North Korea summit: A South Korean student’s perspective

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My name is Anna Cho and I am an exchange student from South Korea. I am attending North Idaho Christian School, and just now completed my sophomore year. This year was my second year in America.

A summit between U.S. and North Korea is scheduled to take place Tuesday. Everyone around the world is looking forward to see these two countries gather for an important meeting. As a Korean, I remain hopeful that everything will have a positive outcome.

My sentiments about North Koreans are remorseful yet neutral. I harbor no ill feelings towards them. While living in South Korea, I was so numb about many things that occur opposite our borders to the North. We are so close in proximity and very exposed to them, yet it is something I didn’t often view as a problem in my daily life.

After coming to America, everything has changed. The daily news often speaks of the threat North Korea poses with their nuclear missile capabilities. The tensions between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, have had some very intense moments. There have been times when I felt a missile could be launched at any given minute.

I started worrying about my family and friends in South Korea. The tensions continued for a long time, and it seemed like it would never end unless one of the countries was provoked beyond control. I also thought to myself that if a war occurs between North and South Korea, I would rather die with my family than live by myself.

My feelings lately have changed.

It was encouraging to hear that North and South Korea recently had a successful summit. North Korea recently changed their time zone to match that of South Korea. This may appear insignificant to the rest of the world, but to South Korea it was a measurable milestone. It gave great hope to South Koreans. It symbolized we are slowly becoming united once again. I was glad to hear that the summit was successful because North and South Korea have had a bad relationship over the last few years. The recent news that progress is being made has been a welcome rain in a long-endured drought.

My great-grandfather was taken away by North Korean soldiers during the Korean War. It happened on June 25, 1950. My great-grandmother was left alone with two very young sons to raise, a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. They went through really hard times.

In the 1980s North and South Korea had a good relationship, they allowed families to reunite who had been separated by the war. My grandfather applied, hoping to find his dad, several times, but his search was unsuccessful. This sad story isn’t just about my family. Family separations happened throughout my entire country. Many families to this day still look for signs of hope that one day they may be reunited with their siblings and learn of the family tree many are yet to discover.

A reunified Korea can bring a positive end to the painful outcome a war left in its wake. That is the reason why I want this meeting to have a successful outcome.

Many people’s lives will be forever changed once these countries meet to resolve their differences. We can achieve valuable outcomes, and the whole world stands to benefit. I am very excited and hopeful that both countries will find a way to resolve any respective issues that hang in the balance, and do so in a diplomatic and peaceful manner.

As a native Korean, my hope and prayer is that this meeting will bring much needed peace to the greater Korean peninsula and to the rest of the world.

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