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No panic in South Korea - Despite war rhetoric, Jamaicans feel safe

Published:Friday | August 18, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Young Gyu Lee
Donald Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Despite the bellicose rhetoric between North Korean leader Kim Jung Un and United States President Donald Trump, Jamaicans living in South Korea have nothing to fear, says Heather Davis, a Jamaican national attending university in Seoul.

Davis, who is one of only two Jamaicans at the KDI School of Public Policy and Management, told The Gleaner it is business as usual for them, having learnt from her South Korean associates never to panic in these circumstances.

"When I got here initially, I was concerned because this was something new to me. I was not aware of any of this tension between these countries, but then I spoke to a few Koreans and I got the impression that this is an ongoing thing and it was more or less soft talk," Davis said.

"We are not concerned at all. In fact, I have contacted a few Jamaicans here, and from what I can gather, we are not concerned at all," she said.

Davis is among the fewer than 50 Jamaicans the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade has confirmed are working or studying in South Korea. She said that Koreans have become accustomed to this daily experience and that that has helped her to understand the dynamics involved.




"It's always business as usual here. When I saw how they (South Koreans) were responding to the situation, that it was not something to cause panic, I resigned myself to the idea that I was indeed safe," said Davis.

Jamaica's foreign affairs ministry said it was unable to ascertain an exact number of Jamaicans in South Korea "since Jamaicans do not always register with the superintending mission, which is the embassy in Tokyo (Japan)".

The ministry said Jamaicans not registering in host country jurisdictions is a challenge most missions face, but, by the same token, added that Jamaicans in South Korea are not alarmed because of the heightened tension in the region.

"Jamaicans living in South Korea are not alarmed; they have taken cues from South Korean associates who, themselves, are not worried and consider the tension to be a part of their daily lives," the ministry said, echoing the sentiments expressed by Davis.

"Should things escalate, the ministry and mission will take appropriate action in terms of contacting and advising the Jamaican community in South Korea."


Envoy: Your loved ones are safe


Young Gyu Lee, the South Korean ambassador to Jamaica, says he wants to reassure Jamaicans that, despite a recent escalation of tensions between North Korea and the United States, their loved ones working or studying in the region are safe.

"I am confident that Jamaicans in my country have nothing to worry about. They are very safe and will remain so. I am confident," Young said.

"My government and the people of my country are going about their business as usual. We are used to this. Jamaicans there now also should go about their business and not worry," Young told The Gleaner.

The border between US-backed South Korea and North Korea is perhaps among the most tense locations on the planet and has been in existence since 1953, when both countries agreed to an armistice, meaning they have remained technically at war since the North invaded the South in 1950.