On April 12, The Wall Street Journal ran a story quoting a statement by President Trump that instantly caused controversy about the history of Korea.
According to the WSJ, Trump said:
“[Chinese President Xi Jinping] then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years ... and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy.”
Although the comment that raised eyebrows in particular was:
“...Korea actually used to be a part of China.”
Trump claimed to have learned that bit of information during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida:
While the story ran nearly two weeks ago, it just gained the attention of those in Korea, and it's safe to say some are not happy about it.
Trump's comment has gone viral on South Korea's social media, mostly consisting of people being outraged, according to PRI.
The comment has gained so much attention in South Korea, that foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck tried to set the record straight on Thursday, according to ABC News:
“It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China.”
Meanwhile, 22-year-old college student Ahn Hong-seok said of Trump:
“If a person capable of becoming a president, I think he should not distort the precious history of another country.”
According to The Washington Post, Korea's history is not so black and white.
The Post noted that during all of Korea's history there have been parts of the country that were “tributary states to China.”
A tributary state consists of an area that is inferior to a more powerful leadership.
While they're technically on their own, the subordinate state must officer goods and/or money to the dominating leadership.
Nonetheless, officials in South Korea do not want it on the official record that China ever owned Korea, as Democratic Party of Korea representative Moon Jae-in states.
Moon Jae-in reportedly requested the full context of President Xi's comment, adding that it would be unfortunate for China to distort history, according to Bloomberg.
It is unclear if President Xi incorrectly informed Trump, or if POTUS misunderstood what the Chinese president was saying about the Korean Peninsula.