Only one sitting U.S. president has attended an Olympics that was held outside of the country, with President George W. Bush taking in the Opening Ceremonies and a few other events at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. But South Korea Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Tuesday expressed hope that President Trump will become the second.
On Tuesday during a meeting in Olympia, Greece, Lee asked U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman Larry Probst for his help in getting Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to visit South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics next year. According to the Yonhap news agency, Probst replied that he couldn’t make any promises but would do what he could to make that happen.
It seems like a long shot, and not simply because Trump’s sabre-rattling over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions has increased tensions on the peninsula. After North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September, Trump accused South Korea of “appeasement” toward its northern neighbor:
South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017
South Koreans don’t exactly hold Trump in high regard, either.
“Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don’t consider him to be a reasonable person,” David Straub, a former State Department official who dealt with both Koreas and recently published a book about anti-Americanism in South Korea, told The Post last month. “In fact, they worry he’s kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance.”
Over the objections of White House advisers, Trump also is considering a withdrawal from a free-trade agreement with South Korea that’s been in effect since 2012. Such a move would leave the Asian country dangerously isolated under the current climate on the Korean Peninsula.
Despite all this, Trump will make a stop in South Korea during his 12-day trip to Asia next month but won’t be going to the Korean demilitarized zone, The Post’s David Nakamura reported Monday. Instead, the president will visit with U.S. and South Korean troops at Camp Humphreys, about 55 miles south of Seoul, at the invitation of President Moon Jae-in.