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‘Framing’ or bad diplomacy?

Dec 21,2017
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“Winning the people’s hearts is the essence of diplomacy,” President Moon Jae-in told his staff while preparing for his four-day visit to China that ended on Dec. 16.

After Moon dined at Yonghe Xianjiang, a restaurant in Beijing, without any Chinese officials present on Dec. 14, the restaurant began offering a “Moon Jae-in Combo.” It could be said that the dish is an outcome of Moon winning Chinese people’s hearts.

But some Koreans were disappointed that Moon and his staff dined without Chinese officials and Korean journalists were assaulted while covering the visit. I repeatedly asked myself whether Korea really deserved such poor treatment.

Pressured by criticism of poor treatment, the Blue House offered explanations. On the flight home, a Blue House official said that President Trump had only one meal with President Moon during his state visit in November.

But that is not true. The Blue House arranged a luncheon with Trump at the U.S. military base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, that was not in the original schedule, in addition to the state dinner. For the luncheon, Moon visited the U.S. base to dine with Trump.

Kim Hyun-chul, the president’s senior secretary for economic affairs, also said that it was the first time a Korean president was treated at the Golden Hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing for the state dinner. But the Blue House stepped back after reporters pointed out that President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached last year, was also invited to a banquet at the Golden Hall during her first visit to China in June 2013.

A high-level Blue House official said that he could not understand the media’s “framing” that the president dined alone. But he should have made a counterargument instead of blaming the media for framing.

On Dec. 18, National Security Adviser Chung Eui-young’s photograph of him having noodle soup during a busy schedule in China was posted on social media with the caption, “You have worked hard, and now it’s time for a meal.” It was deleted later, but it seems that the Blue House does not know — or refuses to understand — why some Koreans are still upset about the China visit.

On Moon’s diplomatic style, the Blue House called it “one step at a time.” Moon said, “Don’t try to get too many things at once.” It seems the Blue House staff needs to heed his advice if they really want to win the hearts of people. Too much is as bad as too little.

JoongAng Ilbo, , Dec. 19, Page 33

*The author is a political news reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo.

By HUH JIN