It has been confirmed that U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said that he would be the one to be criticized for reflecting the U.S. president’s stances if they are in conflict with public opinion in South Korea. He said this remark at a foreign press conference on Thursday when he expressed his concerns over South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s plan to reintroduce individual tours to North Korea. Such a comment of the ambassador was to highlight that his message about inter-Korean cooperation projects does not reflect his personal thoughts, but President Trump’s.
“I don’t take South Korea’s side when it comes to defense cost negotiations for the United States Forces Korea,” Harris emphasized. Regarding the comment that his mustache reminds South Koreans of the “Governor-General of Korea” in the Japanese colonial period, he responded, “Korean-independence activists Ahn Chang-ho and An Jung-geun also had a mustache, as well as a lot of people in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.”
The Trump administration has reconfirmed its support for the statement by the ambassador, which has caused controversy in South Korea. Spokesperson of the State Department Morgan Ortagus said that Ambassador Harris works in line with the opinions of the Secretary of State and the U.S. president on the Voice of America on Friday. She also added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has great faith in the ambassador. As such, Ambassador Harris’ behind-the-scenes influence with regards to the Trump administration’s policy towards the Korean Peninsula is likely to continue.
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