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U.S. Lawmakers Ask President Roh to Preserve MacArthur Statue

U.S. Lawmakers Ask President Roh to Preserve MacArthur Statue

Posted September. 20, 2005 06:42,   


Amid the ongoing controversy over the possible removal of a statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Korea, the U.S. Congress sent a letter to President Roh Moo-hyun.

On September 15, the U.S. House International Relations Committee sent a letter to President Roh through the U.S. embassy in Korea. The letter, signed by five committee members, including Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) said, “We would respectfully suggest that rather than allowing the General`s statue to be defaced or torn down, the people of Incheon and all of South Korea turn over the statue of General MacArthur to the American people.”

Hyde strongly criticized the current Korean government when he made a remark last April on the decision by the Ministry of National Defense to omit the term “main enemy,” referring to North Korea. He said that Seoul must clarify who its enemy is.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to Hyde on September 16. In the letter, Minister Ban committed the Korean government to preventing any attempt to demolish or damage the statue of MacArthur.

On the same day, Ban, visiting the U.S., had a press conference with South Korean correspondents stationed in New York and said, “I sent the letter to Chairman Hyde to explain the Korean government’s position on this matter on the order of President Roh Moo-hyun.” He added, “The government is highly worried about attempts to demolish the statue.”

In the letter, Ban said, “I understand your concerns and disappointment. Such a bid (to demolish MacArthur’s statue) runs counter to the ‘mature perception of history by South Koreans.’ The Korean government will do its best to thwart any attempt to demolish or damage the statue.”

In the letter, Ban also conveyed President Roh’s concerns over attempts to demolish the statue of MacArthur to the U.S. Congress. At the press conference, he said, “I said in the letter that a senior official at Cheong Wa Dae will meet those who oppose the statue of MacArthur and explain to them over and again the importance of the South Korean-U.S. alliance and the sacrifices of General MacArthur.”

Jong sik Kong kong@donga.com