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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Nov. 6)

2017/11/06 07:13

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Prevent violent protests

Radical activists desire to throw cold water on U.S. President Donald Trump's Nov. 7-8 visit to South Korea. His first trip to Seoul as president offers a great opportunity to reconfirm the decades-old Korea-U.S. alliance and lay a stepping stone for the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear threat. Despite the significance of his visit, anti-American groups are engaged in a campaign to hold him accountable for "blackmailing North Korea."

   Left-leaning groups plan to stage over 50 rallies to protest Trump's trip to South Korea. A coalition against Trump consisting of more than 220 civic groups and led by the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions threatened to hold rallies in front of the Blue House and the National Assembly. They claim that their action reflects the public sentiment expressed in the massive candlelight vigils that led to the ouster of President Park Geun-hye.

We are concerned about the possibility of an unfortunate happening during Trump's speech at the legislature. The leftist Minjung Pary, with only two seats in the Assembly, already held a press conference with residents of Seongju — the site where the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system has been deployed — to express their opposition to the U.S. president's trip. We cannot rule out the possibility of the radical party hurling insults during Trump's address in the legislature. National Assembly speaker Chung Sye-kyun and leaders of the ruling and opposition parties must do their best to prevent such a mishap.

But the Moon Jae-in administration is overly laid-back. Despite the media's repeated warnings about potentially violent protests, the Blue House kept mum until it hurriedly announced measures to ban protests in Gwanghwamun Square and in front of the presidential office. Given the character of anti-U.S. groups — a pillar of Moon's support — the police may treat them leniently.

Trump should be displeased after the Moon administration promised China to not deploy additional Thaad batteries, participate in a U.S.-led missile defense system or join a tripartite alliance with Washington and Tokyo. If he happens to see violent anti-U.S. protests in Seoul, that could trigger Trump's fundamental suspicion about the U.S. alliance with Korea. If Washington should server its alliance with Seoul, it invites North Korea to attack South Korea.

Japan welcomed Trump wholeheartedly. It will make a sharp contrast if he is not treated well in Korea. Without our alliance with the U.S., we can hardly deal with the North Korean nuclear threat.

(END)

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