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Dublin: 23 °C Monday 25 June, 2018
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'We can actually be one nation again' - For Koreans in Ireland the Singapore summit is not about Trump

It’s more about the personal than the politics.

The Dublin Korean Culture Meetup Group meets most weeks in Dublin.
The Dublin Korean Culture Meetup Group meets most weeks in Dublin.
Image: meetup.com

THE TRUMP-KIM summit was looked at from a variety of perspectives from around the world.

Depending on your viewpoint it may have been either an historic first step towards eventual peace and rapprochement in the Korean peninsula or just a photo opportunity for two ego-driven world leaders.

For Korean national Kyle Hyunsung Kim who’s lived and worked in Dublin for the past eight years, it doesn’t really matter about Donald Trump’s involvement. The only thing that matters is that it works.

Kyle is one of the organisers of the Dublin Korean Culture Meetup Group, an online group of both Koreans and Irish people who share a love of both cultures.

As the name suggests, the group gathers regularly and is an opportunity for Korean people to meet each other and Irish people in their new city.

Originally from Seoul, Kyle runs an online student recruitment agency called Lingospy from here in Dublin. He says the recent improving relations between North and South Korea have got all Koreans talking.

“We are very excited about what is happening right now, and especially about the summit itself. It is actually very funny because my fiancée is American and she kind of thought the whole summit was a photo-op and was about stroking President Trump’s ego and stuff.”

I partly agree but from a Korean point of view it is actually a very exciting moment. I can see we are now one step closer to unification and ending wars. I feel very positive about it.

“To be perfectly honest with you I really don’t care what Trump may gain in terms of the credit or anything. What I care about it is that we can actually be one nation again and we can travel to each other and visit each other. That’s what really matters.”

Trump North Korea Human Rights Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump on Sentosa Island in Singapore. Source: Evan Vucci/PA Images

The division of Korea occurred after the Second World War due to the presence of US and Soviet troops in the country, and was then copper-fastened by the Korean War.

It is the ambition and hope of most Koreans that both north and south will be reunited in the future but, as Kyle explains, it’s less of a political aspiration than a personal one.

My granddad is from North Korea. He’s passed away now but when my mom was a child he always her sat down with notes and a list of his family members, their names and addresses. And my granddad gave them to my mam and said whenever Korea is unified you have to find those people, they are your blood family. And that’s the reality of it, we still have family over there.

“He used to live in North Korea before the war and when the war broke out he went down south and he could not go back to the north after the war. So he remarried to my grandma and then they had my mom. So then he had his ex-wife and his child and everything in the north. We don’t actually know if they’re still alive.”

Kyle explains that there’s no way of getting in contact with that family north of the border but that his mother has been very excited about the recent cooling of relations between north and south.

Especially, he says, about the diplomatic work being undertaken by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who met with Kim Jong-un in Korea’s demilitarized zone in April.

On the future, Kyle says he is hopeful that the positive steps that have already been taken will translate into concrete progress. He says that he doesn’t personally like Trump but that he believes his judgement of Kim’s intentions are correct.

When Kim Jong Un took the power from his father, I remember Korean people were saying when he was a kid we knew he studied in Switzerland. And people said when he studied abroad and was exposed to the culture of the western society there will be big changes when he takes power.

“I think this time we will really see the big changes coming,” he adds.

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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