APPT Seoul Day 1A: Elephant in the room
There is an elephant in the room.
Not a literal one, however much excitement that might add to Day 1a of APPT Seoul.
No, I'm talking the old expression that says there is something obvious that is currently being unaddressed or simply ignored.
Or maybe that's just the way I see it and it's a topic that doesn't need to be addressed. No more beating around the bush... I'm talking about South Korea and its proximity and overall relationship to North Korea.
I will be the first to admit that I'm an unschooled, somewhat naïve westerner when it comes to topics like the politics of old feuds such as that of the relationship between North and South Korea.
But I will say, coming from a country like Australia which is sometimes rife with media reports of ongoing tension between the Koreas, it is a topic which is hard to ignore.
And it's even harder to ignore when you have a flight booked for a Tuesday and on Monday your Twitter feed explodes with headlines such as "North and South Korea exchange live fire" and "Tension flares after North and South Korea exchange bullets"
So, I'm a naïve Aussie with a flight to South Korea in less than 24 hours and I'm reading reports like this. Can you blame me if it made me worry just a little? My first reaction was something along the lines of, "Well not keen to go to South Korea now."
But then I remember that there were media reports like this last year right before APPT Seoul and similar reports the year before. A little bit of Googling and there have been minor disputes like this for the last 50 years. Throw in the fact that I have always considered my trip to APPT Seoul one of the best experiences of my working career and I wasn't going to miss it.
But still, photos like the one above don't excite me before heading on a work trip to the very country where the tanks were said to be firing. Being near tanks wouldn't be nearly as exciting as modern-day video games would like us to believe.
However, remembering back to 2012 when I was here last, the local staff informed me that a lot of these media reports around the world are almost always over exaggerated.
The media exaggerating about something? Surely not!
I had a quick chat to one of the PokerStars team here in the Asia Pacific, South Korean local Dom Choi, and asked him what he thought about this weeks' media reports.
"It was nothing here, was barely news," Choi said. "Something like this happens every year around this time because of the annual South Korea military practice with the US. We all hear about it and it's news, but not big news and there has never been any actual public panic after something like this."
If there is no panic in South Korea, then there certainly shouldn't be any around the rest of the world.
In the end, overblown media reports like this didn't scare me away from coming to South Korea and I'm glad they didn't. As soon as I arrived here I was greeted by an amazingly efficient airport staff, hugely friendly people, beautiful Cherry Blossoms, typical of Seoul, and one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world.
And being here means I can watch the latest APPT Seoul champion be crowned!
Maybe that champion will be someone like Matt "mjw006" Wakeman, PokerStars Team Online Naoya Kihara or reigning champ Aaron Lim as all of these players are doing well during the latest stages of Day 1a.
Speaking of Lim, he recently spoke to PokerStars.tv hostess Laura Cornelius.