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City’s South Korean natives on edge over North Korea’s threats

Updated: May 13, 2013 6:29AM

Native South Korean Melanie Lee is packing up for a trip to her homeland.

But the Northwest Side pharmacist is having doubts — especially being so close to North Korea on April 15, a national holiday celebrating the 100th birthday of Kim Jong-Un’s grandfather.

North Korea’s government agency said Thursday that it has “powerful striking means” on standby for a launch, amid speculation in Seoul and Washington that North Korea will test-fire a mid-range missile designed to reach the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It was the latest warning from the North, which launched a long-range rocket in December and conducted an underground nuclear test in February.

“I’m kind of worried but I’ve already made reservations,” Lee said of her flight leaving Saturday. “I’m hesitating and thinking maybe I should cancel it.”

She’s worried about what the young leader might do to celebrate.

“Maybe he’s planning on doing something, something bad to celebrate,” Lee said.

Lee has several cousins living in South Korea but said she’s more worried about Kim Jong-Un’s missile threats than them: “They are not really afraid of anything,” Lee said. “They just say, ‘oh, they do this all the time,’ but I feel like it’s kind of an urgent emergency.”

She said she doesn’t trust the young leader: “I’m not really sure he knows what’s going on and what’s happening in the world.”

Jang Lim, who runs a Korean video and DVD store several blocks away, said he’s worried about his elderly parents, who live in a nursing home in South Korea. He calls them weekly to check up on them.

“Sure, I’m worried about them, but we confront a lot of conflict from South and North Korea — so far more than 60 years,” Lim said. “We are used to crisis all the time.”

He called Kim Jon-Un’s latest threat “a big problem” and one that is heightening the sense of crisis he believes many Koreans feel.

At a Korean store specializing in selling kimchee — a traditional fermented Korean dish — owner Simon Han said his relatives in South Korea are “very upset right now,” but “they are not worried about war.”

War, he says, would be too risky for the young leader: “He’s a kid,” Han said. “But I think he knows if he makes war, all sides will be destroyed.”

Contributing: AP

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