Last month the President treated the globe to another spasm of his international strategery:
That’s why it came as such a bite when U.S. President Donald Trump, in a typically careless comment, claimed that he had learned from Chinese President Xi Jinping that “Korea actually used to be a part of China.” The South Korean Foreign Ministry took about a week before officially correcting Trump’s false claim, dismissing it as “not worthy of a response.” Sino-Korean relations have ranged from amity to diplomatic submission to fierce wars of resistance, but Korea was never ruled by China. But Trump followed up his historical blunder by more present insults: a threat to terminate the free trade agreement with South Korea, which Trump called “horrible,” and a demand that South Korea pay for THAAD, the American anti-ballistic missile defense system, reversing the previous agreement.
The repeated snubs hit a raw spot during the South Korean presidential debates, counting down to the May 9 election. Social media has been buzzing with outrage over America’s gapjil (bossy bullying), which treats Koreans as a hogu (pushover).Social media has been buzzing with outrage over America’s gapjil (bossy bullying), which treats Koreans as a hogu (pushover). Trump’s insults came on the heels of the past five months of protests that led to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye. Park was the daughter of another former president and thus the closest thing to royalty in modern South Korea. Her fall was a revolt against bullying by the rich and powerful — like Trump.
But the distaste for Trump’s bullying is compounded by long-standing anti-American feelings. South Koreans have always been deeply ambivalent about the U.S. troop presence in their country, and there are regular protests outside military bases. That can sometimes peak violently, as in 2002 when U.S. troops on maneuver accidentally ran over two 14-year-old girls and an American military court acquitted them of any wrongdoing. Between THAAD and Trump, another of these periods may be coming.
The first foreign dignitary to be invited by the Trump administration was Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, a country still loathed by many South Koreans for its brutal almost four-decade occupation of their homeland. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added to the sense of insult during his first Asia tour in March, when he refused to eat dinner with South Korean officials but dined with his Japanese and Chinese counterparts; the snub made national headlines. Finally, the sudden threat to proffer a billion-dollar bill for THAAD, less than 10 days before the presidential election, was a slap in the face. Each of these dismissals is being remembered and collected — and eventually a moment will come when the collective emotion of anti-Americanism explodes into protests that will shock Washington.And so it seems to be, the BBC reports this morning:
"South Korean voters have overwhelmingly chosen the liberal candidate Moon Jae-in as their next president, an exit poll suggests.
"It put Mr Moon on 41.4%, with his nearest challenger, conservative Hong Joon-Pyo, on 23.3%.
"Mr Moon favours greater dialogue with North Korea, in a change to current South Korean policy.
"The early election was called after a corruption scandal led to the impeachment of the former president.
"A Moon Jae-in presidency would represent a real shift in attitude towards North Korea. His policy is to increase contact with North Korea, in contrast to the tighter sanctions of the last ten years. He is unhappy about the deployment of a US anti-missile system on South Korean soil.
"When Mr Moon was last in government, in the early 2000s, South Korea had a "Sunshine Policy" which meant co-operation with North Korea, a policy which was abandoned as North Korea tested nuclear weapons.
"As policy in South Korea looks like shifting, many sceptics remain who think that no amount of talking to Kim Jong-un will persuade him to renounce either his despotic power or his nuclear ambitions.
"For the last eight years, Seoul and Washington have been in lock-step over North Korea, with ever tighter sanctions and isolation. That is not Mr Moon's way. Is it Donald Trump's?
"Who is Moon?
"The son of refugees from North Korea, Mr Moon was jailed while a student in the 1970s for leading protests against military ruler Park Chung-hee - Ms Park's father.
"Later, he served in South Korea's special forces before becoming a human rights lawyer.
"He has positioned himself as the man who can move the country on from the scandals of Ms Park's era.
"I feel that not only my party and myself but also the people have been more desperate for a change of government," he said while casting his vote.
What are his policies?
"Mr Moon has advocated greater dialogue with the North while maintaining pressure and sanctions, in contrast to Ms Park who cut almost all ties.
He has been critical of the two previous conservative administrations for failing to stop North Korea's weapons development..."