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Many Guam Residents Aren't Worried About North Korea

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North Korea's threats to Guam highlight the unfairness of its territorial status

But officials in Guam, the tiny island territory that Kim Jong Un has threatened to attack, aren't keeping citizens in the dark.

But this week, as Pyongyang exchanged increasingly angry words with the USA, there are worries of a clash erupting along the heavily militarised frontier which divides the two Koreas.

The exercises are an annual event, but come as Pyongyang says it is readying a plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 missiles toward the tiny island, which is USA territory and major military hub.

About 160,000 people live on the island, which extends about 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) at its widest.

A drumbeat of threats by North Korea over the years has fostered a sense of resilience among the island's 162,000 inhabitants, whose lives are deeply intertwined with the U.S. military, which has 6,000 troops based there.

"I feel that the presence of the military on Guam will help us a lot", said Virgie Matson, 51, a resident of Dededo, Guam's most populated village.

"Things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?"

The possibility of a nuclear confrontation is considered remote but global alarm has been escalating in recent days.

As nuclear-armed North Korea's missile stand-off with the USA escalates, calls are mounting in the South for Seoul to build nuclear weapons of its own to defend itself -which would complicate the situation even further.

Trump declined to say whether the U.S.is considering a pre-emptive military strike as he spoke to reporters before a briefing with his top national security advisers. The United States has been threatened via a direct threat to Guam, which isn't just a host for Air Force and Navy bases. Their location in a US territory means its military is just hours from potential flashpoints in the western Pacific. A THAAD battery includes a truck-mounted launcher, tracking radar, interceptor missiles and an integrated fire control system.

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Spain ceded Guam to the U.S.in 1898, but the Japanese seized the island in 1941.

North Korea experts and diplomats have previously told Business Insider that Pyongyang may be willing to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for limitations on those exercises. They threatened USA, other countries, and they threaten Guam. The 163,000 residents that make up Guam's population, which includes 6,000 USA service members, are considered US citizens.

The naval base dates to 1898, when the US took over Guam from Spain after the Spanish-American War. Most recently, in March 2013, North Korean military officials made a statement about Andersen Air Force Base being within "striking range". Guam was also a refueling and transfer spot for people heading to Southeast Asia, and many refugees fleeing Saigon were evacuated through Guam.

As an unincorporated U.S. territory, citizens of Guam can not vote in general elections.

Guamanians have served in all major USA wars since World War II and see military service as a source of pride.

"They believe that we are not true USA citizens, when we do have plenty of Chamorro people going into the USA military and serving for their country and dying for their country", he said.

Its population is mostly Roman Catholic and about a third are Chamorro, descendants of the indigenous people Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first encountered in 1521. "And not a lot of Americans know that".

President Donald Trump is seeking continued help from China's president in addressing the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear developments.

In August a year ago, the North's Foreign Ministry warned that all US military bases in the Pacific including Guam would "face ruin in the face of all-out and substantial attack" by the North's military. The plan would be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval just before or as the U.S. Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco contributed reporting.

McAvoy reported from Honolulu.

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