U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments about the Korean peninsula and its historical relationship to China has sparked a diplomatic storm in Seoul.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Trump said, “Korea actually used to be a part of China.”
The president was referring to the peninsula as a whole and what he had learned about Northeast Asia from Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to Quartz.
“[Xi] then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years…and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China,” Trump said.
A Seoul foreign ministry official who spoke anonymously to local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo said the remark was “not even worth considering.”
“It is a clear historical fact Korea was not a part of China for thousands of years,” the official said. “Nobody can deny that.”
The remarks are uniting politicians across the spectrum.
Yoon Kwan-seok, a spokesman for the opposition Democratic or Minjoo Party of Korea, said “50 million South Koreans cannot hide their surprise and embarrassment” regarding the remarks.
Yoon also said China should “clarify what exactly President Xi said to President Trump and spell out the true meaning of the statement.”
Yoon suggested unification on the Korean peninsula would be realized without China’s meddling.
The party’s presidential nominee Moon Jae-in is leading in the polls.
The conservative Liberty Korea Party balked at the suggestion Korea was ever a part of China.
The party’s spokesman said that while Korea experienced “many ups and downs, our 5,000 years of established history is the pride of our nation.”
Candidate Yoo Seung-min of the conservative Bareun Party also slammed Xi in response to the statement.
“I seriously worry about President Xi’s misunderstandings of history,” Yoo said.
By Elizabeth Shim