Foreign businesspeople say business is usual

Despite the tension between North and South Korea being at an all time high on news that the Stalinist state is preparing for a medium-range missile test, foreign businessmen here are not agitated but are doing business as usual.

James Rooney, CEO of Market Force Company, said it was time for South Korea and its allies to expect the “unexpected” as tension continue to escalate.

“I am expecting not a single, but multiple missile launches from the east coast; around three to four of them,” he said. “It will be an interesting thing to watch whether they fire them simultaneously or one at a time, though I expect the former since it will maximize the dramatic impact.”

Short range missiles will fall into the East Sea, and the long range ones will go over Japan, which will be quite “dramatic and will get everyone’s attention,” he said.

The CEO expects a “surprise” hostile move, similar to the sinking of the Naval ship Cheona and the shelling of islands near the west coast, that authorities were unprepared for, as Kim Jong-un continues with bellicose rhetoric to show off his leadership.

Some foreigners were less comfortable with the situation, however, and are mulling preparations of war. “I’m getting more nervous as I see a noticeable increase in reports on South-North tension,” said Han Hepburn, a lawyer working for a local oil refinery and who has been stayed in Korea for around a year-and-a-half. “It didn’t feel too real before, but now I’m seriously considering what kind of pragmatic preparations I should be making.”

She said that one of her colleagues within the company was stockpiling food and buying portable bags in case of an emergency, while she was mainly concerned about where to evacuate to.

“Once again this is brinkmanship. The odds are it is going to be unarmed,” said Bryan Hopkins, a professor at Sejong University’s graduate school of business, by telephone. “Tensions are increasing, yes, but it is just more or less brinkmanship on the part of the North.

“I just continue my life as is, and most American expats are likely doing the same with regards to work and everything else. I’ve made no arrangement to leave Seoul,” he said.