Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

April 9, 2013

NKorea urges foreigners to vacate South Korea

(Continued)

Observers also say the torrent of North Korean prophecies of doom and efforts to raise war hysteria are partly to boost the image and military credentials of young leader Kim Jong Un.

Air Koryo's daily flight from Beijing was only half full on Tuesday. Flight attendants in red suits and blue scarves artfully kept in place by sparkling brooches betrayed no sense of fear or concern.

Among the tourists who arrived Tuesday was Mark Fahey, a biomedical engineer from Sydney, Australia, who said he thought a war was "pretty unlikely."

Fahey, a second-time visitor to North Korea, said he booked his trip to Pyongyang six months ago, eager to see how North Korea might have changed under Kim Jong Un. He said he chose to stick with his plans, suspecting that most of the threats were rhetoric.

"I knew that when I arrived here it would probably be very different to the way it was being reported in the media," he told The Associated Press at Pyongyang airport. He said his family trusts him to make the right judgment, but "my colleagues at work think I am crazy."

He said he took no special precautions. "I haven't brought anything at all - just a camera," he said with a laugh. But he noted that several other tourists who had been slated to travel with his group had canceled their journeys.

Chu Kang Jin, a Pyongyang resident, said everything is calm in the city.

"Everyone, including me, is determined to turn out as one to fight for national reunification ... if the enemies spark a war," he said, using nationalist rhetoric employed by many North Koreans when speaking to the media.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who has sought to re-engage North Korea with dialogue and aid since taking office in February, expressed exasperation Tuesday with what she called the "endless vicious cycle" of Seoul answering Pyongyang's hostile behavior with compromise, only to get more hostility.

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