WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tensions and uncertainties are high in Asia following the death overnight of North Korean president Kim Jung Il. Half a world away, Kim’s death is impacting people in the Port City as well.
“I’m very sorry that he passed away before he (had) compassion or before he said sorry to what he did,” said In Woo Ryoo, pastor of the Korean Presbyterian Church of Wilmington. “Some people, including Kim Jong Il’s family, lost their minds; no humanity, no wisdom. They want to drive their people as slaves.”
Ryoo was born in South Korea in 1967; a little more than a decade after the peninsula split at the 38th Parallel. Born and raised in Seoul, his family faced much affliction from the north, because his grandfather and father were christian leaders in the south.
Ryoo called Kim’s reign bloody and brutal.
“My memory of North Korea is not good, because they persecute the people, no political freedom, no freedom of speech, and they starve their people to death,” Ryoo said.
Ryoo said his father gave food to the northern people, but they never once said thank you. He also recalls that northern forces invaded and killed with no remorse.
Ryoo’s family and his wife’s family still reside in South Korea. He said he’s nervous for his loved ones and his beloved country with Kim Jung Un next in line to lead North Korea.
“(The) new leader is so young, no experience,” Ryoo said. “He don’t know what is the world. I think he can do several mistakes, and north korea has nuclear weapons.”
Ryoo believes most North Koreans are innocent and good people that fell prey to an evil leader. He prays the Korean Peninsula will reunite peacefully.
“We are one people. We speak same languages. We are the same culture, and we are the same race,” Ryoo said.
Pastor Ryoo says there are a few hundred Koreans in Wilmington, most of whom are from the south. He says the north is very isolated and insulated, and citizens are not allowed to freely travel outside the country.