South Koreans Tear Up Photos of U.S. Ambassador in Protest Against Trump’s Defense Spending Demands
Protesters in South Korea have torn up portraits of U.S. Ambassador Harry Harris as part of protests against President Donald Trump’s demand that the country pay much larger sums of money in defense spending, largely to support American troops in the region.
Trump wants South Korea to pay another $5 billion a year, while the country currently spends just $900 million in contributions. There are 28,500 American troops in the country, which is a key strategic ally and lies within striking distance of North Korea, which is a serious concern.
“Harris out! We are not a U.S. colony! We are not an ATM machine!” protesters reportedly shouted. They jeered at a photo of Ambassador Harris before destroying it. The demonstrations were mainly organised by young people and youth organizations.
Harris was appointed by Trump and has become something of a hate figure in South Korea. Many South Koreans view Trump’s spending demands as outrageous and have directed their ire at his representative in the country.
The protesters had originally planned a more elaborate display, involving decapitating an effigy of Harris. They scaled back the event following warnings from police.
Trump has made many demands for increased defense spending from U.S. allies, including NATO. South Korea relies on the U.S. for its’ defense and Trump’s policy has strained relations between the two countries.