"Beeeeeeeeeeep!" says my phone.
"!$#$!," I say, and shout "Stop it at my phone."
It's a familiar sound associated closely with cartoon interruptions, "This a test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test" and the less frequent actual tornado warning. South Korea sent me it's first emergency alert text a few months ago at about 2Am. I awakened, stared groggily at my phone, saw a message all in Korean, and decided that if North Korea was attacking South Korea, I'd hear about in the morning. A week later I remembered to ask what my text said. It was a Mers health advisory.
The emergency alert texts have been picking up of late. Today we got two separate ones five minutes apart with a heat advisory in two different provinces. The whole office was buzzing as all of our phones when off and we all uttered sounds of annoyance.
South Korea really hasn't thought this out. For example, a heat advisory is not an emergency. Texting heat advisories is not a bad things but combining it with the emergency alert sound... the old story of the boy who cried wolf, only this time it's a nation. And what happens when there's a real emergency? People will be so used to ignoring their phone when they hear that sound, they'll look at the message when it's convenient or delete it without looking, rendering what could be a great system pointless.
M.R. Jordan is a writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. Lives in South Korea with her two cats, Bear and Geumbi.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Gold in English)... then (above) and now (below).