By Park Si-soo
With many Koreans still aggravated by U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial comment that "Korea used to be a part of China," his closest business partner, Vice President Mike Pence, has jangled their nerves again.
During a Tuesday meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence called the body of water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan the "Sea of Japan."
Pence told Abe that the United States stood firm with Japan against what he called "provocation from across the Sea of Japan."
The name has been a long-standing point of conflict between Seoul and Tokyo, which the former has promoted as the "East Sea." The naming dispute is considered a sentimental rivalry between the two countries that stems from Japan's 1910-45 occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
It is uncertain whether Pence spoke the term knowing of the long-standing dispute between America's two important allies in Asia. But it seems certain his careless choice of words will only drive a wedge between Korea and Japan and make it difficult for Washington to seek the concerted cooperation of its two Asian allies.
"The U.S. President and Vice President seem to be equally ignorant of Korea and Asian issues as a whole," a Korean netizen wrote.
Earlier, Trump disturbed many Koreans by saying "Korea used to be part of China." The businessman-turned-politician reportedly made the remark during an interview with The Wall Street Journal after meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping on Apr. 12.
Trump said in the interview: "(Xi) then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you're talking about thousands of years and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China."
American online news agency Quartz had the first report of the controversial remark, saying Trump made "a shocking admission of ignorance."
The Washington Post suggested: "It would be worthwhile for the president to get his history lesson from Korean experts, perhaps at the State Department, rather than potentially self-serving accounts from foreign leaders."