SEOUL, A controversy has erupted in South Korea over U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice of words in a comment regarding South Korea’s sanctions on North Korea.

Trump was responding to a reporter’s question about reports from Seoul that South Korea is considering lifting some sanctions against North Korea.

“Well, they won’t do it without our approval. They do nothing without our approval,” he said at the White House on Wednesday (local time), according to a transcript.

The reporter was apparently referring to South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s remarks a day earlier that her government is reviewing whether to lift the bilateral sanctions that were put in place to punish the North for a deadly torpedo attack on a South Korean naval ship in 2010.

At a parliamentary session in Seoul, Kang later watered down her statement, saying there are no full-fledged moves under way to remove the May 24 Measures.

Nonetheless, Trump’s use of the word “approval” raised the eyebrows of Koreans for its negative connotations in country-to-country relations.

Source: Yonhap News Agency