ISU stays prepared for threats to exchange students in South Korea

By Beau Ebenezer

April 5, 2013 Updated Apr 5, 2013 at 6:46 PM CDT

NORMAL Ill -- The threats keep coming from North Korean leader, Kim Jung-un, who on Friday, advised British and Russia to consider evacuation of it's embassies in Pyongyang, as they are reportedly moving another missile to it's east coast, and bringing a further threat to U.S. Pacific bases.

This year, Illinois State University's School of Communications sent two of it's students to a Media and Arts program close to Seoul, South Korea, right by the border of North Korea.

With the recent threats, university officials say they are keeping an extra eye on the situation.

"The study abroad office is paying very close attention to this and is going to increase its communication with both students and parents to reassure them of things," said ISU Media Relations Director, Eric Jome. "We have received no word that they are expressing concern for safety."

One ISU senior knows all about the exchange experience in South Korea.

Jason Cleckley was part of the same foreign exchange program last year, but never saw much panic from South Korean citizens.

"They don't pay North Korea much mind," said Cleckley. "It was a regular thing to see military helicopters fly over and no one was alarmed. It was just a fact of life. They knew North Korea was up there and that they don't like them, but they probably weren't going to do anything."

Meanwhile, Illinois State currently has 22 Korean students studying on campus.

Sungwook Hong, a native of South Korea, is in ISU's International Student Program and has been in the U.S. for six years.

His family, however, is right at the boarder of the growing conflict.

"They are in the range of the artillery," said Hong. "I mean, Kim Jong will say the war has begun and then bomb them. My family is just telling me don't ever come back if the war begins. That's how much they are worrying right now."

While many citizens throughout South Korea, believe the threats are just another bluff to gain power, Hong warned of the seriousness of these threats that he has seen his whole life.

"South Korean people don't really worry like the other countries because it has not happened yet," said Hong. "They get used to it, and that's a problem. This time I think we have to change our minds, worry about it, and prepare for it.