Seoul expats on fears of nuclear war

Published:  16 Aug at 6 PM
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Whilst the increasing instability of tensions between the USA and North Korea is causing concern across the planet, what are the feeling of expats in South Korea who’re in the direct firing line?

Expats living in Seoul’s international Itaewon district have everything to lose should even a non-nuclear conflict be the result of Trump’s and Kim’s threatening rhetoric. As has been made very clear in numerous press reports, North Korea’s conventional weapons on its border with the south could flatten the city in short order. Interviews with a selection of expat residents give their feelings at this difficult time.

Kenneth Washington, a nightclub promoter originally from Los Angeles, says he’s totally unconcerned as he’s got a satisfactory exit strategy based on friends in high places should war break out. His comments about Trump don’t bear repeating, but he’s certain he’ll be one of the first to escape when the nuclear bomb drops, and he has no intention of returning to the USA. A French student told reporters he and his group of friends are worried about the possibility of war between the two halves of the peninsula, but doubt that Trump will actually attack. He believes the rhetoric between Kim and Trump is far too aggressive, and believes his life would be at risk if it leads to an actual armed conflict between the two nations.

Scottish expat Daniel McClaughlin admits the war of words is making him nervous, but adds the feeling is somewhat weird, as he’d expected to be really scared. Words, he says, have meanings and consequences, but Trump’s outbursts seem misguided and badly thought out, as that type of comment is usually from North Korea, not from South Korea's supposed ally. He adds there have been several earlier occasions when the situation seemed to be getting out of hand, as well as an escalation of nuclear and missile tests.

Several other European expats working in Seoul admitted to concerns but pointed out there had been many scares of this type over several decades, with Kim simply carrying on what his father and grandfather started. Those interviewed were more worried about effects on their businesses and lives in general than the possible results of the continuing threats uttered by the two protagonists. However, they're all well aware that, should war break out, there’s nothing they could do about it.
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