On the morning of Wednesday 9th, my producer joked that Donald Trump could win the election. “Haha,” I said, “He won’t win. He can’t win.” How sweetly naïve I was.
Then at 2pm in Korea, that publicly racist and sexist man, Donald Trump, became the 45th President of the most powerful country in the world. Right now, I am still reeling in shock, and so is the rest of the world. Many are wondering, how will Trump’s presidency affect South Korea?
Donald Trump has mentioned his dissatisfaction with the 28,000 American troops stationed in South Korea. The purpose of their presence is to prevent and deter potential North Korean attacks, however if South Korea fails to pay for this military security, Trump has threatened to withdraw this military assistance.
American soldiers leaving South Korea has been met with a mixed response. Those who do not believe they are necessary, and those with anti-American sentiment are happy with this decision. Korea currently provides $808 million for American troops, so if Trump pulls them out, some consider it a huge financial burden lifted from Korea’s economy.
Others speculate that South Korea could appear weaker, which could stir up North Korean aggression. In fact, many people are unsure how North Korea would even react to president Trump. This uncertainty only causes concern, not reassurance.
Currently, South Korea has a free trade agreement with the US meaning that exporting and importing goods between the two countries is easier and encouraged. Trump has mentioned that he would renegotiate this agreement because it has reduced job opportunities in America.
South Korea’s once booming economy has been slowing down as of late, due to the limited growth, reduced exports and aging population. Some predict that higher trade barriers would only be making Korea’s economy worse.
However, it’s not all bad news. Some speculate that a change is needed to shake up companies and could even open up opportunities for South Korean industries. With Brexit already cutting valuable Western ties, South Korea’s financial authorities aren’t too happy.
While the biggest concerns are trade and security, would Trump’s reign affect the day to day lives of Korean residents? Trump has been mocked very publicly in the media, and many of his scandals have hit the headlines. Due to this, most young Koreans are not too keen on him being the leader of America.
The allure of the ‘American dream’ has been slightly tarnished. Although this may not faze some people, others may think twice before jumping on a one-way flight. Anti-Trump Korean-Americans are baffled, and maybe would be more willing to stay in Korea.
In the worst case scenario, if troops do pull out and South Korea loses all ties with the US, South Korea will be in a very unique position of not being so heavily influenced by America. Seeing as Korean youth culture and society has been becoming more westernised, this could result in an interesting cultural shift that is solely independent, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
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