President Donald Trump on Sunday called out South Korea for allegedly engaging in “appeasement” with North Korea — but no one should expect the government in Seoul to hit back at him publicly anytime soon.
In an interview with the Washington Post, former State Department official David Straub, who is also an expert on Korea, says that Trump is widely loathed in the country as a whole. However, given that South Korea is so dependent on the United States to help ensure its security, it seems the government has little choice but to ignore Trump’s angry Twitter rants.
“Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don’t consider him to be a reasonable person,” Straub explained. “In fact, they worry he’s kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance.”
Straub also said Korean officials see Trump as an “unreasonable partner,” but they don’t want to speak out publicly against him because it would only make the situation worse than it already is.
John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul, nonetheless found it strange that Trump was being more aggressive about bashing South Korea than he was in criticizing China, especially since China has far more leverage it can use to change North Korea’s behavior.
“It sounds like [South Korean President Moon Jae-in] is saying, ‘We’re going to have to talk to these guys’ — which is true — and Trump is frustrated,” Delury said.