News / Asia

    S. Korea Calls for Calm Following Kim Jong Il Death

    South Koreans read about the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at a Seoul train station on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The headline reads "The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il."
    South Koreans read about the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at a Seoul train station on Monday, Dec. 19, 2011. The headline reads "The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il."
    Jason Strother

    The South Korean government is calling for calm following the death of North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il. The announcement today by the North Korea’s official broadcasting service caught most South Koreans by surprise and now casts uncertainty over future engagement with Pyongyang.

    Slideshow: World Reacts to Kim Jong Il's Death


    The South Korean government called an emergency cabinet meeting immediately following the announcement. Even though Kim Jong Il was rumored to be ill for some years, almost everyone here was caught off guard.    

    During a briefing, Choi Bo-sun, media secretary of the South Korean Ministry Unification, said the government is following protocol.

    He says the way the government needs to cope with this type of crisis is already laid out in the ministry’s manual. A monitoring team will watch all developments related to North Korea. 

    In a separate statement, President Lee Myung Bak urges citizens to be calm and carry on their normal lives.

    In Seoul, most South Koreans appeared to be heeding the president’s words.

    Despite the uncertainty Kim Jong Ils death casts on the future of North-South engagement as well as ongoing efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, many people here are unconcerned about developments up north.

    Yu Mi Hyun, 25, who first heard about the news today at the office, says she didn't think it was a big deal at first. But after talking with friends in the military, she now thinks the situation is serious and needs to be watched.

    Seong, 56, seems more concerned about how KimJong Il’s death will effect the South Korean economy. He says there are going to be a lot of changes in the markets because of this and that all sectors will be affected.  

    Seong has reason to be concerned. When news broke of Kim Jong-il’s death, South Korea’s KOSPI index dropped by 3.2 percent.

    Even if many South Koreans seem apathetic to the developments in North Korea, one segment of the population is watching closely.  

    For many in the 22,000-strong community of North Korean defectors, Kim Jong-il’s death is long-awaited good news.

    Kim Hung-kwan is president of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, an organization comprised of former government figures, academics and others who have defected to the south. He says it's too early to determine if Kim Jong-il’s death will result in any changes for the better.

    Kim Hung-kwan believes the North will either become more open to the international community, or more militarized under a dictatorship that's more dangerous than before.      

    He believes now is the time to reach out to North Koreans and counter Pyongyang’s official propaganda about their late ruler. Kim Hung-kwan says that, for defectors like him, the trip back to their hometowns in the North might be getting closer.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    The Complicated Math of AIDS

    Billions are spent on AIDS prevention, research, treatment — and major events like the International AIDS Conference. Activists say victims of the disease are paying for these costs.

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora