Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Reporter Paul Kim
For the first time in a long, long time, the President of the Republic of Korea cancelled his summer vacation due to the pressing need to handle a critical situation surrounding the country. President Moon Jae-in has cancelled his five-day scheduled summer leave (July 29-August 2), which is the first time has had done in the first three years of his five-year term.
According to officials of the Presidential Mansion of Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 28, President Moon has cancelled his five-day leave and decided to continue working at his office at Cheong Wa Dae. However, according to reports, Moon instructed that his cancellation of leave will not affect the vacation schedule of other members of the Presidential Office.
The main cause of Moon’s cancellation of summer vacation is attributed to Japan’s restriction of exports to South Korea, North Korea’s firing of guided missiles and a series of other issues that have recently occurred in and surrounding Korea, including the intrusion of the Republic of Korea air space by the Russian and Chinese planes.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan seems to be in the forefront in giving Moon and the people of South Korea a hard time. For the first time in the Korean-Japanese trade relations, Abe is taking steps to restrict Japan’s export of electronic components, for which Korea has been heavily relying on Japan.
In the opinion of many Koreans, especially the young generation, Abe is driving a wedge between the peoples of Korea and Japan. They are saying, “Prime Minister Abe is taking President Moon and the Korean people by surprise as he has not given any advance warning that they had clearly head of.”
So, is President Moon completely free from blame over this situation?
No. A good number of Koreans, especially the established generation, claim that Moon has gone ‘too close to Chairman Kim of North Korea’ at the expense of friendship and trust among Korea, the United States, Japan and other allies of the West.
The cause of Japan’s economic sanctions against Seoul is the ROK’s ‘secret’ deal with North Korea according to Japan’s claim, which has yet to be proven publicly.
The diplomatic and security situation of South Korea has never been more tense. The Korean people, especially the conservatively oriented established generation in the 50s to 70s in Korea, are extremely concerned over the ‘diplomatic chaos’ they are witnessing in the recent months.
At the present moment, Japan is in the forefront making the Korean people worried.
Many people in Korea, especially the young generation, tend to find fault with Japan for one-sidedly imposing ‘undue’ restrictions on the free trade agreement between Korea and Japan.
However, the conservatively minded established generation in Korea in the 50s and older also have the Korean government of President Moon Jae-in in their mind to blame and question the propriety of a recent series of measures taken in dealing with North Korea and Japan.
At this juncture, Joongang Sunday (a Korean-language weekly) on July 27, 2019 published a very interesting story dealing with the critical situation involving Korea, Japan, North Korea, the United States, China and Russia. It said in part: An unprecedentedly critical diplomatic and security situation is developing surrounding South Korea. Japan is dealing unprecedentedly serious retaliatory economic attacks on South Korea and Russia is seriously violating South Korea’s air space together with China.
Effort for the denuclearization of North Korea is making no progress, not even one step forward.
The South-North Korean relations are also in a worst stage of strain. Against this backdrop, North Korea fired short-range missiles for the first time in 77 days.
The situation is developing in an opposite direction of President Moon’s inter-Korean rapport policy where Moon claims, “The Korean problem must be solved by the Koreans themselves!”
At this juncture, the U.S. is bringing pressure on South Korea to increase Korea’s burden of the cost of the U.S. Forces stationed in South Korea and dispatching of Korean troops to the Strait of Hormuz, which might put South Korea in a situation that could make Iran displeased.
Koreans have an expression reading Samyeon Choga (四面楚歌) referring to troops completely surrounded by the enemy. The expression literally translates, “surrounded by enemies on all sides.”
Politicians, academicians and various other segments of people in Korea and round the world offer suggestions. But none of them seem to work—at least until this time.