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A few percent short

Jan 10,2018
On Twitter, there are tweets joking that President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating is 172 percent. That’s because Moon boasts a 71.6 percent approval rating, according to Real Meter’s poll on Jan. 8, and U.S. President Donald Trump told Moon in a phone conversation Jan. 4, “The U.S. is behind you 100 percent.” Moon’s supporters are proud of the solid approval rating. On Jan. 6 at the New Year’s press conference on inter-Korean talks, Trump said, “I am behind that 100 percent.”

In fact, Trump likes to say “100 percent” as he often uses plain English that elementary school kids would use. He repeats the same, simple phrases to maximize the impact. In the summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in February 2017, he said, “The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.” Japan used Trump’s way of speech to win his heart. After the Las Vegas shooting incident in October, Abe called Trump and said, Japan was “100 percent” behind the American people. Trump called Abe a “true friend.” In a phone call with Abe before the Asia tour in November, Trump said that Japan and the United States are 100 percent together.

But Trump’s 100 percent is not necessarily 100 percent. During his presidential campaign in 2015, he said that he saw hundreds of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. While it turned out to be false, Trump claimed he was 100 percent sure.

At the New Year’s press conference this year, when asked about colluding with Russia on intervening in the U.S. presidential election, Trump said, “Everything I’ve done is 100 percent proper.”

The statements by the Blue House and the White House after the phone call between the two leaders on Jan. 4 were slightly different and some found it controversial. However, it is only natural and should not matter. It is standard diplomatic practice for each country to have a different interpretation.

The White House may not include Trump’s 100 percent in the statement because he uses the expression often. As a president-elect, Trump had a call with now-impeached former President Park Geun-hye, who was secluded in the Blue House during the candlelight protests in November 2016. As Park stressed the Korea-U.S. alliance, Trump showed 100 percent support. Some supporters of Moon may not want to admit it, but Trump uses 100 percent quite liberally.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 9, Page 31

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

SUH KYOUNG-HO