The author is an international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
There is an old saying that you end up resembling the person you hate. It can be applied to the growing resemblance between the Donald Trump administration and the Moon Jae-in administration.
First the alliance. “No alliance can be a priority over national interests,” the Blue House said after it decided to end the Korea-Japan General Security of Military Information Agreement (Gsomia). Although its statement is more elegantly put than Trump’s remark that “our allies take advantage of us far greater than our enemies,” the key is that both leaders are dismissing the importance of alliances.
Trump is defending North Korea’s missile launches, although they are threats to Korea and Japan. The Moon administration is making public its summoning of the U.S. ambassador to Korea. They are acting no differently.
Money is the priority of the Trump administration, while emotion is the priority of the Moon administration. The issue is the amount of risk that comes with dismantling the alliance.
If the United States suffers a light jab over the rupture in the Korea-U.S. alliance, Korea will be knocked down. Risks often grow when you downplay them.
Both presidents seem to have no “real” aides. The Blue House insists that its communication with the White House is smooth. But that actually shows how the two presidential offices have failed to function — because they are only communicating without producing any positive outcomes. A source well-informed about the White House said any officials who are not submissive to the presidential family are being fired.
The Blue House is no different. It is working based on the amateurism and stubbornness of a few people rather than reason and common sense. The decision to scrap the Gsomia is an example. National Security Advisor Chung Eui-yong, a professional diplomat, knew better than anyone how damaging the decision would be to the national interest and how serious the aftermath is. He, however, remained tight-lipped. Instead of complaining to his friends in a private meeting, he should have protested it openly and resolutely. Because he failed to do so, he was pushed by his deputy Kim Hyun-chong and secretary Choi Jong-kun, who are “English language professionals.”
The decision to sever the Gsomia failed to hurt Japan, while allowing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to blame Korea for the worsened Seoul-Tokyo ties. At the same time, Korea is increasingly unfriendly with the United States. Officials of the Moon administration say the 66-year-old Korea-U.S. alliance won’t be shaken by the decision, but we wonder what is the source of their groundless confidence.
Both administrations are blaming “fake news” when they are cornered. Even suspicions that were proven true, they tend to ignore. Trump has been making a daily average of 12.2 false accusations, yet he criticized the media for airing fake news.
The Moon administration is now treating the truths about the academic misconduct of the daughter of Cho Kuk, justice minister nominee, as fake news. It seems that following in the steps of the Trump administration is becoming the fashion in Korean politics.
Let’s see how it works. First, you flatly deny an allegation. Second, when evidence is presented, you dismiss it. Third, if the evidence is solid, you attack the opponent by questioning his innocence on similar charges. Fourth, if that does not work, you just spin the story.
American teachers are reportedly the most perplexed by Trump’s hypocrisy and two-facedness. They cannot answer the questions of students, when they ask if the U.S. president is right. The teachers reportedly said they cannot say yes, but it is hard to deny the actions of the U.S. president.
Korean establishments may feel the same. Ideologies became overheated, while “confirmation biases” are flooding society. Generational conflict and ideological confrontation are a part of our lives. Society asks, “Whose side are you on?” Simply put, it is chaos. In such a situation, the best value is common sense. We must have an answer based on common sense.
“If you flunked two semesters, you must receive a warning, not scholarships for six consecutive semesters,” we should tell them. “If you commit a wrongdoing, you must lower your head and repent it, rather than attacking others with a brazen face.”
And we should also tell them, “If you disappointed the public by having nominated someone with various corruption allegations and special treatments, you should change the nominee, rather than blaming the college admission system. ”
JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 3, Page 30