A University of California, San Diego (UCSD) graduate and South Korean citizen who served in the country's army says the U.S. military's presence in the region is an important deterrent when it comes to tension in the region.
Ricky Lee, a UCSD graduate with a degree in economics, served in South Korea's Republic of Korea Army prior to arriving in the U.S. to study.
During that two-year period in the infantry, he said, the military prepared for their neighbor to the north.
"The military, they're always ready for whatever the threats that North Korea's doing," Lee explained. "We do all kinds of trainings to prepare for this kind of situation."
He said the military got a good look at the military capabilities of North Korea.
“Not only missiles, but those mortars and artillery in the system can also level Seoul at any moment," Lee said.
People who serve in the Korean Army have always been well aware of the threat from North Korea, but everyone is now paying closer attention in light of missile tests and nuclear tests. The U.S. has moved the San Diego-based Carrier Strike Group, including USS Carl Vinson, back to the Korean Peninsula.
Lee said his sister has been talking to him about leaving the country, before making the decision to stay.
“The fact that she said that, kind of made me feel a little anxious about what's going on in Korea," Lee said.
Lee said he hopes that a newly elected president in South Korea can open constructive talks to address North Korea's nuclear threat.