Denouncing U.S. President Donald Trump for intensifying "fears of war on the Korean Peninsula," thousands of South Koreans gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Seoul on Tuesday to protest Trump's arrival, hoisting signs that sent an unambiguous message: "shut up and get out."
"The war-threatening, weapons salesman Trump is not welcome here."
—Choi Eun-a, Korean Alliance for Progressive Movements
The peaceful demonstrations against the U.S. president—who has threatened to unleash "fire and fury" upon South Korea's northern neighbor, a move that would endanger millions of lives—are expected to carry on through Wednesday, when Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech on North Korea.
"The war-threatening, weapons salesman Trump is not welcome here, especially as he demands that South Korea pay more to host U.S. troops and set aside land for useless weapons like the THAAD missile defense system," Choi Eun-a of the Korean Alliance for Progressive Movements—one of the more than 200 groups participating in protests during Trump's two-day visit—said in a statement.
Trump motorcade on way to state dinner just passed protestors. Chants of "No Trump no war" and a few fireworks. pic.twitter.com/2R2Gwe0PcO— Paula Hancocks (@PHancocksCNN) November 7, 2017
Even as Trump appeared to tone down his militaristic rhetoric with a call on Tuesday for North Korea to "come to the table" and "make a deal," the U.S. and South Korea engaged in a joint military exercise that could only be viewed as a "major show of force"—one that could further ratchet up tensions and global concerns of nuclear conflict.
Over the next several days, "three US aircraft carriers, accompanied by guided-missile destroyers and submarines, will be conducting a mock battle in the waters in the region," CNN reported on Tuesday. "It's likely the show of power by the U.S. forces will be seen by North Korea as a direct provocation."
"We will shout for the warmongering Trump to leave our land in peace until he is out of here."
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During a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump was explicit about the intent behind the military exercise—one of many that have taken place in the Pacific region over the last several months.
"I think we're showing great strength," Trump said. "We sent three of the largest aircraft carriers in the world [to the Korean Peninsula] and a nuclear submarine is also positioned."
It is this kind of flaunting of military might that hundreds of South Koreans gathered on Tuesday to reject, echoing calls by other world powers for the U.S. to negotiate peace with North Korea.
"We do not welcome Trump," one prostester declared on Tuesday. "We will shout for the warmongering Trump to leave our land in peace until he is out of here."
South Korea: 'No Trump, No War' - Thousands attend rally against US Pres. in Seoul.pic.twitter.com/OGr9R5sRaR— asuka (@asuka_250) November 7, 2017