Montanans with South Korean ties cautiously optimistic after Tru - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Montanans with South Korean ties cautiously optimistic after Trump-Kim summit

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Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meet for the first time in Singapore. June 12, 2018. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meet for the first time in Singapore. June 12, 2018.

Commenting on this week's historic summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, President Donald Trump said, “The past does not have to define the future. Yesterday's conflict does not have to be tomorrow's war. And, as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends.”

The summit signaled what could be the beginning of a more stable relationship between the two countries.

Natalie Benson and I-Ho Pomeroy, two Bozeman residents, have spent the last few days watching the summit in Singapore a little more closely than most.

While she grew up in Seoul, South Korea, missile scares weren’t uncommon for Benson. But she says no one took them seriously while Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father was in power, because they thought the scares were just the dictator’s way of “flexing his muscles.”

However, after Kim Jong-il’s death in late 2011, Natalie says her community became more concerned about aggression from the North because the younger Kim remained an “unknown entity” to them.

Pomeroy, who moved to the United States from South Korea 25 years ago, said she believed the summit was a success because it brought North Korea out of hiding and opened a dialogue between South Korea, North Korea, and the United States.

Though she has been to North Korea for a South Korean state-sponsored visit, Pomeroy says she dreams of going back to the North when the peninsula is united once again.

And though both women call the U.S. home, they say their friends and family back in South Korea are primarily concerned with how the summit will impact the reunification of the two Koreas.

“It's possible that South Koreans could kind of see it as a recognition of North Korea as a state, and that can get people kind of antsy and a little concerned about, you know, if they have the backing of the U.S.,” Benson said. “There's a lot of younger Koreans who definitely kind of look to reunification as a goal and as a plan, and if this is a step in the right direction then that'd be great.”

Pomeroy said, “It's at least conversation, door is open. That's huge, that's huge step. I'm just grateful, I'm just looking for the big, huge hope... Because we are one country.”

Both women say they’ll continue to follow what happens on the Korean peninsula, hoping for the best for their old home.

President Trump and Kim Jong-un declared the summit a success, although neither country reached an agreement on the details of how denuclearization would be achieved.

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