Moon Jae-in says South Korea should be able to say “No” to the US

Posted on : 2017-03-13 17:35 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
In New York Times interview, Moon discusses need to bring North Korea back to negotiating table
Former Minjoo Party leader Moon Jae-in speaks at a press conference at the party headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood
Former Minjoo Party leader Moon Jae-in speaks at a press conference at the party headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido neighborhood

“Whether we put pressure and sanctions on North Korea or engage in dialogue to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, we have no choice but to acknowledge that Kim Jong-un is the person we’re actually dealing with,” said Moon Jae-in, former leader of the Minjoo Party and leading presidential candidate for South Korea’s opposition, on Mar. 12. Moon also addressed China’s retaliatory measures against the THAAD missile defense system deployment: “While I fully understand that China is worried and voicing its opposition, the THAAD deployment is strictly a South Korean security issue and falls within our sovereignty. It’s not right for China to go beyond expressing its opposition by putting excessive pressure to make its opposing view a reality.”

This was how Moon responded to reporters who asked him how he would address the North Korean nuclear issue and the THAAD deployment issue in a press conference at the headquarters of the Minjoo Party in Seoul, on Mar. 12. In an article printed on Mar. 10, the New York Times quoted Moon as saying that South Korea’s relationship with the US should be developed and strengthened, but that it should not be lopsided. Moon also said that South Korea should to learn to “say ‘No’ to the Americans,” the New York Times reported.

A Mar. 10 New York Times interview article with Moon Jae-in
A Mar. 10 New York Times interview article with Moon Jae-in

After Moon’s interview and press conference were made public, the Liberty Korea Party and the Bareun Party launched an attack on Moon focusing on his “insecure view of security.” Yoo Seong-min, a presidential candidate for the Bareun Party, took issue with Moon‘s remarks about “understanding” that China is voicing its opposition and about “acknowledging” Kim Jong-un as a partner for dialogue. “These remarks can be seen as nothing but a revocation of our military sovereignty and a pledge to do the bidding of China and Kim Jong-un. If such a candidate is elected president, our ties with the US will be shaken to the core, we’ll have to kowtow to pressure from China and abandon our military sovereignty and we‘ll be taken hostage by North Korea’s nuclear and missile blackmail and be dragged around as they please,” Yoo said.

“Moon was speaking of a foreign policy that is focused on the national interest without being tilted to one side. Do they mean that the Republic of Korea, as a sovereign state, has to always say ‘yes’ to the requests of the US simply because the US is our ally?” said Lim Jong-seok, chief of staff for Moon’s campaign, in rebuttal of this criticism.

“During the interview [with the New York Times], which was conducted in Korean, Moon did not directly say that South Korea has to be able to say ‘no’ to the Americans. We didn’t ask for a correction of the article, however, because this was consistent with the intent of his remarks, which emphasized a foreign policy focused on the national interest,” Moon‘s camp said.

By Lee Jung-ae, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

Related stories