Metro

Local Korean-Americans worry as tensions rise between US and N. Korea

A man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017. North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be the North's most provocative missile launch to date. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press

A man watched a TV showing President Trump and Kim Jong Un in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday.

Members of the small Korean community in Massachusetts are dismayed and worried as they watch the escalating rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, including President Trump’s recent threats to bring down unprecedented “fire and fury” on the East Asian dictatorship.

Experts say any kind of conflict between the US and North Korea could also result in massive destruction within US ally South Korea.

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“We are very concerned about Mr. Trump’s hard-line comment,” said Myong Sool Chang, editor of Boston Korea, which publishes about 4,300 copies and has about 3,000 to 5,000 regular visitors to its website.

“Korean-Americans have monitored this situation very closely and hope this . . . is solved peacefully,” Chang said. “We can’t afford another war in the Korean Peninsula, and we can’t even imagine the war. It will be a real disaster to all the world.”

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“I think the only way to avoid this situation is talk,” he said.

War on the Korean peninsula has “got to be avoided,” said Song K. Kim, chairman of the board of the Korean-American Citizens League of New England, which has about 600 members. “That’s not the solution at all.”

Kim said he supported tightening sanctions against North Korea.

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He also said he sympathized with the innocent people in the hermit kingdom who are “miserable” under Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Korea was split into two countries after the World War II defeat of Japan, which had been occupying the country.

North and South Koreans “look the same. The language is the same. We use the same Korean alphabet... and the culture is the same,” except for the oppressive regimes North Korea has labored under, said Kim.

He said the dictator is young and feels defensive and insecure, and the country is “always bluffing” about its military intentions.

“I don’t know why Trump is overreacting in front of the baby,” he said. “I don’t know why Mr. Trump reacted that way.”

About 26,000 people of Korean ancestry live in Massachusetts, according to the 2010 US Census.

Trump’s dire threat on Tuesday, which was quickly followed by a North Korean threat against the US territory of Guam, also sent a shudder through Asia, among allies and adversaries. Trump’s top diplomat and defense chief sent a more moderate message on Wednesday.

Trump continued his threatening rhetoric against North Korea on Thursday, saying that perhaps his earlier “fire and fury” statement “wasn’t tough enough.”

“If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about attack of anybody that we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous. I’ll tell you why. And they should be very nervous. Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?” he said.

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