By Aubree Stamper, Photo Editor
President Trump was welcomed by both protesters and supporters when he visited South Korea last week and talked about North Korea, trade, and his favorite—golf. The president spoke at a joint news conference with South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in, delivered a speech to South Korea’s National Assembly, and also visited Camp Humphreys, a U.S. army garrison only 60 miles away from the DMZ (where he surprisingly didn’t visit because it was “cliche”).
Trump visited South Korea after Japan as a part of a five-nation tour of Asia. The number one topic he addressed while in town—North Korea. The president contrasted the obvious differences between the North and South, and urged China and Russia to help reach a peaceful solution. But Trump made it very clear that he wasn’t taking this lightly.
“Do not underestimate us. And do not try us,” Trump warned.
“North Korea is not the paradise your grandfather envisioned,” he said directly to Kim Jong-un.
But what do normal South Korean citizens think about the President’s tactics and the possibility of war with North Korea? In interviews with the YouTube channel DKDKTV, many people gave their opinions.
“I do get worried when I watch the news, but it doesn’t affect me directly so it doesn’t really feel real to me,” one man said, “Trump seems unpredictable and it’s hard to support him.”
“It gets me nervous. He’s very unpredictable,” an elderly lady said, “but we shouldn’t worry about Trump. We need to stay firm and be responsible for ourselves.”
“Provocations from North Korea happen every year. This is probably one of those, and nothing will happen,” one young man told DKDKTV, “Former US presidents were much softer on the North, but Trump is very firm and strong on North Korea which I think is good. But on the other hand, if you consider North Korea it’s very weird right now [with Kim Jong-un], so Trump’s policy seems a little dangerous.”
Mic’s Kelly Kasulis also interviewed South Koreans about Trump and North Korea.
“If South and North Korea are going to have a war, it’s going to be all because of Trump,” college student Im So-jeong said.
“I’m just focusing on making a living and getting by day by day,” said Choi Da-song, “so I don’t really pay attention or care about the war.”
“The people who have been through the military — men like me — they think the war can happen and they worry about it,” Jung Jin-ho told Mic, “but regular civilians don’t have these concerns.”
“America wants peace over the world, so I trust America to take care of my country,” said Ji Jung-hae, an elderly woman.
“I wish he would just mind his own business and go away. Trump really doesn’t qualify for president. He doesn’t even have the basic qualifications to be a leader,” Baek Jang-ji said, “Trump is basically a rich man interested in bragging about his wealth, and he doesn’t have any clue what regular people’s lives are like, and I don’t think he even cares to know.”
Many Americans think that living in Seoul is dangerous and that the citizens are always afraid, but South Koreans have lived next door to North Korea their entire lives—they’re used to it by now.
In April while I was in the midst of applying to a study abroad program in South Korea, the North held a parade displaying their missiles and military strength that sent panic through my friends and family. They test-fired missiles five more times after that before I left. My mom spent her time researching online if I would be safe in Seoul or not, a mere 40 miles from the DMZ.
The day before my plane left for Seoul, North Korea tested a new rocket engine. While I was in Seoul, the North tested their first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which had the ability to possibly reach Seattle. We were in class when we got a news alert; my friend showed me what it said and we both looked at each other, shrugged, and continued with what we were doing.
While my friends and family back home worried that I wouldn’t make it home alive, I went on with my daily life in Seoul like nothing had happened. And so did everyone around me. The funny thing is, I never once felt unsafe the entire time I was in South Korea and neither did the people who live there.
But when the President of the United States tweets things like, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!” It worries South Koreans.
“In Korea, more people dislike Trump than like him…” Cha Chi-un told Mic, “Right now, we don’t need a war… But seeing as we’re so close to North Korea, we are the ones who will suffer the casualties… The president of the United States needs to be concerned about other countries’ safety, too.”