Korean Americans Hopeful For Positive Outcome of Trump-Kim Summit
New York: Korean Americans are cautiously optimistic and hope the upcoming summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump will produce concrete results. It's been six and a half decades since the Korean War ended with an armistice, but peace was never officially declared. Many Korean Americans still have ties to the peninsula, like those in Koreatown in Los Angeles, which is the epicenter of the largest concentration of ethnic Koreans outside the peninsula. Roughly 300,000 Korean Americans call greater LA their home. But for many, their homeland is still Korea. All the more reason the Kim-Trump Summit is captivating the Korean-American community there. "For many Korean Americans, and I think even actually the non-Korean Americans that are around me, they're all equally excited and hopeful, but at the same time, because of the past, there is this guarded, tempered hope or celebration just because you just don't know," said Hyepin Im, president of Faith and Community Empowerment. The on-again, off-again summit has certainly heightened that cautious approach, but for Kee Park, director of DPRK programs for the Korean American Medical Association, the possibility of lasting peace on the peninsula is stunning. "Six months ago if you had told me, that they would be meeting in Singapore, Trump and Kim, I would have been laughed at. And look where we are now," he said. Park has been going on medical humanitarian missions to Pyongyang for the past 10 years. "The North Korean people inherently are distrustful, especially if you're coming from the United States. Some people come, they make promises, they don't come back. So we were very careful to make promises that we can keep. My favorite is working across a table with a North Korean surgeon on the same patient. We are not enemies any more," he said. Jason Ahn, board chair of Divided Families USA, also hopes the summit will lead to a breakthrough, especially on the issue of divided families. More than 100,000 Korean Americans have family members in the DPRK they haven't seen in more than six decades. "You can imagine the folks who remember their mother, their brother, their child whom they left in North Korea are in their 70s, 80s and 90s, if they're still alive and so time is running out," said Ahn. Even with the many disappointments in the past, Koreans who still have loved ones on the Korean Peninsula, still hope that permanent peace is somewhere in the not so distant future.