U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Seoul on November 7 and held a joint press conference following their summit. Trump’s statement was noticeably toned down in contrast to his past remarks on North Korea. It did not contain threats of “fire and fury” or military action against North Korea.
- Trump and Moon agreed to resolve the “North Korean nuclear issue” in a “peaceful manner” and establish “permanent peace” on the Korean peninsula;
- But they also reaffirmed their commitment to the strategy of “maximum pressure,” i.e. intensifying military pressure and sanctions against North Korea.
- Trump reiterated complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea as the U.S.’ goal (North Korea has repeatedly said it will not discuss denuclearization as long as the United States maintains its “hostile policy” against it).
- Trump and Moon agreed to increase rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets on and around the Korean peninsula.
- At South Korea’s request, they also finalized an agreement to lift the payload limit on South Korean ballistic missiles.
- Trump’s primary mission in South Korea was as salesman in chief for the U.S. defense industry.
- He praised U.S.’ military assets as the “greatest in the world” and announced, “[South Korea will] be ordering billions of dollars’ worth of equipment, and we’ve already approved some of those orders.”
- A Blue House official met with reporters to clarify that military equipment deals are in the works but nothing has been “approved” or finalized as Trump suggested.
- He did note that South Korea is interested in acquiring and/or developing high-tech strategic assets including nuclear submarines and military spy technology.
South Koreans Defy Police Barricades to Protest Trump
November 7 – Day of Trump’s arrival
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters gathered in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Plaza.
- South Korean riot police erected a wall of police buses — a tactic begun and widely used by the conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye administrations — to barricade the protesters.
- The “No Trump Joint Action Task Force” — made up of over 220 civil society organizations — denounced the bus barricades: “Moon Jae-in, the self-proclaimed ‘president of the candlelight revolution,’ ordered police bus barricades to quarantine the people who have gathered to protest Trump, who habitually spouts war threats and bullies other countries through forced weapons sales and trade pressure.”
Later that night, protesters gathered outside the Hyatt Hotel, where Trump was staying.
- As Trump was returning to his hotel after his welcome banquet with Moon Jae-in, protesters threw paper cups and glow-in-the-dark sticks on the road and forced Trump’s motorcade to turn around and take a different route to the Hyatt Hotel.
November 8 – Trump’s speech at South Korea’s National Assembly
National Assembly representatives of the progressive Minjung Party staged a silent protest against Trump.
- While other lawmakers greeted Trump with a standing ovation, Kim Jong-hoon and Yoon Jong-oh of the Minjung Party held up signs that read, “No war; we want peace.”
- Representative Kim Jong-hoon explained their action in a statement following Trump’s speech to the National Assembly: “It is normal in a democratic country to have at least one or two of the three hundred National Assembly members stand for the citizens, who genuinely yearn for peace… We wanted to pass on the voice of the people in a peaceful manner.”
Thousands protested outside the National Assembly building on the morning of Trump’s address to South Korean lawmakers.
All images in this article are from Zoom in Korea.