North Korea claims it has missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, but its latest threat is against Guam, a much closer target.
The small island in the Pacific is home to an important strategic US air base, US nuclear bombers and about 6,000 troops along with some 165,000 civilians. It’s a US territory, so an attack on Guam would be an attack on the US.
The Guamanian authorities were quick to say there was nothing to fear from North Korea’s angry rhetoric.
“I want to reassure the people of Guam that currently there is no threat to our island,” Governor Eddie Baza Calvo said in a statement on Facebook, adding that the island was “prepared for any eventuality”.
But it has left many on the tourism-reliant island concerned.
“Yes, of course people are worried,” front desk manager at a local hotel, Adele, told the BBC.
“It is scary to think that there is a threat from North Korea on Guam.”
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The story is all over the local media on Guam, adding to the nervousness of the residents.
“We should all prepare for whatever happens” Adele warned, saying she planned to stock up on food after work, in case the crisis escalates.
“Many people are taking such precautions. We’re keeping an eye on the news and we’re all praying that the military will help us”, she said.
It is not the first time the small island has found itself named as a potential target for North Korean rockets – aside from US military bases in South Korea or Japan, the Pacific Island is the closest target for Pyongyang should the regime want to attack the US.
But Congresswoman for Guam Madeleine Z Bordallo said in a statement the most recent threat was “dangerous and it further heightens tensions in our region”.
But while local media are citing many residents sharing the heightened concern, not everyone is fazed by the situation.
“It’s not a big deal,” Cathleen Viray told the BBC.
When national media says Guam is “home to 1000s of military and their families” like the rest of us don’t matter 😂🤔
Local dive instructor Yuka who caters mostly to Japanese tourists, agreed with Cathleen.
People are concerned because it’s in the media, she explained, but said she herself was not too worried.
“But I think this is moving too far too fast – and that we haven’t really given diplomacy a chance yet.”