A Canadian friend touches my arm apprehensively. "So, explain to me again why my mom shouldn't be freaking out."
This is a request I receive from a colleague daily, even though they are no less in Korea than I am. They can just as easily walk outside and see how not-serious the native population is taking this "crisis." I tell my friend the same thing.
"I know, and what you say makes sense. Still, my mom watches the news, and..."
"... and it would help to have some talking points to bring back to your mom."
The reasons I give her can just as easily be found with some light digging. A quick Internet search of "North Korea + nuclear diplomacy" will show that the situation in North Korea is not at all a new development.
Here's the deal: South Korea is always in a state of war with its Northern neighbor. Today is no different from yesterday, last year, or even 10 years ago. Tomorrow, next week, next year will follow the same pattern.
No country involved in the region wants a hot war, and yet none of those countries really want reunification of the Koreas either. A subtle background of quiet tension between the two Koreas works best for regional stability, and once we're past this current bout of saber-rattling it's to that state that the Koreas will return.
South Korean residents know this, and very few are taking the current situation seriously.
But don't take my word for it. Below are a few faces of Seoul, all taken over the past weekend: