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2017-06-21 16:43
By Jun Ji-hye 

President Moon Jae-in’s special adviser, Moon Chung-in, said Wednesday it was hard to understand why his remarks made in Washington caused such a huge stir.



Moon Chung-in
He said this to reporters who were waiting for him at Incheon International Airport to ask about the controversy over his recent proposal to reduce the scale of the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises if North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile programs. He also suggested a willingness to reduce dispatches of U.S. strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula.

The suggestions were controversial as they could be seen as undermining the allies’ joint efforts to curb the North’s nuclear and missile threats.

He claimed he made the remarks just as a scholar during an academic conference, even losing his temper with the reporters.

As he said, the suggestions were made during a Wilson Center seminar in Washington, Friday.

But he was wrong when he said he made the suggestions as a scholar.

Currently, he is not merely a Yonsei University professor who has been famous for several outspoken remarks, as he also serves as the special presidential adviser for unification, security and foreign affairs.

This means his comments on all occasions could be understood as carrying political meaning and reflecting the position of the government.

Bearing this in mind, some high-ranking military and government officials have used forums and academic conferences as venues to promote their government’s position on certain issues.

In June 2014, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who was serving as the U.S. Forces Korea commander at the time, raised the need at a lecture to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on South Korean soil.

Since then, debates about the THAAD deployment within and outside the nation at various sectors continued for about two years, and the two nations actually agreed on the deployment in July 2016.

Moon Chung-in’s remarks that he made the controversial suggestions just as a scholar are irresponsible.

He should recognize the weight of his comments as a presidential aide because his remarks could impact the nation’s diplomacy, especially when President Moon is scheduled to hold a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next week.

Indeed, U.S. experts have already expressed their concerns over the adviser’s remarks in various media interviews.

For their part, the U.S. armed forces made a rare announcement Tuesday that two B-1B Lancers, based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, flew over the peninsula in a joint exercise with South Korean fighter jets.

The rare disclosure was construed as the U.S. indirectly expressing its discontent over the adviser’s controversial remarks.

His comments have already led to various controversies and interpretations, which would not have happened if he had been just a scholar.

He needs to watch his language as a presidential aide.  

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