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Seoul Residents Respond to North Korean Threats

South Korean Marines and U.S. Marines from 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force based Okinawa, Japan, take positions near Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV) during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises called Ssangyong 2013 as part of their two-month-long

Since the beginning of 2016, there have been significant discussions about North Korea’s human rights situation, its weapons programs, and the sanctions placed on the country by the United Nations.

Politicians, military officials, and analysts from research organizations have shared their views and opinions about the events on the Korean peninsula, but what of those who live in South Korea’s capital of Seoul?

What Seoul Residents Think About North Korean Threats - VOA Asia Weekly
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Kim Geon-hee, a 16-year-old student told VOA, “I don’t think the [present] policies are working. In the past and now, we have been pushing for our own policies (South Korea), but North Korea’s reactions show those policies are ineffective. The South Korean government should make [new policies].”

Another Seoul resident, Jung Hae-young, added, “In my opinion, it doesn’t seem that the South Korean government really thought about [their] policies. Instead of being concerned about the diplomatic situation and relations with North Korea, the government [Park Geun-hye administration] is only focusing on how to maintain itself. The government is careless about whether the policies are effective or not.”

Lee Ba-woo, a 55-year-old artist, doesn’t feel that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is threatening, but rather Kim’s way of thinking is dangerous.“ Just like we had kings in the old days,” said Lee, “We can see that Kim has some problems with the way he views situations. Because of his background, he thinks narrow-mindedly.”

South Korea has announced the government will deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system to counter Pyongyang’s continued provocative actions.But the decision has been met with protests.

“We are just in the middle of the power game between China and the United States,” says Lee Dong-won, a 32-year-old office worker. “The decision of the THAAD deployment was made so easily. I don’t know if we had enough discussions,” he said.

Despite Kim Jong Un’s threats of using nuclear weapons, Lee Ba-woo isn’t concerned. “There will be no nuclear war because it could also threaten North Korea. It’s a show. They want something from America. They are playing with America.China also says to stop. If North Korea continues provocations, maybe America will bomb their facilities first,” said Lee.

Recent satellite imagery suggests North Korea may be preparing for a missile or nuclear test, events that could change opinions and the tension level on the peninsula.

Reporter Bruce Harrison in Seoul contributed to this story.

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    Steve Miller

    Steve Miller is a veteran broadcast journalist with over a decade of experience. He is currently the host of VOA's Flashpoint Ukraine daily radio program, going beyond the headlines to put the day's events into a broader, global context. Before coming to VOA in 2016, Steve  covered the Indo-Pacific region while living in South Korea, where he explored the region's rich history and culture while reporting on geopolitics, human rights, and tourism.