School Delays

Seoul of Hampton Roads, how South Koreans feel about North Korea

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - North Korea's latest missile launch shows its technology is becoming more advanced. Their dictator, Kim Jong Un is focusing on power. It's a new level of threat saying North Korea can strike soon. The new missile flew to an altitude of 1,300 into space and traveled more than 400 miles.

Talk of North Korean actions is discussed in the news and in Korean-owned restaurants by those who used to call Seoul home.

"They are interested in keeping their dynasty, their current power," said Jay An.

Jae Jun Chang is the President of the Tidewater Korean American Association and reports on news for a local Korean newspaper.

"Kim Jong Un, it’s not a simple issue. For him nuclear missile program is a survival …to survive or not, his regime. That's the point that the issue is difficult to solve," said Chang.

Chang immigrated to the United States to join his family 13 years ago. Worrying about North Korea's actions is common for him.

"We always concerned about North Korea, since we were young. We learned in the school, communism is not good," said Chang, who also believes the dictator is doing whatever he can to stay in power.

Despite the threats and tensions, Chang, along with other South Koreans are staying positive and calm. Focusing on impacting the community and being the Seoul of Hampton Roads.

"Right now, I feel like this is my hometown, Virginia Beach," said Jay An, who came to the United States in his early 20s. "U.S. has so many opportunities, even if they fail first time. They can get another chance in their life."

An got another chance when it came to his education. That's why he works to help high school students get accepted into their dream universities. So does Lea Lee, who is a literacy education professor at Old Dominion University.

"It was not easy to overcome the language barrier and being able to accomplish the requirements so that's one message I’m giving them," said Lee.

She teaches our future teachers and shares her story as proof immigrants will always be a staple in any community in the United States.

"It doesn’t matter whether you have an accent, you have a style of speech that’s different from American mainstream speakers," said Lee. "When you have a dream and work hard, put your best effort, you actually accomplish your dreams."

Many South Koreans who live in Hampton Roads are proud of where they came from.

"I'm proud of myself that I'm Korean American, said An.

Some South Koreans also are thinking about a peaceful path forward, on the heels of a new South Korean President, Moon Jae-in.

"That could be a game changer to reunify the Korean Penninsula," said Chang.

He hopes he will see it in his lifetime, hopefully in the next decade.

But no matter the launches and military parades of power or the continued rule of communism, all it takes for these Korean Americans to feel optimistic is good Korean bbq, some Kim chi and family to show Hampton Roads is their home.