Former game show host Donald Trump, who is just three months into his on-the-job training as president, just got schooled on foreign policy by South Korea.
During his visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump appeared to take the Chinese leader at his word in giving his experience of worldly affairs. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal that took place shortly after President Xi’s visit, President Trump told reporters that Korea was once a part of China (it wasn’t).
“[President Xi] Then went into the history of China and Korea,” Trump told the Journal. “And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years… and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China.”
However, South Korean politicians took umbrage with Trump’s confused version of historical events, reminding the President of the United States that no, Korea did not and was never a part of China. In a statement to Bloomberg, a spokesman for South Korean presidential candidate Hong Joon-Pyo, who is running to replace impeached former President Park Geun-Hye in a May 9 special election, said Trump’s statement was disrespectful to South Korea’s history.
“This is clearly a distortion of history and an invasion of the Republic of Korea’s sovereignty,” Hong’s spokesman said.
While the Chinese dynasty repeatedly invaded the Korean peninsula and occupied its territory over the course of many centuries, sometimes demanding tribute from its residents, the people of South Korea outright reject the notion that they were ever considered to be a part of China.
“It’s a clear fact acknowledged by the international community that, for thousands of years in history, Korea has never been part of China,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told Bloomberg.
As of this writing, President Xi has not acknowledged whether or not he did, in fact, tell Trump that Korea was once a part of Chinese territory.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.