoPro camera, after attaching it to 23 helium balloons, and watching in dismay after the wind snapped the rope and it floated high into the sky over county cork. (You can read about all the drama HERE.)
What you might not know is that I was stopping at nothing to get that camera back! I contacted the local radio station, and used the power of social media to get the word out to everyone in the area to keep an eye on the skies for a crazy contraption consisting of 23 balloons, a styrofoam mount and a tiny little camera!
On Good Friday I had an email from a girl I sister went to school with, Debbie Deane, saying her husband had found my camera in one of their fields, over 20km from my house! I was speechless. My parents did not know what was going on as I jumped up and down mouthing silently and pointing at the computer. We simply COULD NOT believe someone had found it. I jumped in my car and drove down to collect it, with a smile on my face that was not going to be leaving anytime soon.
I had a great laugh with Debbie and her husband as they told me about how they had been checking up on a sunburnt cow when they spotted the balloon in the field and went to investigate. They then went home, put the memory card in their computer and looked through the photos to see if they could recognize the owner but had no luck. Later, Debbie’s brother arrived, and recognized me straight away! An Easter Miracle!
When I arrived home I couldn’t wait to look at the photos and I was not disappointed! There were over 900 photos of the Cork country side, as the camera took a photo every 2 seconds on its crazy adventure in the sky. Next thing I knew I had National Newspapers contacting me, saying they wanted to publish the story! You can read the Irish Examiner article HERE, and the Irish Independent article HERE.
My friends could not believe my good luck and one remarked, “You come home for 1 week and you make the papers!” Life really is one big adventure. :)
Mapping the balloons journey from my house to Innishannon
Who is Joseph Kony? Kony is a Ugandan guerrilla group leader, and head of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is known to have abducted and forced more than 30,000 children to fight for them, turning young boys into child soldiers and forcing them to kill their own parents or face death themselves, as well as turning young girls into sex slaves. This is not new, this has been going on for over a decade!!
What is Kony 2012? KONY 2012 is a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice. The time has come for us to unite and make it known that this war and this brutal mistreatment of children must end now!
Watching this video sent shivers down my spine and seriously gave me the chills. It is disturbing to see what the children have been through (and are still going through!) but also uplifting that we as ‘the people of the internet’ have the power to make a change and stop this war. We can make all the difference. Don’t ask “Who am I to stop a war?” Instead ask yourself, “Who am I not to?!”.
So as to give a balanced blog post that does not simply regurgitate a video shared on my facebook wall, I would like to direct you to the blog ‘Visible Children’, which gives a critical review of the Kony 2012 campaign. The post talks about Invisible Children as an organisation, the break down of their finances, whether military intervention is such a good idea and how ‘reliable’ their statistics are. The last paragraph of their review really stood out to me and I think it’s something we should keep in mind.
“If you want to write to your Member of Parliament or your Senator or the President or the Prime Minister, by all means, go ahead. If you want to post about Joseph Kony’s crimes on Facebook, go ahead. But let’s keep it about Joseph Kony, not KONY 2012.”
Breaking news from the BBC (HERE) has just announced that Kim Jong Il,69, the ruthless dictator of North Korea has died. He is reported to have passed away while travelling on a train earlier today.
I wonder how this monumental event will affect relations between North and South Korea considering reports this morning say that the military have been put on high alert after news of his death was announced. With over 1.7 million troops from the two Koreas and the US army already squaring off every day, this event threatens to be a dangerous one.
Kim Jong Ils third son, Kim jong Un, who was made a high ranking general earlier this year, is thought to be his successor. But will he rule with same ruthlessness and skill as his now deceased father? Or will this event finally allow for access,and in time recovery, of this secluded and severely damaged nation?
Only time will tell.
Kim Jong Il, who died today aged 69