Toronto

'Sorrow and helplessness': Nuclear tests in North Korea have Koreans in Toronto on edge

As the international community mulls its response to North Korea seemingly ramping up its nuclear testing, Toronto’s Korean residents are increasingly nervous about their loved ones in the nearby south.

North Korean regime conducted its sixth missile test on Sunday

Kijong Wi, 38, moved to Canada eight years ago but his parents and brother still live in Seoul. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

As the international community mulls its response to North Korea seemingly ramping up its nuclear testing, Toronto's Korean residents are increasingly nervous about their loved ones in the nearby south.

The isolated North Korean regime conducted its sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test on Sunday: a hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

The test spurred the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, to declare that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was "begging for war," noting that "our country's patience is not unlimited."

For its part, South Korea conducted its own military exercises on Monday that included long-range air-to-surface and ballistic missiles. South Korea also declared it was discussing the possibility of deploying aircraft carriers and other weaponry with the U.S.

In Toronto's Koreatown neighbourhood, residents there say they are worried about the family members they have in the capital, Seoul, and other parts of South Korea.

Kijong Wi, 38, moved to Canada eight years ago, but his entire family still lives in South Korea. What worries him is the unpredictability of when the next weapons test might occur. He went so far as to suggest the situation could escalate to another world war.

"They are worried right now because it's not an easy problem," he told CBC Toronto on Monday. "It's very difficult. It's very scary."

He wonders what Kim Jong-un's objectives are with the increased military activity.

"Kim Jong-un is a very dangerous man," he said.

'I'm really worried'

Minsoo Kim moved to Toronto less than a year ago, but most of his family, including his parents and his brother, is still in South Korea. He served in the South Korean army for about three years, so he knows how his country prepares for the threat of war from the north.

Minsoo Kim knows all about military preparations for war. He served in the South Korean army for about three years. (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

"I'm really worried about North Korea," he said. "What will happen?"

Erin Kang, 27, was born in Ontario, but has many family members living in Seoul. She is anxious not knowing what will come next as international tensions escalate.

"The biggest thing I feel all the time is just how far away they are," Kang said. "So if anything did happen, whether it's this threat of nuclear war or even something more personal as my aunt being sick, it's always, 'Well, will we see them? Can we go there? Can they come here?' So that distance really breeds a lot of sorrow and helplessness."

Erin Kang was born in Ontario, but most of her mother's family remains in South Korea. She says the physical distance can lead to feelings of 'sorrow and helplessness.' (Richard Agecoutay/CBC)

Meanwhile, the UN is mulling further sanctions against North Korea, which already operates under UN sanctions imposed on its ballistic missile and nuclear programs in 2006.

Haley, the American UN ambassador, signalled the United States' intention to circulate a new resolution for consideration by the Security Council that would call for further sanctions. She was calling for a vote on that resolution next week.

With files from Lauren Pelley and Reuters

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