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Korean Americans closely watch Singapore summit

Dong Hyuk Lee, Chief of Voice of America's Korean Service. (WJLA)

Both sides are finalizing their preparations for the unprecedented Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Meanwhile, here in the D.C. region, many Korean Americans will be watching this historic moment very closely.

“This is the most important and biggest story,” said Dong Hyuk Lee, Chief of Voice of America's Korean Service.

Lee is one of the leading experts in the U.S. on North and South Korea. At Voice of America’s Capitol Hill offices, his staff is busy producing coverage of the summit.

“If we have sort of a satisfactory agreement on the nuclear issue, I'm sure at some point the U.S. will raise the human rights issue before anything can happen in terms of improving ties with North Korea,” Lee said.

Beyond nukes and beyond this summit, he believes any progress will come down to addressing the north's human rights violations.

“Hopefully the regime can make some kind of commitment to stop those violations,” Lee said.

In Annandale, there is a large Korean American population. Some are feeling hopeful but many others are skeptical about the summit and North Korea's intentions.

“They not going to give up the nuclear [weapons]. Absolutely not. No. North Korea, never. [It’s] just a show,” said Ki Park.

For many Korean Americans, this is more than just international relations. This is about their relatives living in South Korea. Park said he worries for the safety of his mother, brother and sister who still live in South Korea.

There seems to be a generation gap in this community, with younger people more open to normalizing relations with North Korea.

“My children are born here. They [are] old and Americanized so they don't really care but I do,” said Kay Simmons.

But opinions are mixed about President Trump taking on this 70-year conflict, whether he's prepared and whether this opportunity will be any different than past attempts.

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