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Kim Jong Il death: Happiness and caution in Koreatown

December 18, 2011 |  9:31 pm

Richard Chong’s first reaction was skepticism.

“Why are they releasing this information so easily” wondered the Koreatown resident after hearing reports that North Korean strongman Kim Jung II had died.

“Hopefully this is true, but in a country like this, you never know."

FULL COVERAGE: The death of Kim Jong Il

In grocery stores, shopping plazas and all-night diners in LA’s Koreatown, the news of Jong’s death was greeted with both unrestrained happiness and a deep sense of caution.

Residents and customers here, many of them of Korean descent, said they have come to see the North Korean dictator as a shadowy figure, capable of using body doubles and fake news reports to throw off the rest of the watching world.

Chong, a 27-year-old graduate student who was born in California but worked in South Korea, said he’s been fixated on following news out of Korea for years and has come to expect the unexpected out of North Korea.

“There is so much ridiculous news coming out of North Korea,” Chong said. “It’s just one thing after another."


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