Bay Area Koreans worry about escalating tensions


There are an estimated 150,000 Korean-Americans in the Bay Area. Many have family in their homeland and as tension on the Korean peninsula grows, so does their concern for their family's safety

Korean immigrants packed the Oakland Korean United Methodist Church Sunday, just as they do every week. They came to give thanks at the end of this holiday weekend, but their minds and prayers were focused on their homeland.

"I think it's an act of evil; we're going to have to stand to drive out the Kim Jong Il regime," Walnut Creek resident Jung Han said.

Many in the East Bay's growing Korean community are critical of their native South Korean government. They say it has been weak and passive and allowed tensions with the north to escalate.

"We must stand strong against North Korea, we are too much generous to them," Danville resident Il Sung Kang said.

Stand strong, even if it results in an all out war.

"We must abolish North Korea [as a] country," Kang said.

Oakland accountant Jong Hyuk Lee was born in North Korea and immigrated south when he was five years old. He is also a former South Korean marine.

"This is something that U.S. and South Korea should stand up and say, 'enough is enough,'" Lee said.

Lee monitors Korean news for the latest updates and hopes china and the United States help South Korea make a serious military show of force. But he says war is not the answer.

"There shouldn't be any war because I've gone through that myself and during the Korean War I lost my entire family; I don't want that to happen to anybody," he said.

Lee also has a half sister in North Korea that he has not seen or heard from in more than half a century. He says he knows what is at stake.

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