Local U.S. veterans, S. Korean immigrants hope summit brings safer world

Local South Korean immigrants and U.S. military veterans who served in Korea during and after the Korean War said they hope this week’s meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in Singapore will lead to a safer world.

Sun Cheung, 69, served as a foot soldier in the South Korean army before he moved to the United States in 1985. He now owns Valley Wine & Spirits in Halfway.

“I think Mr. Trump, he is doing the right thing,” Sun said. “North Korea … you can only reach them by power – talking doesn’t help.”

Sun grew up near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and still has family there. Although there was tension between the two countries leading up to the summit, he said he doesn’t believe Kim actually intended to use nuclear weapons because the United States would have retaliated with overwhelming force.

“America is much stronger,” he said.

Hagerstown resident and Navy veteran Peter Callas served aboard a destroyer off North Korea from 1952-53.

The 92-year-old said he remembers being part of the 800-day blockade of Wonson Harbor to disrupt North Korean supply lines.

He said he believed the United States and its allies won the war.

“We stopped communism from spreading,” he said.

Callas said he hopes the summit brings peace, but the next several days will be crucial because hardline government leaders inside North Korea might try to overthrow Kim to maintain the status quo.

“The military might object to what he has done,” Callas said.

He also doubted whether Kim would honor his word and let inspectors enter the country to monitor the denuclearization process.

Song Gibson, 55, owner of Long Meadow Cleaners in Hagerstown, said she moved to the United States from South Korea 27 years ago.

She said she believed the summit was a good start.

Like Sun, Song grew up near the DMZ and still has relatives there. She said she worries about her mother, who lives about an hour’s train ride from the border.

A permanent peace, she said, would help ease her mind.

Clear Spring resident Kevin Simmers said he was stationed in South Korea with the Air Force from 1983-85.

He said he remembers when an American service member was shot and killed on the DMZ, which raised tensions among the militaries on both sides.

Simmers, 53, who also is the force behind Brooke’s House treatment home under construction south of Hagerstown, said he has visited the DMZ and was so close to North Korean troops that he could touch them.

“The only thing dividing you was a line on the ground,” he said. “It was very tense up there. You could feel it.”

Simmers said he hopes the summit lays the groundwork for a brighter future.

“This is the biggest thing going on in the world,” he said. “I never thought we would see peace on that peninsula.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.