Korean community in Palisades Park reacts to latest North Korea threats

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

At the United Nations Monday, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told the security council that U.S. patience is not endless.

“Kim Jong Un’s actions are not defensive, his use of missiles shows he’s begging for war,” said Haley, “Only the strongest sanctions will enable us to resolve this problem through diplomacy. We have kicked the can down the road long enough. There is no more road left.”

The United States may announce a ban on trade with countries doing business with North Korea, as well.

This weekend, North Korea is believed to have tested its largest nuclear device yet. That test followed North Korea’s firing of a missile over Japanese airspace.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said that any military act against the U.S. or its allies will be met with unrelenting force.

“Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming,” Mattis said at a press conference Sunday. “We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.”

Bergen County has a large Korean-American population estimated at 34,000. And, those who spoke with NJTV News in Palisades Park say this time the situation with North Korea is far more concerning than it has been in recent years.

“It has been going on for a long time,” said Midland Park resident Michelle Kang. “But now, he’s doing action. Before it was threats, now it’s action.”

More than half of the residents of Palisades Park are Korean-American, evidenced by the signs on store fronts.

James Choi runs a taxi company and says it’s up to the U.S. and China to find a solution.

“North Korea is out of its mind, crazy,” said Choi. “I hope China works together with the U.S. It’s the only way to solve the problem.”

But not all blame the current tense situation solely on North Korea’s leader. Some say President Trump’s rhetoric is making it worse.

“We worry about the United States, actually. We worry that President Trump expresses aggressive things and that’s more scary to us,” said Palisades Park resident Dogyon Kang.

And, one college student who was passing through from Virginia, and declined to give his name to NJTV News, said Americans have to also see it from North Korea’s point of view.

“I understand from a North Korean point of view, that it’s a smart move on their part. If they’re a poor country and they want to stay relevant, then having a nuclear weapon is the smartest option,” he said.

While people in Palisades Park say they worry for their relatives in South Korea, they also say Koreans have witnessed the bluster of the north before, and many believe it will again blow over because the world has so few options.