San Diego

San Diego's Korean-American Community on Edge After Threat of Nuclear Attack

“It’s the most serious I've ever seen in the last few decades,” John Lim, President of San Diego Korean Chamber of Commerce, said

North Korea has scaled back its threats of a nuclear attack, but several within San Diego’s Korean-American community are still on edge.

John Lim, President of San Diego Korean Chamber of Commerce, said that even though nuclear threats aren’t new, this recent tension feels different.

“It’s the most serious I've ever seen in the last few decades,” said Lim. “South Korea keeps asking for dialogue, but North Korea is playing games.”

On Tuesday, North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un announced that a potential attack against Guam would be temporarily put on hold.

News of the pull back fell on Korea’s National Liberation Day. The holiday is celebrated in both North and South Korea to mark their independence from Japanese rule.

A group of senior citizens marked the holiday at a community center run by the Korean United Methodist Church in Kearny Mesa.

The shared holiday comes at a time when the friction between both Koreas is at an all-time high.

Given the recent tension, Lim says he has been calling his family members in South Korea almost every day to touch base.

“I called my brother last night,” says Lim. “He’s worried, but he tells me ‘we have no choice, we have to rely on the government.’”

As San Diego Korean American Seniors Association celebrated their National Holiday, conversations of nuclear war came up between lunches.

“We are very scared,” said Ki Kim, president of Korean American Seniors Association. “We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. Our prayer every night is ‘God, please give us tomorrow.’”

Despite the seriousness of a nuclear attack against South Korea and the U.S territory of Guam, younger generations seem to perceive the threat differently.

Jini Shim is the president of the Korean American Coalition. She says her peers understand the threat but try not to dwell on it.

“I'm trying not think about it,” said Shim, 30. “I talk to my parents in South Korea every day, but I’m helpless. It’s out of my control, so…”

Shim attended the Korean National Liberation Day celebration to hear what older generations had to say about the looming threat.

“I came here to talk about it, to learn from them and what they think about the whole situation,” said Shim. “Usually when it has to do with anything about North Korea, the older generation, because they lived the war, they have stronger feelings. They take the threats more seriously.”

Even though the tension seems to be cooling off, fear of a possible attack is a constant factor.

“There are moments when I feel like, 'what if?'" said Shim. “What if there is some kind of strike and it's really devastating?”

South Korea’s president has urged the U.S to not launch an attack against North Korea without its approval.

Contact Us