Tens of millions of people would lose their lives in a matter of hours if the US pushes for a military response in Korea, an Irish missionary who has spent almost 50 years working with Koreans has warned.
As tensions rise following nuclear weapons tests by North Korea, Fr Denis Monaghan SSC told The Irish Catholic that people in the south are worried that a reactionary approach from the US to the volatile regime in the north could provoke a devastating war.
Speaking from his base in Seoul this week Fr Monaghan (73) said: “We’ve had so many threats of war with North Korea saying they would burn us to the ground. Koreans are not worried about it, they’re more worried about Trump, because they’re used to the North Korean rhetoric.”
“The provocations come from the North all the time, I suppose it’s like crying wolf, but they are worried how Trump will react.”
With North Korea continuing to ignore global condemnation of their nuclear weapons tests, the UN Security Council is being advised by the US to take severe measures against the ‘rogue nation’.
Fr Monaghan said he believes that North Korea will use the threat of nuclear war to deter the US from intervening like they have done in the past, warning that “if they did millions of people would be killed in the first day”.
The missionary is stationed in Seoul, right on the border of the two tense nations.
Despite the delicate situation, Leitrim-born Fr Monaghan says he wouldn’t even consider leaving the Columban mission, saying: “No, the guys that are here, we wouldn’t even talk about leaving.”
Former Executive Secretary of the Irish Missionaries Union, Fr Hugh McMahon SSC, currently lives in Ireland but spent 30 years working in South Korea. He said that the violent rhetoric coming from North Korea is nothing new to the South Korean population, who take it in their stride.
However as the situation has ramped up in the last six months, he says the tension has “definitely increased” and that it seems South Korea are “beginning to get worried”.
The country’s leader Kim Jong-un has shown no signs of slowing down his race to nuclear armament, despite severe poverty plaguing his nation, Fr McMahon said: “He’s spending millions if not billions on these rockets and not on the people, there’s probably a lot of discontent, and the only way he can deal with the discontent is to tell them to listen to the Americans and the South Koreans, they’re ready to attack us, we have to have these things to keep them at bay.”