By David Cruz
Every new day brings more bellicose rhetoric from North Korea. While the United Nations has called on the country to stand down from its threatening posture, the North Koreans say the Americans are the provocateurs. In Palisades Park, where the country’s largest concentration of Korean-Americans lives, the general response seems to be, this again? Andrew Kim works here as an insurance agent. He believes that once the current rhetoric loses its heat, North Korea will actually open up.
“They can’t be isolated [for] so long, and right now they’re trying to threaten a little harder than before, but look around the world; any country that is threatening, and not cooperating with the world order, they’re going to be crumpled eventually,” says Kim.
Korean-American community activist Michael Yun says he doesn’t believe the North Koreans are capable of pulling off the kind of military strike they threaten. Still, he says this latest tension follows a pattern he’s seen his whole life, with one major exception.
“Years ago, when North Korea threatened South Korea or the United States, in those days, North Korea had no nuclear missiles,” he notes. “Today, it seems like they’re well on their way to having a nuclear missile in their hands, so they’re in a different situation.”
John Chang has seen the threat from North Korea up close as an officer in the South Korean Navy; he says he believes the current situation presents an opportunity.
“If you cannot destroy the Kim family’s government, then we have to talk and then make friends, and also rather than dropping the bombs in North Korea, hopefully we are dropping McDonald’s and Coca-Cola,” he says. “That would be very powerful and help to make change in North Korea.”
The call and response of this conflict has been a part of everyday life for Korean-Americans going on three generations now. No one we spoke to today expects a serious military conflict, but as one person put it, every day we spend talking about war is one less day we spend talking about peace.