“U.S. President Donald Trump's apparently offhand comment after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — that ‘Korea actually used to be a part of China’ — has enraged many South Koreans.
“The historically inaccurate sentence from a Wall Street Journal interview bumps up against a raft of historical and political sensitivities in a country where many have long feared Chinese designs on the Korean Peninsula. It also feeds neatly into longstanding worries about Seoul's shrinking role in dealing with its nuclear-armed rival, North Korea.
“Ahn Hong-seok, a 22-year-old college student, said that if Trump ‘is a person capable of becoming a president, I think he should not distort the precious history of another country.’
“Many here assume that Xi fed that ahistorical nugget to Trump, who also admitted that after 10 minutes listening to Xi, he realized that Beijing's influence over North Korea was much less than he had thought.”
Here's why Trump's comments strike a nerve in South Korea:
|(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)|
By Kim Tong-Hyung
Robert Reich addressed the issue:
Trump's offhand comment after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping — that "Korea actually used to be a part of China" — has enraged South Korea.
1. First, it’s not true. "Throughout the thousands of years of relations, Korea has never been part of China, and this is a historical fact that is recognized internationally and something no one can deny," said a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday, and almost all historians agree.
2. It's also a super-sensitive issue, since South Korea worries that in order to get China to put more influence on North Korea, the United States might loosen its protections of the South. Insecurities about both China's and Trump's intentions in the region will be among the big issues as South Koreans vote next month for their next president.
3. Finally, it plays right into South Korean nationalism. Korean newspapers lashed out at Trump over the comments, and at Xi for allegedly feeding the U.S. president Chinese-centric views.
Most U.S. presidents are carefully briefed before they talk about other countries. Trump blabs about anything, and doesn’t know what a briefing is.