By JOSH AULT6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As tensions continue to rise in North Korea, many Korean families in Knoxville are getting concerned. Many of them say they are worried about loved ones in South Korea who could be in danger if the north follows through on their threats.
Dr. Kenneth (Kun Ha) Kim came to the United States from South Korea in 1955 to study at Duke University.
After finishing his studies, he got a job at the University of Tennessee in 1976 as a engineering professor. After 35 years at UT, he retired.
Dr. Kim now serves as an elder at the Korean Church of Knoxville.
He says the threats from North Korea concern him. "That reminds me of the Korean War," said Dr. Kim. "I went through two wars."Dr. Kim grew up in what is now North Korea and fled to the south in 1945 at the end of World War II.
Five years later, during the Korean War, he had to hide for three months for fear of being killed by North Korean soldiers. "I went through tragedy," said Dr. Kim. "I saw so many people killed."Dr. Kim still has family in South Korea, and he says they are worried and feel this time North Korea may be serious. "I think they should be patient and prepare in the case they attack," he said. "They are well prepared right now."
There is a small Korean population in Knoxville that has grown over the years.
When Dr. Kim first came to Knoxville, there was not a Korean church. In 1978, he helped establish the very first one, and now every Sunday they have more than 100 people.He says every Sunday they say a special prayer for the people in North and South Korea. "Pray for the peaceful unification in the future," said Dr. Kim, "That's our ultimate prayer."Dr. Kim says there are currently more than 100 students from North Korea who are studying at UT.
UT officials tell us that right now there is only one student who is studying abroad in South Korea.