South Korean civic groups on Thursday launched a campaign against US President Donald Trump ahead of his upcoming two-day visit here, blasting him for ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Led by the nation’s second-largest umbrella labor group Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, some 220 left-wing civic organizations joined the campaign, as military tensions have escalated here in the wake of a heated war of words between Pyongyang and Washington in recent months.
The progressive groups said they will hold large-scale rallies against the US and Trump under the slogan of “No Trump No War People’s Rally,” starting on Nov. 4 near the US Embassy in central Seoul.
“Who can possibly welcome a foreign leader who talks about the possibility of a war on their land?” the association of anti-war civic groups said during a press briefing.
Activists from an association of 220 left-wing civic groups hold up placards that express their opposition to US President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Korea scheduled for Nov. 7-8, during a press briefing in central Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
President Trump is scheduled to visit Korea from Nov. 7-8 to reaffirm the Korea-US alliance, as part of his 11-day Asian trip.
During the trip, he is expected to increase pressure on the North -- which is seemingly inching closer to putting the US mainland within the range of its nuclear-tipped missiles -- to give up its weapons program and rally support for his strategy of isolating the communist regime economically.
Trump warned in August the US would unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if it continued provocations. Since then, the North has conducted a massive underground nuclear test and launched several ballistic missiles.
“We should take the path of peace, not war. We cannot help but protect peace on our land and our livelihood for ourselves,” the civic groups said, dismissing the Moon Jae-in administration’s diplomacy as “humiliating” and “neglecting” its responsibility to protect its people.
Several protests by civic groups are set to be staged in central Seoul in the week leading up to Trump’s visit to Seoul. When he arrives on Nov. 7, the civic groups will hold a candlelight vigil chanting “No Trump, No War” at Gwanghwamun Square. They will also hold a protest outside the National Assembly building when Trump addresses the parliament on Nov. 8.
Far-left groups have traditionally demanded Korea pursue a more independent foreign policy without being swayed by its powerful allies, particularly the US. It believes the US has used the Korean Peninsula’s continued tensions as an opportunity to sell its weapons and exert influence over East Asia.
Through the anti-US protests, the civic groups plan to call on the US to stop threatening to start a war, putting pressure on the North and forcing the South to buy American-made weapons.
They also want the withdrawal of the US Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system, which they say caters only to US interests while widening the divide between South Korea and China. China, which believes the system’s radar could be used to spy on its territory, has taken what appear to be retaliatory actions against Korea, such as restrictions on Korean firms’ businesses in China.
They also want the abolishment of the Korea-US bilateral trade deal, which the two countries have recently begun to renegotiate at Trump’s urging, saying the trade deal only benefits the US and disadvantages Korea, especially local farmers.
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)