I've seen several of these by now. Even this time, I was spellbound, although not as shocked as I was the first time. I was in a classroom correcting essays at the time. I opened the window. I stared. I stared some more. There it was, one of the busiest intersections in Bucheon's Jung-Dong neighborhood, still. Twelve traffic lanes. Many buses, both local and to Seoul and to Incheon. Subway station. Two department stores. Restaurants, coffee shops. And always lots of people, either milling around or racing somewhere.
The only thing happening at this intersection from 2:00-2:15 PM yesterday, though, was a bunch of nothing, punctuated by an occasional angry whistle-blow beration (from a policeman) at somebody bold enough to try to cross the street. Crossing the street was forbidden. Stillness was mandatory, except for the siren.
My coworker, C.R., has to cross this busy street to get to work. He sometimes arrives slightly after 2:00 PM. I wondered, as I stared at the scene of Civil Defense serenity below, if he was stuck on the wrong side. My view was blocked by a tree. I peeked in, and he was in the teachers' room (a place I dread being in these days). Lucky him. He's already been threatened for being "late" once. (These are people who generally can't even produce a class schedule on time until the very day a semester starts. Generally we don't know what we'll be teaching till "the day of").
Update: A follow-up post is here: Civil Defense Drill, Part II