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Presidents Moon and Trump getting on first-name terms

Posted October. 31, 2017 07:18,   

Updated October. 31, 2017 09:27


“Jae-in, don’t worry,” said U.S. President Donald Trump during the phone call that he had with South Korean President Moon Jae-in after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on September 4. The U.S. president called his South Korean counterpart by his first name “Jae-in,” instead of addressing him as President Moon.

According to multiple officials at the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae on Monday, the U.S. president is increasingly referring to President Moon as “Jae-in” in phone calls. “Mr. Trump uses the official title President Moon as it is a formal phone call, but he also addresses President Moon by his first name “Jae-in” at times,” explained an official from the presidential office. It is a sign that the two heads of state have become more familiar with each other through many meetings and phone calls. Since he took office, President Moon has had two summit meetings and five phone calls with President Trump. Mr. Trump often calls Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by his first name Shinzo.

The presidential office said that President Trump understands President Moon much better than perceived by many. On a phone call meeting, President Moon asked for cooperation for lifting limits on the payload of South Korean ballistic missiles, and President Trump swiftly promised to order his aides to work together more proactively (with South Korea) on this issue.

Against this backdrop, the South Korean presidential office is considering events to increase the affinity between the two heads of state during President Trump’s 2-day visit to South Korea, which is slated for November. “We are discussing various ways including a private meeting between the two heads of state at Sangchunjae, a reception room located Cheong Wa Dae,” said an official from the presidential office. The gesture is to reciprocate President Trump’s invitation into his private rooms at the White House during President Moon’s visit to the United States in June.

Sang-Jun Han alwaysj@donga.com