By: Kim Se-jeong
A Korean-American student is making headlines here after confronting Donald Trump, the U.S. Republican presidential front-runner, Monday, over the presence of the U.S. military in Korea.
Joseph Choe, 17, a Harvard College student, also put Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the spot in April with a question about women who were forced to be sex slaves during World War II.
During a campaign speech in New Hampshire, Trump said Korea receives free military protection from 28,500 American servicemen.
“I just want to get the facts straight,” Choe said during a question and answer session following the speech.
Trump interrupted him to ask if he was from Korea.
“I am not. I was born in Texas and raised in Colorado,” Choe said. “No matter where I am from, I would like to get the facts straight. And I want to tell you that that is not true. South Korea paid $861 million.”
Then Trump cut him off and said, “It is peanuts compared to what it’s costing. It’s peanuts. They are a very wealthy country. We are defending Germany, we are defending Japan, we are defending South Korea, we’re defending South Korea, we’re defending so many countries, we get peanuts. We get nothing. We get a you’re right. We get a small payment. It is a fraction, a tiny fraction.”
Speaking to media after the confrontation, Choe said, “People tend to believe that what influential people like Trump say even if they make wrong claims, is true. I just wanted to make it known that (Trump’s claims) are wrong.”
Choe is an economics major at Harvard. According to the Harvard website, he is an editor for the Harvard Political Review, and interned at Korea’s National Assembly this summer.
People in Korea also remember him for a question he asked Abe regarding victims of sexual slavery during World War II in April when Abe made a speech at Harvard.
“In the face of (much evidence), do you still deny the Japanese government’s explicit involvement in the subjugation of hundreds of thousands of women into coerced sexual slavery?” Choe asked.
Abe answered, “When it comes to the comfort women issue, my heart aches when I think about those people who were victimized by human trafficking and were subject to immeasurable pain and suffering.”