NOTE: The article below touches on issues that are sensitive to some students or people from various areas of the world. The opinions in this article belong to those who expressed them and do not reflect or represent the views of the Ke Alaka'i or BYU-Hawaii.
A handful of South Korean students said they are not worried about going to war with North Korea despite recent news of threats from Kim Jong Un, though they said they believe him to be a horrible person and a murderer.
Even after serving in the military, Young Cho, a junior studying business management, did not express any fear of Kim’s actions, “Whenever we were doing training with the U.S. armies, North Korea would experiment with missiles.
“It’s just a warning for us not to do South Korean and U.S. Army join training. They have been trying to show that they are aggressive for a long time, so sometimes many youong people [don't] realize how serious it is. No one can predict what will happen in the peninsula, but so far it seems a safe place.
"It’s just showing off, nothing will happen. In fact, South Korea is a very safe place."
Seong Min Jo, a freshman studying business management, said North Korea starting a war is simply just a suicidal mission. “I don’t think Kim Jong Un will start war because all he tried to do was just give out warnings.
“Even if he does start a war, he has no chance to win. In fact, as Koreans, we don’t care. He does the same thing all the time. Foreigners might think that there is going be a war soon and that South Korea is in danger, but we just make fun of him and laugh about it.” Cho emphasized that Kim "is described as just a fat ugly guy and make fun of him, but we should never forget that he is one of the worst murderers in the world.
"We should never forget what he has done to his people and the world."
Minseuk Fred Park, a marketing senior from South Korea, said, “South Korea does take North Korea seriously, but we are not afraid of their provocation because we are always prepared.”
Hyejeong Jeong, an accounting senior, said she believes the reason Kim Jong Un is firing nuclear weapons is to get attention of other countries. “He needs to remind [other countries] they are dangerous. … I worry about war, but I don’t think it will actually happen.” She emphasized that her personal opinions are not necessarily held by all South Korean citizens.
According to CNN, “Kim's actions are not those of a maniacal provocateur but a ‘rational actor’ who is motivated by clear, long-term goals that revolve around ensuring regime survival.”
CNN reports Yong Suk Lee, deputy assistant director of the CIA's Korea Mission Center, said at a conference, "There's a clarity of purpose in what Kim Jong Un has done. Deciding he wants to nuke [a place] is not something Kim Jong Un is likely to do. He wants to rule for a long time and die peacefully in his own bed."
In response to Yong Suk Lee’s quote, Euiseop Lee, a freshman studying music, said he still strongly dislikes Kim’s actions, “He thinks he is the boss in North Korea. He is similar to Hitler who did everything in his own mind. He is not concerned about the citizens and North Korea suffers so much because of him. I really hate him.”
Jo also added, “He only chooses what he wants and never chooses what the citizens need. He is greedy and acts like a child.”
Lee said if South Korea and North Korea could unite, then there could be many potential benefits. Having all men serve in “the military would be optional instead of being mandatory. And the fuel supplies and military technology they have could be helpful to us.
“Also, the families that have been separated since the Korean War back in the 1950s can be reunited again.”
Cho said Kim Jong Un’s actions might not be as crazy as the media presents him. “Kim Jong Un is smart. He speaks good English because he attended school in Switzerland. He understands that democracy is good for his country, but he isn’t doing it because of the need of keeping his power.
“The constant missile testing is just a sign for other countries to give them supplies. And we do support them from time to time just to show that we are better.”