I first met Bric Barker in Atlanta, Georgia back in the mid-1980s when he arrived to audition for a one-act play festival at which I was directing one of the plays. Back then he went by the name Ric Barker. Still one of the funniest human beings I have or will ever meet. What is significantly less humorous is the situation in which Bric finds himself today. He sits on the precipice of what may one day come to be termed “The Missiles of April.”
Or does he?
Q: You are an American living and working in what is arguably the single most dangerous spot on the globe circa April 2013. First tell us where you live and what you do there.
Bric Barker: I live in Taichung, Taiwan. I am currently vacationing in South Korea. I teach English at an American-Style Boarding school.
Q: The American mainstream media cannot be trusted to tell us what is really going on around the world. How would you describe what life is like within the missile range of North Korea right now?
Bric Barker: The attitudes I’ve come across in Taiwan are pretty much the same. They’re not too worried because all the saber rattling is about bombing Korea and America. No one really thinks Kim Jong Un is stupid enough to do what he threatens; however, they do believe he’s crazy enough to want to go down in history as the man who attacked America. As for life here in this shadow…people just can’t stress about what a madman might do. So whether it’s denial or blind apathy who knows?
Q: Speaking of misinformation: American media tells us that N. Korea’s missiles can possibly reach about as far Guam. What’s the word on Korean missile capability from the media over there?
Bric Barker: I’m not really one to ask about the media’s coverage as I rarely watch the news. But I’ll tell you my boarding school senior trip destination going to Guam. This should make their lives more interesting.
Q: Amid media reports on the the first weekend of April 2013 that range from Kim Jong Un’s sabre-rattling being no more of a threat than Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD to fears that he was going to target, of all places, Austin, Texas, you actually took a vacation to the DMZ and stumbled into North Korean territory. A lot of people here would think you crazed. Just how tense was the situation on the border?
Bric Barker: The situation on the border was professional, but did not seem particularly intense. The Republic of Korea (South Korea) soldiers were serious, yet courteous. Our tour guide expressed some curiosity as well about why we’d chosen this time to visit. For us it was simple: Spring Vacation. Kim Jong Un’s having made empty threats in the past certainly played into our decision not to cancel the trip. Most people here think he’s a joke. But what they know for sure is the millions of North Koreans whose lives are horrible have nothing to lose from a crazy move by their leader. It’s like Jim Jones all over about to dish out some nuclear Kool-Aid.
Q: And, finally, if you were going to write a rock opera about your experiences in the Mysterious Orient, what you title it?
Bric Barker: Madame Iron Butterfly.