Korea tension: Bend exchange student weighs in

Says her family 'is not scared'

South Korean student shares thoughts on conflict

BEND, Ore. - The tension on the Korean peninsula is felt in Central Oregon by one foreign exchange student who said Thursday she and and her family are not worried -- at least, not yet.

Trinity Lutheran School has 16 foreign exchange students, three from South Korea. One of them, Hanja Lee, 17, goes by the American name, Claire.

"I'm from South Korea, and my hometown is pretty much a city, bigger than Bend," said Claire. "But I love it here."

Even though her home is halfway around the world, Claire follows American news about North Korea's nuclear threats. She constantly checks in with her family in South Korea.

"I call my parents and they say it's not a big deal," said Claire. "They say it's the same going on and same situation."

She also discusses the issue with her host family. Her host father is a teacher at Trinity Lutheran, and he says her family trusted his family to take care of Claire, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

"We don't want to dramatize it too much," said Jon McKim. "We do simply ask, 'What's going on?' and 'How's your family?' And then we pray about it sometimes."

And if violence does break out in the Korean peninsula, Claire has a big support system at Trinity.

"A lot of the students are here to support her -- her teachers, the church," said McKim. "If conflict breaks out, she is going to be taken care of."

For now, as the world stands by to see what will happen next, Claire focuses on her education. She said getting a good education is the reason she came to the U.S. in the first place.

"We're not really scared right now," said Claire. "That's what I hear from my family and my friends."

Claire plans to go home to South Korea this summer, then return to Central Oregon for her senior year.

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