Local Korean-American 'excited' by prospect of peace back home

Predicts economic, cultural benefits for Korean Peninsula

SAN ANTONIO – This wasn’t just another day for J.T. Kim, a Korean-American business owner on the Eastside.

“I’m very, very surprised,” Kim said after seeing the presidents of his divided homeland, which he left more than 40 years ago, smile, shake hands and hug one another, even crossing the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

“I’m really excited about it because we get to talking to each other, so there’s going to be more peace,” Kim said.

He said he was afraid to visit his mother and siblings in South Korea because of the nuclear tensions between the two countries.

“But now, maybe, we can go all the time,” Kim said with a laugh.

The owner of Chas Market and Kitchen for 33 years also predicted if there is truly peace, both nations could see economic and cultural benefits.

Antonio Villanueva Jr., a history buff enjoying some of Kim’s Korean barbecue, said he’s aware North Korean president Kim Jung Un has failed to keep promises in the past, but he thinks this time could be different.

“Probably, it may be he’ll pull back a little bit on his words,” Villanueva said. “But this is an amazing feat.”

He said perhaps both countries thought the 65-year stalemate had gone on long enough.

“It would get tiresome over time,” Villanueva said.

Mario Paman, a Filipino-American also having lunch, said the prospect for peace could be reassuring for that part of the world because up to now, “A lot of people are afraid of the previous threats made by North Korea."

He also said, “I think it’s going to inspire other countries who perhaps are not getting along right now around the world.”

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