The Korean American community in New York City was shocked along with the rest of the world community when news broke Sunday that North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il died Saturday.
His death has great implications for worldwide diplomatic relations, international trade and the future of Asia that will be hashed out in coming months and year.
But leaders of the Korean American community in New York, and especially its massive enclave in the Northeast Queens neighborhoods Flushing and Bayside, say Korean Americans have a unique perspective on his passing.
Having roots in South Korea (mostly) but living in the United States, most Korean Americans' allegiances are divided between the two nations, and the two countries' interests do not always dovetail.
Myung Suk Lee, president of the Korean American Association of Queens, told the International Business Times Monday that what happens in Korea does not stay in Korea.
The Korean American community has a strong bond with Korea, and we are very concerned with Korea, our mother country, he said. We are mostly conservative and we have a strong patriotism for Korea. If there is political turmoil in North Korea, which is possible, it will affect South Korea and the Korean American community overseas.
The long-term impacts of the mantle of power being passed from Kim Jong-Il to his youngest son, Kim Jung-Un are impossible to predict, according to Suk Lee and Terence Park, president of the Political Coalition of Greater Flushing.
But Park said he does not think the new leader's ascendancy will equal any major improvement in the lives of North Koreans, who have little economic opportunity in the hardline Communist nation.
I think it will be worse because Kim Jung-Un doesn't have any ability or knowledge to enhance the economic situation, He's a kid. I don't think it's going to get better, Park told the International Business Times Monday. I don't think there will be any major change at all. He's a puppet right now, a puppet of the people who are in control in North Korea: the military and intelligence people.
Park--who has run for office in a number of local elections in Queens over the past decade--and Lee, also worry that there could be a coup d'état in North Korea at some point in the not-too-distant future by the powerful military leaders or others in the nation.
The North Korean army is very strong and they have strong power, Lee said. That's the most serious concern for South Korea and overseas--that there could be a coup d'état and the army generals can do something to [take] power. That's the worst scenario.
Lee also said that he is not overly concerned about the launch of missiles by the North Korean military shortly after the death was announced.
We believe that it's not serious because the launch was planned and it was regular launch, he said. From now on, if they do that more frequently, that's more serious.
Park said the takeaway is that he believes for the time being that North Korea will follow its new leader, but that the future is harder to envision.
It's yet to be seen. It's too early to predict anything, but one thing I can predict is that all the loyal followers will fall in line behind Kim Jong-Un and stabilize the political and economic situation for a while, he said. It is still yet to be seen what happens down the road.