Houstonian with ties to North Korea, South Korea shares his fears as tensions between the nations rise
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Tensions between North Korea and South Korea are rising, and a Houstonian with ties to both sides worries the situation could escalate out of control.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promised to hit the U.S. and South Korea with nuclear strikes. The U.S. is sending two military jets to South Korea, but that's just to participate in drills. The White House says it hasn't seen any military buildup to back-up threats from North Korea.
Randy Sim's mother escaped from North Korea decades ago.
"It was frigid. It was scary. They had to be quiet. I think they knew the repercussions," Sim said.
Sim, now the chairman of the Korean American Society of Houston, spent a peaceful afternoon Monday with his son at Little League batting practice, but his mind is miles away on the Korean peninsula.
"What's going to happen? Any day now, any hour," Sim said.
North Korea declared Monday that building nuclear weapons is one of its top priorities. South Korea's president ordered the military to respond strongly to any North Korean provocation. The U.S. is moving a ship and a radar platform there. All of this, Sim says, is unusual.
"This time it's different," he said. "I think this time it's different because escalations are more unexpected and they're more severe."
University of Houston Professor Clay McFaden says the impoverished North Korea uses belligerence to get international aid. But this time, it might not work.
"I think the North Korean leadership is desperate because their economic model doesn't appear to be working," McFaden said.
McFaden doesn't think war is likely, but Sim is concerned. And he can only watch and wait.
"Every day, it seems like we're at that brink where you can't go any further, and the next day it seems like we get even closer," Sim said.
In recent months, North Korea has launched a rocket, tested a nuclear device and threatened to hit U.S. cities with nuclear-armed missiles. Last week, the U.S. agreed to respond jointly with South Korea to any North Kroean attack and flew two B-2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula.
Stay with Eyewitness News as we continue following the situation.
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