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US Keeps Close Eye on Developments in N. Korea Updated: 2011-12-20 00:00:00 KST

The sudden death of North Korea's "Dear Leader" has stirred different reactions in the United States.
At the ground level in the city of Los Angeles, the sentiment is one of sympathy regarding the future of North Korea.
At the State level, the Obama administration had little to say except that it was "closely monitoring reports."
Professor David Kang from the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California says the muted response from the White House had been expected.

[Interview : David Kang, Professor
Univ. of Southern California ] "We've had very difficult time with negotiation. I don't think the US wants to appear too eager to support a country they have criticized for years and years."

However, in Los Angeles, ordinary Americans aren't reluctant to express their concern and hope for a more open and stable North Korea.

[Interview : Wilma Pinder, Resident
Los Angeles] "I remain concerned, like many Americans. This is reflected by the stock market today. As a person who has visited South Korea, I am prayerful that NK will remain as stable as it is and there won't be consequences for South Korea."

[Interview : Tony Gallegos, Resident
Los Angeles] "Hopefully things will change in Korea and the people will see what is going on. I want to see peace over that country. They have suffered for too long."

[Interview : Josh Herman, Resident
Los Angeles] "I was concerned about what happened if Kim Jong-un took over. I was hoping things will get better for NK given how atrocious he was to the people."

Experts say there are more uncertainties ahead as Kim Jong-un's leadership remains untested and highly unpredictable.

[Interview : David Kang, Professor
Univ. of Southern California] "I think people are concerned because as bad as Kim Jong-il was, we basically knew him, and they understood us. With the new ruling regime, no one knows."

Professor Sung Sohn at the California State University Channel Island hopes the change in regime will open the door to fresh dialogue.

[Interview : Sung Sohn, Professor
CSUCI] "People around the world need to realize that not a lot has changed. Still, the new regime may decide to start a fresh dialogue with the West and South Korea."

Kang agrees with the possibility of more open communication, but adds it will take time.

[Interview : David Kang, Professor
Univ. of Southern California] "It took Kim Jong-il three years before he formally became head of state."

Despite the death of a long-time dictator, key issues surrounding the Korean peninsula remain unresolved.
Washington and Seoul continue to call on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions and the impoverished state continues to demand for food aid.

As Pyeongyang undergoes changes under a new leadership, Washington remains cautious keeping a watchful eye on the events unfolding in the communist state.
Reporting for Arirang News, Sara Sohn, Los Angeles.
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