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The latest round

January 15, 2012

To bring everyone up to date:

Leave or stay?

Something big (a hydrogen explosion?) happened at Fukushima on 9 January and sent fresh plumes of radioactivity drifting east:

http://fukushima-diary.com/2012/01/hydrogen-explosion-reactor-4-happened-1-9-2012/

Cpm readings went up sharply just afterward at sites in the western US, especially Denver. You can see selected city figures at the following Energy News discussion thread:

http://enenews.com/forum-post-radiation-monitoring-data-dec-17-2011-present

Mere coincidence? Probably not.

Coincidence. That word brings to mind the symptoms I’ve had at one time or another since late May:

– Persistent sore throat and frequent headache;

– Lethargy;

– Upper respiratory infection, followed by temporary paralysis of the colon;

– About a month of strong pain in the left hip;

– Irritated eyes, plus a small hemorrhage inside the right eyeball, which left vision on the right side blurry for weeks;

– Unexplained bruising on the right foot … et cetera.

The parade of symptoms began 10 weeks after 3/11. That is the same interval observed between the meltdowns and the onset of behavioral symptoms such as lethargy in Japanese birds.

(Take a close look at those birds. They let humans approach them — and even pick them up — without trying to fly away. Video at: http://enenews.com/fukushima-birds-unable-fly-allow-humans-approach-like-sickened-alaska-seals-video)

Just coincidence? Again, I doubt it.

Granted, not all the symptoms of radiation sickness have shown up. No gastrointestinal upsets or bleeding gums. My remaining hair hasn’t started falling out … yet.

But should I remain in Seoul long enough to see if those symptoms develop too?

Here we go again. From an earlier post, you may remember the debate inside me, between my cautious side, “C,” and resigned side, “S” (so called for the Japanese expression shikata ga nai, meaning, roughly, “it can’t be helped” or “there’s no avoiding it”).

They confront each other almost daily. The latest round went something like this:

C: That’s an ugly bruise. How did it happen?

S: No idea. Lately, I’ve put no extraordinary demands on that foot.

C: You know bruising is a sign of radiation sickness.

S: But I’ve had foot bruises many times before.

C: Accompanied by those other symptoms? And all of them following a quadruple meltdown right next door?

S: But I’ve had no clinical diagnosis of radiation sickness.

C: Nor are you likely to get one. Just try getting doctors in this part of the world to contemplate it.

S: Good point.

C: Here’s one even better. Remember the hip pain?

S: I could barely walk. Before it was over, I came close to developing a pain-killer dependency.

C: Wasn’t that enough? Shouldn’t you get out now?

S: But …

C: Another “but”?!

S: If this is a case of mild radiation sickness, will it matter much at my age?

C: Do I look like a radiation biologist? Anyhow, you know what’s in current reports from Japan. “Mysterious” illnesses. Central nervous system disorders. And so forth.

(See http://enenews.com/japan-journalist-feel-peoples-brain-damage-radiation-happening-faster-expected.  Also:  http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/01/emiko-numauchi-aka-numayu-speaks-up-may.html)

S (shaken): CNS disorders. Hmm. Suppose my thinking gets affected.

C: Maybe it’s happening already. You’ve been terribly passive during this crisis … just like an irradiated bird.

In previous debates, S had won. But this one was a draw.

So: leave or stay?

Leaving Seoul would mean leaving many friends. This has been home for a fourth of my life — the happiest and most productive fourth, too.

Besides, I’ve become attached to Koreans. They’ve been most kind and patient toward an awkward foreigner.

But Koreans themselves are wondering now. Leave or stay?

The other evening, I expressed my concern to a co-worker, a jolly young man whom we’ll call Mr. Kim.

“If I could leave Korea, I would,” he confessed, in a tone less jolly than usual.

There you have it. At least a few Koreans are glancing at the exits too. They’ll have to decide.

So will I.

Meanwhile, if anyone knows of work available elsewhere for an English writer and editor with 35 years’ experience, then please let me know. I’d be most grateful.

Much as I love Seoul, I may need to make a fast exit soon … no matter what gets left behind.

(c) 2012 David Ritchie

(David Ritchie welcomes correspondence and asks only that it be civil in tone. Contact kwriter@asia.com.)

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