The specter of nuclear warfare has hung over the peninsula for years – but it surely appears the US ambassador’s moustache has obtained South Koreans bristling with anger.
Harry Harris, a former navy admiral who was born in Japan to a Japanese mom and an American navy officer, has been accused of insulting his hosts by rising the controversial adornment.
His facial hair reminds lots of the days of Japanese colonial rule between 1910 and 1945, throughout which all eight Japanese governors-general sported moustaches.
Tokyo’s rule over the Korean peninsula is a seamless supply of resentment in South Korea, whose relations with its neighbour have been broken final yr amid disputes over their wartime historical past.
Throughout a protest outdoors the US Embassy in December, activists plucked the moustache hairs from posters of the ambassador’s face.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Harris talked about the general public feedback about his heritage and the mockery of his moustache – regardless of many well-known Korean historic figures sporting related facial hair.
“My moustache, for some motive, has grow to be a degree of some fascination right here,” he mentioned.
“I perceive the historic animosity that exists between each of the nations.
“However I’m not the Japanese-American ambassador to Korea – I’m the American ambassador to Korea.”
In a December interview with the Korea Occasions, Mr Harris mentioned he grew the moustache to mark his change in position.
“I wished to make a break between my life as a army officer and my new life as a diplomat,” he mentioned.
“I attempted to get taller however I could not develop any taller, and so I attempted to get youthful however I could not get youthful. However I may develop a moustache so I did that.”
Mr Harris has additionally been criticised by senior authorities members in Seoul for suggesting the nation ought to seek the advice of with Washington about reopening tourism with North Korea.
He recommended it might be higher for South Korea to run any plans to interact with North Korea by way of a joint working group established with the US to keep away from any “misunderstandings” that would set off sanctions.
Nonetheless a Seoul official, talking on situation of anonymity, mentioned: “It’s totally inappropriate for the ambassador to make such a point out within the media over remarks by the president of the host nation.”
A spokesman for the South’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, declined to remark particularly on Mr Harris’s remarks however mentioned “our coverage with regard to North Korea comes underneath our sovereignty”.