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2017-11-05 19:03
By Michael McManus



Some people here in Seoul think that because we both are Wharton 1968 alumni, there is something special.  I do know we both went through the same Zeitgeist, and turmoil like that can shape us or damage us.  I survived well as an academic and entrepreneur.  Now some of my good friends here in Seoul want me to write you a letter.  Call it “suggestions for your visit”.  As a US citizen living and teaching here in Seoul for 6 years, I will offer at least some insights.

So here we are after about ten or so US Presidents and after the watershed event of the Truman-MacArthur clash about what to do, the can is rolling faster down the road after so many kicks!  Maybe the slogan is “Let’s stop the can!”.

Suggestions in no particular order:

1.      You have support here, but also many cynics.  It is interesting, the Koreans who support you are exactly the ones I would have hoped do so.  No accidents!

2.      Streets are safe here; take a walk in the evening and see the Lantern Festival.  You and the First Lady will find it uniquely beautiful.

3.      Food:  Koreans are most proud of the local cuisine and Kimchee is the big one.  You may be served some of the best but there is a wide range of tastes. 

4.      Children—among the cutest in the world.  Mother-daughter combinations are especially beautiful.  Mrs. Trump will enjoy this so much.

5.      Koreans will follow President Moon’s preferred approach concerning the future (73% favorability).  He is opposed to nuclear power, and wants the ROK to have leadership command of the Joint Forces.  That discussion could be very slow and political.  If I may suggest that in your major speech here you help the Korean people understand that the US has its own specific set of issues of homeland security, as well as those of the ROK, Japan, and others.

6.      Redline.  It may be the time now to set the doctrine.  One-NK agrees to talk with the full six party group of nations.  Two-if NK acts toward the US or any of its allies with specific threats, actions or starts an incursion of any kind, the US will quickly retaliate militarily on a large and powerful scale.  The cuffs are off, and people of the US and our friends in the ROK, Japan and the region, in fact all around the world, will not ever let NK achieve symmetrical MAD status with any country it wants to bully.  NK rulers and their people need to understand that unification will never, ever permit the North’s political system to encroach on the ROK’s democracy.  Mr. Rocket man needs to get real, stop playing with fire, and do the right things for his people, or get the hell out.

7.      The Korean people need extreme reassurance.

8.      Be careful of appeasers.

9.      Help them understand the mood of the US people is one of anger and frustration with these circumstances.  The minute that Rocketman would mention a specific target or city on the mainland US, the Americans will react and it could be the tripwire.

10.     At all events in Korea, remember that Korean pride is operating everywhere.  No one wants war.  Like in 1939 when Hitler threatened all of Europe and the US, this is a time to get real and serious.  But in the last analysis, Mr President, you have the defense and unbelievable offense if and when needed.


Dr. Michael McManus writes exclusively for the Korea Times.  He currently serves as Honorary Guest Professor and Strategic Advisor at Gachon University.  Write to him at mcmismism@aol.com


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