South Korea seeks to calm Vietnam after controversial remarks by president

By VnExpress   June 14, 2017 | 09:58 am GMT+7
South Korea seeks to calm Vietnam after controversial remarks by president
South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony marking Korean Memorial Day at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, June 6, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

President Moon Jae-in's speech that honored South Korean veterans of the Vietnam War was met with criticism.

South Korea's foreign ministry on Tuesday affirmed that the country values its relations with Vietnam and wishes to enhance bilateral ties, according to Yonhap.

"We cherish our relations with Vietnam very much," the foreign ministry spokesperson Cho June-hyuck was quoted as saying at a regular press briefing. "Since 1992 when the two established diplomatic ties, we have continued to work to advance the relations with a shared belief that we should set aside the past and look forward."

"We will keep working to advance friendly ties going forward," Cho said on Tuesday.

The statement came as a response to a controversy involving South Korean President Moon Jae-in's remarks on veterans in the Vietnam War.

In a speech last week, Moon honored the country's soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War, saying their contributions helped their country.

Vietnam's foreign ministry on Monday criticized this and requested the South Korean government not to make such hurtful statements.

On Tuesday, Cho, the spokesperson, said Moon's remark was only intended to remind of the need to provide support for those who sacrificed their lives for their home country.

South Korean troops massacred about 9,000 Vietnamese civilians during the Vietnam War, according to an investigation by historian Ku Su-jeong.

However, the South Korean government has never acknowledged that any civilian massacre took place at the hands of its troops, the Los Angeles Times reported in an article in May 2015.

South Korea deployed more than 300,000 troops to Vietnam from 1964 to 1973, second only to the U.S. military force.

It is now the largest foreign investor in Vietnam with $50 billion at the end of 2016, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.