By Workers Solidarity (South Korean sister organisation of the SWP)
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‘No Trump, No war’ protests greet US president in South Korea

This article is over 6 years, 7 months old
Issue 2580
Demonstrating on Tuesday at the square where Trump passed by
Demonstrating on Tuesday at the square where Trump passed by (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Donald Trump visited South Korea during 7 and 8 November. Three aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines came to the Korean Peninsula with him.

But he has also faced the wrath of protesters.

At a joint press conference with the South Korean president, and at the Korean National Assembly Trump consistently threatened North Korea.

He said he is prepared to use “the full range of our unmatched military capabilities”. He demanded that China, Russia and other countries “downgrade diplomatic relations with the regime, and sever all ties of trade and technology”.

He also spoke about “the peace of the Indo-Pacific region”—his latest code name for military containment against China—and demanded South Korea makes more of a contribution.

His speeches plainly showed that inviting Trump does not contribute to peace for the Korean Peninsula.

However, the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, assisted Trump by saying, “It’s not the right time to talk about permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula … We must focus on sanctions and pressure [toward North Korea] for now.”

LGBT+ activists spoke out. Their placard says, Homophobic Trump not welcome
LGBT+ activists spoke out. Their placard says, ‘Homophobic Trump not welcome’ (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Moon also promised to spend “billions of dollars” to buy US weaponry. All the members of parliament endorsed Trump’s National Assembly speech with an ovation, except for the two members with Stalinist backgrounds.

Moon is leading the first bourgeois reformist, populist government after nine years of rightwing governments.

He was lucky enough to come to the post after the movement that rocked South Korea between late 2016 and early 2017 which removed the then president.

Many who had expected Moon to promote peace are now being disillusioned, although many people still retain illusions in him.

Moon’s attitude toward the US, and his method of dealing with the unstable geopolitics of East Asia, is starting to reveal his government’s true essence.

When Moon announced that he invited Trump, he called for Koreans to “welcome Donald Trump as a guest.”

But the left started to build an anti-Trump movement, arguing that it is important to remain politically independent from the government.

On Tuesday Trump could not drive down his planned route because of protests
On Tuesday Trump could not drive down his planned route because of protests (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Due to such efforts, anti-Trump rallies were held in all major cities last Saturday. When Trump arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, a thousand people gathered at the square where he was destined to pass by. When the vehicles approached, people shouted and held signs, overcoming the police’s violent efforts to hide the protest.

That night when Trump was leaving the Presidential Palace, he had to drive in the opposite lane to evade the protesters.

Trump also had to use the side gate when he was entering the National Assembly on the next day due to hundreds of protesters waiting for him at the main gate.

Most important was the political effect of raising an independent voice against Trump. It showed to the people, both domestic and global, that the movement from below existed as an alternative to the negotiations between the capitalist state leaders.

The anti-Trump movement received wide media attention, too, both domestic and global.

The anti-Trump movement marked the beginning of the peace movement against the military alliance between US and South Korea.

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