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LKP doubts Trump’s commitment to alliance

Aug 02,2019
It takes nerve for a conservative lawmaker in South Korea to call out the president of the United States. Rep. Baek Seung-joo, from the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), which often hails the South Korea-U.S. alliance while taking every chance to castigate the communist North, put so much thought into his plan to calling out President Donald Trump on Twitter that he even took to national radio the day before to hint at his plan in an apparent bid to drum up some public support.

“I’m thinking about sending President Donald Trump a tweet,” Rep. Baek cautiously said during the radio interview with MBC on Monday, taking issue with Trump’s downplay of Pyongyang’s short-range ballistic missile launches last week.

The next day, he followed through.

Rep. Baek included Trump’s Twitter handle (@realDonaldTrump) in a tweet that read, “Dear President Trump, NO, THANK YOU! Your comments on NK’s recent missile tests are sending a wrong message to and spoiling Kim, Jong-un. The tests were grave threats to Korea, Japan, and US people here. Not your concern? -ROK Assemblyman BAEK, Seungjoo.”

As Trump continues to cozy up to North Korea and brag about his “very good relationship” with the country’s leader Kim Jong-un despite the regime’s violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, several conservative lawmakers in South Korea, like Rep. Baek, have openly expressed displeasure about a White House chief they think is nothing like past American presidents who sided with the South over the North.

Recent reports that the Trump administration is pressuring Seoul to pay more for stationing U.S. troops in the South are adding fuel to fire.

“President Trump doesn’t know the meaning of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” LKP Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, who heads the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, told the JoongAng Ilbo. “He’s only busy bragging about the fact that North Korea is keeping its promise to halt nuclear and long-range ballistic missile tests because he wants to get re-elected.”

Yoon said the LKP was considering sending a “message” to Trump to remind him about his role as the “guardian” of the South Korea.-U.S. alliance.

Seo Jung-kun, a professor of political science and international relations at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, said South Korea’s political circle needed to seriously ponder its U.S. strategy in the changed environment.

“The U.S. is no longer the U.S. that South Korean conservatives thought it was,” said Seo.

“Local conservatives look up to the South Korea-U.S. alliance as some sort of sacred value, but what’s the point of stressing the alliance when one of the two pillars has changed?”

BY SUNG JI-WON [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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