Who Still Faxes?

The more time I spend in South Korea, the more I realize that the two Koreas aren’t so different deep down. On the surface, they seem like different worlds. South Koreans enjoy a first-world standard of living that includes almost all western amenities (except clothes dryers, damnit). North Korea, on the other hand, is famous for two things – starvation and crazy. But the most recent incident in the ongoing feud between the two nations shows that they are more alike than appearances indicate.

In response to an anti-North Korea demonstration, Pyongyang sent a fax to the South Korean defense ministry on Thursday. The fax warned of, “a merciless retaliation without warning.” I can’t decide what’s more funny, the fact that they sent a fax, or that the fax warned of attack without warning.

Evolution of the Fax Machine

The incident should have ended here. South Korea is far more technologically advanced than North Korea, their GPD is 80 times larger, and they have a sizable chunk of the world’s most powerful military camped out in their front yard. Dignifying such craziness with a response would be akin to arguing with a kid on the internet.

Well, that’s exactly what South Korea’s defense ministry did. Instead of having a good laugh and adding the fax to their “crazy” file, Seoul responded in kind. According to a defense ministry spokesman, South Korea answered with their own fax, “vowing to respond sternly to any provocation.”

Because they look so different on the surface, it’s easy to forget that these two countries haven’t been separated for very long. Despite the south’s rapid evolution, episodes like this serve as a reminder that the two countries aren’t quite as different as they would have us believe.

Until next time.


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