Monday, February 17, 2020

South Korea does not like the mustache of the American ambassador

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The American Ambassador to South Korea, Harry Harris, on January 16, 2020 in Seoul. SEBASTIEN BERGER / AFP

The American ambassador in Seoul, Harry Harris, may have tried, at a press conference Thursday January 16, to treat the affair of his mustache with humor, the fact remains that his favorite crystallizes the dissatisfaction of the South Koreans vis- vis-à-vis the United States, and this since his appointment in July 2018.

For many Internet users, his mustache – a chevron style, according to experts – evokes nothing less than the eight Japanese governors general who have succeeded to direct, with an iron fist, the destinies of the peninsula during the thirty-five years (1910-1935) of the colonial period. Air of time, all sported favorites.

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In the case of Mr. Harris, the resemblance would be strong with Yoshimichi Hasegawa (1850-1924), marshal and governor from 1916 to 1919, notorious for his violent repression of the movement of 1st March 1919 in favor of independence.

Japanese mother

The prejudice is exacerbated by the very identity of Harry Harris, who would be wrong to have been born in Yokosuka, near Tokyo in Japan, to an American military father and especially a Japanese mother. Not enough to heal its popularity at a time when relations between Tokyo and Seoul are at their lowest, on historical questions in particular.

Faced with these attacks, the retired admiral, former chief of staff of the United States Pacific Command, recalled that certain fighters for the independence of Korea also wore mustaches. He also explained that his choice to let it grow had to "Mark the break" between his career as an officer and his new life as a diplomat. "I tried to grow, but I couldn't, so I tried to get younger, but I couldn't either. But I could grow a mustache, so I did, " he explained during his speech.

" I am who I am ", he added. "All I can say is that every decision I make is based on the fact that I am the American ambassador to Korea, not the Japanese ambassador to the United States in Korea. "

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"Inappropriate" attitude

Insufficient positioning because the disenchantment continues. Appointed to the post by US President Donald Trump, Mr. Harris is a staunch defender of his policy on the Korean peninsula. He pushed Seoul to try to speak again with Tokyo. He also supports Donald Trump's desire to see Seoul quadruple – to five billion dollars – his contribution to the maintenance of the 28,000 American soldiers deployed in the south of the peninsula.

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