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Rival parties trade attacks over Yoon’s remark on Iran

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) — The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) said Tuesday President Yoon Suk Yeol is the “biggest threat” to South Korea’s diplomacy and security, escalating their criticism of his remark on Iran.

The ruling People Power Party (PPP) accused the DP of acting like a “traitor,” claiming the opposition is seeking to create a diplomatic problem out of Yoon’s pep talk to overseas-deployed South Korean troops.

During a visit to a South Korean military contingent stationed in the United Arab Emirates last week, Yoon said that South Korea and the UAE are in similar situations as the two countries face North Korea and Iran as their respective enemies.

Iran has protested the remark.

South Korean officials have stressed that the remark was made as part of efforts to encourage the troops, and Seoul’s commitment to relations with Iran remains firm.

“The biggest threat to the Republic of Korea’s diplomacy and security is none other than President Yoon,” Rep. Oh Yeong-hwan, floor spokesman of the DP, said in a statement. “The basics of diplomacy are to decrease enemies while increasing friends, but President Yoon is engaged in a diplomacy that increases enemies.”

The ruling PPP sought to defend Yoon.

“Stop the traitor-like behavior of attempting to create a diplomatic problem out of the president’s remarks encouraging overseas-deployed troops,” Rep. Kim Mi-ae, floor spokesperson of the party, said in a statement.

Kim said Yoon’s remark was nothing more than a message that the troops should face up to the seriousness of the security situation, accusing the DP of trying to take advantage of the issue for political bickering aimed at shielding leader Lee Jae-myung.

“The president did not even talk about relations between us and Iran,” she said.

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