Top US Democrat: South Koreans are 'confused' and 'shaken' over US-North Korea tensions

Jack ReedAlex Wong/Getty ImagesSen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee, during a news conference on the Korean Peninsula at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island suggested that South Koreans are “confused” and “shaken” because of the possibility of becoming embroiled in conflict should a military operation kick off, severalnewsoutlets reported this week.

Reed was referencing the fiery rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and North Korea over that country’s missile program.

The top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee recently returned from South Korea and its demilitarized zone where he conferred with South Korean leaders.

“I think they are confused and I think they are a little bit shaken because they understand that they would be in the line of fire if there’s any contact between the United States and North Korea in terms of a kinetic military operation,” Reed said in a press conference, referring to a military strike.

Reed cited Trump’s increasingly heated remarks toward North Korea, and the alleged divide between him and the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on matters of diplomacy in the region.

“On one hand they hear Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson being reprimanded for suggesting that he is trying to set up lines of communication,” Reed said. “On the other hand, Trump casually says that he might talk to [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un.”

Trump is scheduled to visit South Korea next month, where he will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-In and call for “maximizing pressure on North Korea.”

Despite Reed’s statements on South Korean sentiments, for years, many of the country’s citizens have lived with the threat of war and have not adopted the alarmist views of Western nations. A Gallup Korea survey in September, conducted after North Korea had its sixth and largest nuclear test, showed that 58% of South Koreans felt that a war with North Korea wasn’t a possibility.

“The survey results show South Koreans have likely grown accustomed to its repeated threats of provocation after over 60 years in a ceasefire state,” Gallup Korea said of the mood in South Korea about its northern neighbour.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.