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2017-10-27 16:16
Strategic thinking sorely missed

Freedom of expression should be respected, but equally important is that this basic right can be guaranteed only when national security is on firm ground.

Ahead of U.S. President Trump’s visit, there has been a string of anti-American and anti-Trump protests. In Busan, anti-American activists crashed the U.S. Navy’s birthday party on Oct. 14. They called Trump a “dotard,” the same peculiar word that North Korea’s Kim Jong-un used in his condemnation of the U.S. president, chanted“Yankees go home” and lumped the attendees as the hobnobbing war-crazy Trump’s goons. There was a scuffle between the protestors and security personnel.

On Oct. 17, a progressive group, which led a human-chain protest around the U.S. Embassy earlier this year, demanded that the U.S. stop amassing aircraft carriers and other strategic assets around the Korean Peninsula, citing the move as a war-triggering threat.

Now reports have it that the labor and anti-American organizations will gather forces to follow Trump during his two-day stay and stage a non-stop protest. At least four major protests are planned starting Nov. 1 until Trump’s Nov. 8 departure. The demonstrations include a protest outside Cheong Wa Dae when Trump has a summit with President Moon Jae-in, a candlelit rally in Gwanghwmun during the state dinner and a protest outside the National Assembly during his speech.

True, Korea is proud of direct democracy whose power is well illustrated by the recent candlelight protest that toppled the corrupt head of state. But that proud democratic tradition cannot be preserved when the nation is in danger.

The nation is threatened by the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles. Repeatedly, the North has made it clear that Seoul will be the first target of its weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. is Korea’s ally that has helped protect it from the North’s threat.

This friend-foe dichotomy could not be clearer.

If the protestors deny this, what is their alternative? Do they believe that the U.S. will not leave because of its strategic interest; that Seoul could defend itself against the North or that Kim Jong-un would suddenly turn into an angel and seek reconciliation?

Even if these delusions were true, few people would be willing to see what happened if any of them actually took place?

Besides, there are no grounds to assume the protesters’ anti-American sentiment represents a majority, rather the likelihood being that they are a weak but noisy minority.

The ongoing anti-Trump protests are triggering an anti-Korean backlash among the American public, a worrisome development that can harm the two countries’ long friendship, which has reached well beyond the military alliance. One YouTube clip containing anti-American protests has gone viral, triggering angry responses from Americans.

The two countries’ alliance started well before Trump and is worth maturing after he is gone. The protesters should keep this in mind. 

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