When discussing the last week’s crisis on the Korean peninsula, the former South Korean Defense Minister chose a rather interesting metaphor to illustrate the gravity of the situation.
Last Tuesday, tensions on the already-tense Korean peninsula reached a near boiling point when North Korea shelled an island on the South Korean side of things, killing two soldiers and two civilians. 13 minutes later, South Korea reportedly fired multiple test shots in response, though claimed that none of them actually fell in North Korean territory.
When a Korean politician asked then-Defense Minister Kim Tae-young – who later resigned over the handling of the conflict – why the South Korean response had been delayed by 13 minutes and had been (relatively) restrained, Kim gave an answer that might sound odd to non-gamers: “This isn’t StarCraft.”
The remarks were hardly a joke designed to defuse tension – Kim was indeed making a point. In StarCraft, letting an attack go unanswered for 13 minutes is a game-ending mistake. If you don’t counterattack swiftly, your base will be overrun with swarming Zerg or marauding Terrans. In real life, though, a forceful retaliation on the part of Kim might have ignited a real-world bloodbath in which thousands could have lost their lives. This wasn’t a game; this was a very real situation.
If it sounds strange to hear such a prominent figure compare a deadly real-life scenario to a videogame, consider StarCraft‘s prominence in Korea as a sport. Is it really so odd to imagine the US President or UK Prime Minister (or leader of your country of choice) answering a question with “this isn’t football/baseball/basketball/etc.?” It may still be an odd comparison, but it’s not quite so far-fetched.