5 things to know about Donald Trump's visit to South Korea

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania board Air Force One as they depart for Seoul, from US Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, Japan.
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania board Air Force One as they depart for Seoul, from US Air Force Yokota base in Fussa, Japan. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - US President Donald Trump, on a 12-day diplomatic swing through Asia, will arrive in South Korea on Tuesday (Nov 7).

He will visit a US military base, hold a summit meeting with President Moon Jae In and deliver a speech at the National Assembly before leaving for China on Wednesday.

Here are five things to know about Trump's state visit to South Korea, the first by a US president in 25 years.

1. Packed into 24 hours, no DMZ tour

Trump's stay in Seoul will last approximately 24 hours, the shortest in his five-nation tour. Due to time constraints, the US leader has decided to skip a trip to the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), the tense border with North Korea, which has virtually become a staple in any official itinerary to South Korea.

2. First-year anniversary of election victory

Thousands of Americans critical of Trump are planning a collective screaming session on Wednesday, marking the first anniversary of his election victory over Hillary Clinton. But Trump will be nowhere close enough to hear, as he will be in Asia that day, rounding up his visit to South Korea and heading for the next stop, China.

Seoul officials are said to be mulling over how best to congratulate Trump on the anniversary during a state dinner scheduled for Tuesday without wine or Champagne, as the US leader does not drink.

3. Melania, but not Ivanka

First Lady Melania Trump will accompany her husband to South Korea, although little is known about her planned schedule here. First daughter Ivanka Trump, however, will not be coming. She had planned to join her father in Japan, Korea and China, but decided to visit only Japan, leaving before he arrived. Her husband Jared Kushner and a White House senior aide are travelling with Trump and many other top aides.

4. Visit to Camp Humphreys

First on the itinerary for Trump is a visit to Camp Humphreys, a US military base in the rural town of Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, some 90km south of Seoul.

US Forces Korea's latest installation here is currently home to 26,000 service members, their families and other civilians.

Already America's largest overseas military base by area, commanding a space of 14.67 million sq m, it is set to be the largest by population in 2020 with some 46,000 people, when more US soldiers from several other bases in Korea move in.

5. Trump towers in South Korea

Although it is his first visit as president of the US, the former real estate mogul has set foot in South Korea at least twice, nearly two decades ago.

The two previous visits in June 1998 and May 1999 were arranged by the now-defunct Daewoo Group here, which General Motors acquired in 2002. Daewoo's engineering and construction arm collaborated with Trump on building the 262-m high Trump World Tower near the United Nation's headquarters in Manhattan, New York, which was completed in 2001.

During his visit in the summer of 1998, Trump toured a shipyard and car factory under Daewoo Group. He reportedly asked then-ranking officials at the South Korean company to build him a destroyer, so he could customise it into a private yacht. It is not clear whether he said this in a joking manner. Donald Trump Jr., Trump's eldest son, accompanied him on the trip.

A year later, Trump embarked on a brief one-day trip to South Korea to attend an opening event for a model house and to discuss the management of the residential buildings here called "Trump World." As a businessman, he had lent his name as a brand to the high-rise residential buildings.

There are currently a total of seven Trump World buildings here in major cities including Seoul, Busan, and Daegu. The most famous one is perhaps the one standing in the heart of Yeouido, western Seoul, which is South Korea's key financial district.

 

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