Koreans Relatively Calm Over 2012 Apocalypse
By Ines Min
2012 Apocalypse? Probably not.
This is one mindset for Koreans, whose thoughts jump to the upcoming film starring John Cusack rather than the schools of thought theorizing the end of the world.
An exponentially growing number of apocalypse believers around the world have been stirring up the masses online with theories of planets colliding with the Earth and natural disasters. Korean media has covered the topic, but many don't seem to be bothered.
"I don't think there's any reason to believe it," said 27-year-old Paco Won about the apocalyptic theories.
"People just see 2012 as a movie," he added.
Kim Jeong-yun, a 21-year-old student at Kyung Hee University said most people know about the theories, but don't put much stock in them.
"I think it'll pass and nothing will happen," she said. "People don't think or worry about it during daily life."
A quick search for "2012" on Google's blog search engine in six languages shows that the interest of Koreans online has not been piqued like that of those in other countries.
The search garnered more than 1.2 million English-language hits, when surveyed in October, compared with 5,242 Korean hits. The Spanish-language search had the second-highest number with more than 54,000, with French, Japanese and Russian following.
Extending the search period back to 2000 shuffled the order a bit, but hits in English still outranked the others by millions, while Korean blogs continued to have the lowest number.
The doomsday prophecies found surges of worried followers in the United States, where NASA scientist David Morrison has had to broach the subject online to help quell the misinformation and fear-mongering.
"Two years ago, I got a question a week about it," Morrison was quoted as saying by The Los Angeles Times Oct. 17.
"Now I'm getting a dozen a day. Two teenagers said they didn't want to see the end of the world so they were thinking of ending their lives."
The scientist, who hosts the Web site "Ask an Astrobiologist," said the worries were groundless. He debunks the plethora of theories on his site and also posted a list of answers to common questions on the Astronomical Society of the Pacific site (http://www.astrosociety.org).
One of the major components of the apocalyptic theories resides on the fact that the Mayan calendar ends after 2012.
Morrison confronts the matter in-depth in his online posts, with simple common sense and a touch of humor.
"The calendar on my desk ends on December 31, 2009," he said. "I do not interpret that to mean the world is going to end that day."