Former WKU Student in South Korea Speaks About Political Tension

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

"The atmosphere is business as usual.  I still go to work every day on the bus.  My students still play outside.  There's no sense of panic. There are no people in military uniforms walking around.  No extra police security that I've seen at least," said WKU Graduate and English teacher  Ali Kresslein.

Despite all the talk of Kim Jong Un's recent threats of missile launches and testing, South Koreans have shown few signs of real concern.

One former WKU student has been living and teaching English in South Korea since last August.

"The atmosphere is business as usual. I still go to work every day on the bus. My students still play outside. There's no sense of panic. There are no people in military uniforms walking around. No extra police security that I've seen at least," said WKU Graduate and English teacher Ali Kresslein.

Kresslein says she isn't extremely afraid of war, but prepared for anything.

"I'm not too worried there will be a war, but in case there is, all of us have registered with our own country's embassies," said Kresslein.

The one source of fear for some is the unknown.

"Kim Jong Un is a young leader. He's unpredictable. I think fear of the unknown might be a factor there. Korea's been at war for more than 60 years. They receive threats all the time," said Kresslein.

One international center official is familiar with the history of those threats, and says North Korea's existence is almost dependent on their ability to threaten others into meeting their demands.

"They want to get attention and fan off sanctions to get favors from the west that will help them keep their economy... support a dictatorship there," said International Center Director Albert Mbanfu.

Threats of nuclear weapons are one of their typical methods, and despite being typical, the recent threats are slightly unique.

"The is some reason for fear because North Korea is not a country you can trust at any point in time," said Mbanfu.

Mbanfu says their pattern of aggression in history shows that many events are unannounced, often causing concern and increased security in the region.

Kresslein says many South Korean's say aggressive actions are usually taken on significant dates, making them leery of the anniversary of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung's Birthday on April 15th. She says if they make it past that day, there will be a sense of relief.


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