(SEOUL) — Hundreds of people gathered in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Tuesday to protest President Trump’s official visit. They carried signs and chanted slogans against the president over his aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea.
Thousands of police officers surrounded the demonstrators, who were corralled in designated protest areas around the U.S Embassy.
South Korea’s National Police Agency said it deployed some 15,000 officers to provide security amid the protests during Trump’s two-day visit.
Several hundred people gathered near the Blue House, South Korea’s stately presidential residence, where Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met to discuss trade and North Korea.
One protester there shouted “we do not welcome Trump … we will shout for the warmongering Trump to leave our land in peace until he is out of here.”
At another location, dozens of protesters staged a Buddhist-style demonstration, taking slow deep bows intended to express a longing for peace. They had planned to do the bows for seven hours, but police broke up the group by force.
A block down the street, hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators gathered, waving U.S. and South Korean flags as “The Star Spangled Banner” played from loudspeakers. Thousands more lined the main street leading to the Blue House waving flags and shouting “USA, USA!” as President Trump’s motorcade passed by.
Local media reported President Moon personally wanted to make sure the U.S. president and first lady felt welcomed in the midst of the protests. Moon threw a lavish welcome ceremony for President Trump, sending the traditional South Korean military band to escort Trump’s motorcade into the presidential residence.
It was the first state-level visit by an American president to South Korea in 25 years.
President Trump said he sees progress in the steps his administration has taken on North Korea, suggesting he could “make a deal” with the regime. But he would not say whether he still believes direct talks are a waste of time.
“I really believe that it makes sense for North Korea to come to the table and to make a deal that’s good for the people of North Korea and the people of the world,” the president said in a press conference with President Moon.
Trump previously said the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea if any threatening actions were taken against the U.S. and its allies.
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