'Korea feels colder than Greenland'
“I’ve been freezing while I’ve been in Korea,” said Karsten Peter Jensen, 27, a political-science student from Greenland. “Last month, when Korea was minus 16 and minus 18 degrees Celsius, in Greenland, it was around minus 5 degrees.”
Jensen arrived in Korea in mid-November for an internship opportunity preparing for the visit of a delegation from Greenland. It was the biggest visit by Greenlanders led by its Premier Kuupik Kleist. Jensen’s job was to help with the preparations together with Danish Embassy officials and to follow up with business contacts made during their stay after their return.
The delegation was on a five-day visit in December, and reached out to Korean companies to attract them to develop the island’s natural resources, a new opportunity made by rising global temperatures.
Jensen said Greenlanders are rather divided about the new potential.
“Not everyone is excited. Some want to take the new opportunity, and others are not so comfortable with it.”
Born and having grown up on the island, Jensen has borne witness to and feels the consequences of climate change.
“I can feel it’s now slightly warmer,” he said.
More apparent are ice fjords on the coast that are getting smaller and an increasing number of polar bears near Nuuk, the capital where he’s from.
“We never used to see them at all. But for the last four to five years, we had five polar bears outside the city,” he said. “People say they drifted on the ice. They’re really dangerous. They’re out there to get something to eat, and when they see human beings, they don’t care that it’s a human.”
That keeps law enforcement officers busy keeping them away from the city. But “when they get closer, they have to call an experienced hunter to shoot them.”
Jensen’s two-month contract is up, and he is flying home today.
He takes home a few impressive images, one of which is a subway train that’s so packed with people. “We only have 56,000 people in Greenland, and you never see anything like this.”
He bought T-shirts and pairs of socks with picture of Psy on them for his friends and colleagues. For himself, he bought a set of tea cups and traditional bowls, which are “more Korean than a Psy shirt.”