"The thought of a nuclear strike against the city has probably crossed the minds of all Seoulites (it has mine), but I don't think anyone believes it is really possible," he says. "The feeling here is that even with rhetoric escalated to the current level, nuclear weapons will only be used as leverage by the North."
"Generally, for my surprise, people doesn't care that much about [Kim Jong Un's] threat," Shin Woong-Jae, a photojournalist, said via email. Most South Koreans don't think the North Korean leader has the "guts to push the button" but is rather playing a game to establish a reputation as a strong military leader, Shin added.
Foreman says he was reassured by the U.S. deployment of a Missouri-based B-2 Spirit Bomber that flew over South Korea March 28 and two F-22 Raptors that were moved to a South Korean base from Japan March 31.
"Photos of the B-2 bombers appeared on the front pages of newspapers here the day after they flew over. Many people I talked to were impressed that the planes flew here from Missouri, and not from some base in the Pacific," he says.
"The fact that the planes took off in the Midwest, flew all the way to the Korean peninsula, dropped fake bombs and then flew back sends a very clear message: We can reach you with no trouble, Foreman says. "You will not see us coming. Our planes are nuclear-capable. The flights were definitely meant to intimidate the North."
Shin says these missions were "nothing but a 'reply' from the U.S. to North Korea," adding that "we sense that tension is high this time."
Pentagon spokesman George Little said Monday the Raptors are "on static display at Osan Air Base as part of the Foal Eagle exercise to provide bilateral training for the U.S. and ROK military and to provide South Korean senior leaders with an orientation to the aircraft, which are an advanced capability that is available for the defense of South Korea."