President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un aren’t on the best terms. After the North conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, the United States and the United Nations passed sanctions against the reclusive nation, which has stoked an ever-escalating war of words between Trump and Kim.
On Monday, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said the U.S.’s decision to fly bombers in international airspace to the east of North Korea, along with a series of tweets Trump posted over the weekend saying that North Korea won’t be around much longer, amounted to a declaration of war.
Needless to say, the saber rattling, coupled with North Korea’s stated objective of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, have plenty of people on edge.
And nowhere is that clearer than in the number of nuclear fallout shelters being purchased here in the U.S.
“We’re probably upwards of 1,000% from this time last year,” Gary Lynch, general manager of Rising S Company said of the number of bunkers his company has sold in 2017.
A size for everyone (sort of)
Texas-based Rising S Company, whose tagline is “Safe until the rising sun,” a nod to the Christian belief that the Second Coming of Christ will precede the end of the world, offers bunkers in a variety of price ranges. The base model is an 8 x 12-foot mini bunker for $39,500 while the top-of-the-line “The Aristocrat” luxury bunker, which features a bowling alley, gym, gun range, green house, pool and garage, goes for $8,350,000.
Sharon Packer, CEO of Utah-based Underground Shelters USA, says her company has seen sales of bunkers triple this year, with a significant increase taking place in the last six months. Packer, a nuclear engineer, says her company’s shelters can survive being within 1/4 of a mile from the blast crater of a 1-megaton nuclear bomb.
Underground’s best-selling shelter costs about $70,000 and gets you about 32 x 10 feet of space. Packer says you’d be able to stay in one of her company’s shelters for as long as you have access to clean water.
Brian Duvaul, sales manager with American Safe Room, a bunker company based in Oregon, explained that sales generally slow down around fall and winter as the ground becomes difficult to dig, but that so far this fall, sales are looking up.
“Definitely North Korea,” Duvaul said. “Everyone is saying North Korea.”
“In the winter and going into the fall, we see fewer people wanting to dig a big hole. This fall we haven’t seen a slow down. In fact, we have an increase.”
Japan is buying more
Of course, the fear of nuclear war is far more real closer to North Korea, particularly in Japan, which has seen two missiles from the communist country pass through its airspace and is the only nation to ever be attacked with nuclear weapons.
According to Lynch, Rising S Company has seen a surge of interest from Japanese purchasers.
“Most of these shelters are being exported to Japan,” Lynch said. “We just took an order for 300 shelters going to Japan.”
Packer noted a similar trend, saying that her company has had requests for shelters from Japan, and is currently in contract negotiations with purchasers in the country.
Hopefully, though, these shelters will end up being nothing more than expensive storage spaces for holiday decorations 11 months out of the year and never used for their intended purposes.
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Email Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.