For Korean-Americans, a mix of hope and worry

December 19, 2011

Korean-Americans in the Chicago area are having mixed reactions to the death of North Korea's long-time dictator Kim Jong Il.

News of Kim Jong Il's death after 17 years in power seems to be bringing both worry and hope to some Korean-Americans. Sik Son heads up Chicago's Korean American Resource and Cultural Center.

With Kim Jong Il gone, Son said he hopes politicians can focus on re-uniting North and South Korea.

"Having ... this kind of situation would be helpful to accelerate the process," he said Monday. "But people also, you know, have concern."

But the leader's death could be good news for people who still have family in the North, according to Augie Lee, who works with a local group trying to re-unite Korean-Americans with their North Korean relatives.

"My point of view is, I hopefully - after Kim Jong Il is passed away, that we have it more open for the family united program better than before," Lee said.

He said that largely depends on what kind of leader Kim Jon Un, the dictator's son, turns out to be.