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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid