The View From Guam On North Korean Threat

Aug 9, 2017
Originally published on August 9, 2017 6:38 am
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The tiny U.S. territory of Guam suddenly finds itself at the center of a war of words between North Korea and the U.S. Yesterday, North Korea said it's examining plans for a missile attack on Guam. The island halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines was invaded by Japan during World War II. And it was occupied for more than two and a half years before being retaken by U.S. forces. To find out more about what people in Guam think about these threats, we're joined by Paul McDonald. He's the mayor of Agana Heights, which overlooks the capital. Good morning.

PAUL MCDONALD: Good morning.

CHANG: So first, can you tell me a little bit about your town? How many people live there?

MCDONALD: Well, there's about almost 6,000 people that lives in my town. We have a population of about 200,000 U.S. citizens.

CHANG: And how are people there reacting to these threats from North Korea and of course the counter-threats from President Trump?

MCDONALD: Yes, of course the threat from North Korea is really being taken seriously, you know, especially with our elders who have experienced the second world war when the Japanese force came and took over Guam, invaded Guam. You know, like, my mom - she's 91 years old. And I was over at the office all day today. She'd call me every 10 minutes to update her. And you know, other kids that we also have are being affected. So we are really taking it seriously - a lot of the people in Guam.

CHANG: This feels very real to people on the ground there.

MCDONALD: Of course, of course, you know, because - especially when the federal government - U.S. federal government fighting back with words with North Korea. We never know what could happen, especially with our president today.

CHANG: So what is the local government doing to prepare for a possible attack or at least to calm people's nerves?

MCDONALD: Well, you know, a lot of the people would ask our civil defense, what's going on? What should they do? Civil defense would just repeat their readiness for typhoons and earthquake. And that's all we can do. So also, a lot of the people would ask our governor to come out and speak to the people of Guam.

CHANG: Have you heard from the federal government about taking possible specific precautions?

MCDONALD: Yes, and they also have advised the people to take precautionary measures the same way we take it when we're preparing for the typhoons and earthquake.

CHANG: All right, that's Paul McDonald, the mayor of Agana Heights in Guam. Thank you very much for joining us this morning.

MCDONALD: You're welcome.

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