San Diego’s South Koreans Breathe Sigh of Relief

Feared dictator’s death triggers emotional response from local South Koreans

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    TK
    AFP/Getty Images
    -, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF: This undated picture received by AFP from the Korean Central News Agency via the Korean News Service, 18 March 2007, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Il applauding servicemen during an inspection of the "Command of Guard Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Tank Division" of the Korean People's Army at an undisclosed location. North Korea said 17 March, 2007 that it had begun preparations to shutdown and seal its key Yongbyon atomic reactor in a step toward honouring a landmark nuclear disarmament deal. Others pictured are unidentified. AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

    South Koreans living in San Diego read the news of Kim Jong Il’s death with shock, and then relief.

    As one South Korean put it, Kim Jong Il was one of the ten most hated dictators in Asia --- perhaps in the world.

    And as images circulate of North Koreans intensely sobbing at the news, South Koreans living in America shared different emotions.

    “It sort of a surprise and a sense of relief he provoked way in South Korea,” said Korean-American David Shims.

    Shims was with friends at a Korean restaurant in Kearny Mesa when he read the headline in a South Korean newspaper.

    Even though he say's Kim's son and successor Kim Jong Un has no experience, he is optimistic there will be change in the North.

    A lecturer in political science at San Diego State University however, says, change is unlikely under what he says a leader who is a puppet of the military.

    “It’s unlikely that he’ll want to compromise if military around him has their way,” said Professor Ron Bee. “It will have to be up to him and that would be a big step forward in leadership for this family.”

    Bee doesn’t think Un will be as violent or feared as his father or grandfather, but agrees with Shims that things may have to change under the new leadership.