Monday, November 07, 2005

Boared Again

Yesterday the Chosun Ilbo posted a hilarious article titled "Seoul Trembles at Wild Boar Invasion". If this isn't a perfect example of "Blowing it all out of proportion", I don't know what is:
The capital is under threat from an unlikely invasion after wild boars were sighted at several locations around the metropolitan area. Last month there were repeated sightings at the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel; now a den that is home to scores of the aggressive beasts has been discovered in Achasan. [...]

The mountain in the Achasan area is closed to civilians because it houses an emergency oil reserve, and its thick oak and chestnut cover make it an ideal habitat for the animals. "It appears that rogue males that were kicked out of the group due to territorial fights left in search of food and territory of their own," Seoul City said.
Well, there is some new information there, about the den in Achasan. But those 'repeated sightings' near the Walkerhill Hotel were of the same animal on the same day (the one that drowned). Before it gets more ridiculous, the article does provide a new nugget of information about the Guri 'invasion' last Thursday:
In the Guri area of Gyeonggi Province, which borders Achasan, a boar entered a subterranean parking lot on Oct. 27, ramming a parked car and romping around for a while before disappearing back into the woods.
I didn't know it had rammed a parked car, though I'm curious to know just how much damage was done, and whether it was covered by insurance. What with 2 cars damaged by boars in the last week or so, perhaps a new 'wild boar damage' clause will appear in car insurance coverage. At any rate, here's the winning paragraph:
On Oct. 24, wild boars showed up in Changkyong Palace, sending more than 300 visitors scampering for shelter, and on Oct. 19, there were several sightings of wild boars near the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill Hotel in Gwangjang-dong, Seoul. On Sept. 29, wild boars had ventured as far as Amsa-dong on the Han river and injured two people.
Let's see. Scampering for shelter? That sounds somewhat different from the Joongang Ilbo article which read, "palace administrators evacuated the 300 visitors on the grounds". Then it mentions the Oct. 19 sightings of "wild boars" (again, there was only one), and then describes the first incursion by a wild boar on Sept. 29, once again portraying the single boar as plural. Last week's Reuters article mislead readers into thinking the 'invasion' was much larger than it actually was, as it straightforwardly described 3 of the 4 incidents, and then described aspects of those incidents, referring to "sightings in apartment-block gardens, schools and underground parking lots" as being in addition to, or separate from, those 3 incidents. The Chosun Ilbo, however, takes things a step further by making the boar in each incident into 'boars', which is a little more dishonest. And if we can't trust the Chosun to be honest about wild pigs, what can we trust them to be honest about?

At least they provide some advice on dealing with the invaders:
Experts say an encounter with wild boars, which can weigh hundreds of kilograms, is a frightening moment, but if people keep calm they stand a good chance of escaping unhurt.

The most important thing, they say, is never to turn your back, since the beasts have weak eyesight and may not realize that you are running away, while moving objects upset them.
Is it just me, or does "stand a good chance of escaping unhurt" sound a little... less than positive?
They are large, heavy, hooved animals, and they do have some sharp teeth (though I questioned (in the comment section of the last post) whether Korean boars had the same teeth seen in other, foreign species, the second photo on this page seems to answer the question) , but when you consider that one ran around an apartment complex for 90 minutes and no one got hurt, maybe you're more likely to escape unharmed than not.

And while both the Chosun and the Korea Times tell us not to turn our backs or run away, respectively, the Chosun tells us that boars have weak eyesight, and the Times tells us that we should look straight into the boar’s eyes, which seems a tad contradictory.. Who is correct? Perhaps only an encounter with one of the porcine (my new favourite adjective) invaders will provide the answer. And if the Chosun Ilbo is to be believed, that encounter could happen at any time.

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