Tourists visit Guam caring little about Kim threat

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 17 Aug 2017, 21:18:34
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Tourists visit Guam caring little about Kim threat

TUMON, Aug 17 (CNN): As the sun broke over the white sands of Guam's Tumon Beach, Duhyun Na and her friends made their way down to the shoreline with their smartphones and selfie sticks.

Their flight landed at 3 a.m., but they wanted to see the sunrise and get some photographs to start their five-day trip.

Vacationing in Guam during this particular moment in time, with the island ensnared in a heated exchange of threatening rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, may seem like a strange choice to some.

But Na and her friends aren't concerned about the saber rattling: they're South Korean.

"Always, North Korea threatens South Korea. It doesn't mean (anything) to us," she told CNN.

South Koreans have lived with the artillery of their belligerent neighbor pointed at them since the end of the Korean War in 1953. North Korean state media often says the country plans to turn the South Korean capital of Seoul into a "sea of fire."

Tourists like Na and her friends are one of the two keys to Guam's economy. The other is defense.

"The economy of Guam is based on two things: We sell paradise and we sell strategic location," George Charfauros, Guam's Homeland Security adviser said. "There is a delicate balance. We need to maintain that balance. One cannot outweigh the other."

About 40 per cent of Guam's economy is dependent on the military, which operates two important bases and owns a third of the island's land.

Tourism, however, is the lifeblood for the island's civilian population. The island broke a 20-year record for most visitors-more than 130,000 -- in a single month in July, according to the Guam Visitors Bureau. Tourists spend about $1.6 billion a year on Guam, whereas federal defense spending totals $2.0 billion.
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