Report: South Korea office says reports Seoul ‘warned’ U.S. are ‘excessive’

The office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in is refuting claims the president challenged the United States in a speech he delivered on the 72nd anniversary of Korean independence on Tuesday.


South Korean newspaper Asia Business reported Wednesday the presidential Blue House disagrees with news reports suggesting Moon was warning the United States, and particularly U.S. President Donald Trump, on the anniversary marking Korean liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

“War must never break out again on the Korean peninsula. Only the Republic of Korea can make the decision for military action on the Korean peninsula,” the president said, while making no mention of the United States.
Following his remarks, newspapers like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Seoul “warned” the United States.

A South Korean official with the Blue House told Asia Business the claim Moon’s speech was a “warning” is “excessive.”

“The Republic of Korea and the United States are not only in close consultation with each other on North Korea, but also on various other diplomatic issues,” the Blue House official said. “The content of the August 15 message was to inform the world of the bond of sympathy between the United States and South Korea.”

The official said the message includes statements that suggest the position of the United States and South Korea are not that different, and added the South Korean president’s office has mentioned on several occasions it has been working closely with the White House National Security Council.

On Monday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said the United States is fully prepared to defend South Korea and allies in the region, and confirmed the current posture was defensive in nature.

By Elizabeth Shim