An International Student’s Perspective on the U.S. Election

Hye-yun Sohn, Web Editor

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As an international student, who does not have the right to vote in this country, it has been quite an intriguing journey to witness the 2016 presidential race. At the beginning of the presidential campaign, I was very excited to see and learn each candidates’ backgrounds as well as their perspectives of the country and their plans. However, after the two prominent candidates were selected to represent the Democratic and Republican parties, the race has been stranger than I have ever imagined.

Regardless of who is winning the debate or even winning the presidential election, it is pretty disturbing to see one candidate defame another candidate mercilessly on national television. Both candidates seem like they are more interested in offending their opponent than focusing on their plans and discussing their tactics for a better future for America. As we rely on social media in modern times, it is definitely dreadful to watch the overwhelming amount of the constant information regarding the presidential race of articles criticizing both candidates. I hope the candidates are more graceful during the campaign for the next president.

Frankly speaking, I cannot ignore the fact that I am more interested in how both candidates’ plans would impact my home country, South Korea. Since North Korea has been provoking the world with their military forces, missiles, and probable nuclear weapons, preserving our safety in my homeland is definitely top priority.

In 1953, South Korea and the U.S. agreed to a military alliance after the Korean War. Ever since, the U.S. and South Korea have remained as allies, totalling over six decades. This relationship between the U.S. and South Korea is categorized as a major non-NATO ally. The current U.S. President, Barack Obama, has said, “South Korea is one of America’s closest allies and great friends” at the 2009 G-20 London Summit.

I believe that this relationship continued over sixty years between these two countries because they both have positively impacted one another. However, Donald Trump claims U.S. troops should have been withdrawn from South Korea because “they aren’t paying their bills.” According to various news sources in the U.S., they dispute his statement about the budget. “South Korea paid around $866.6 million in 2014 for the U.S. military presence in the country, according to the South Korean government, around 40% of total cost”. Correspondingly, according to CNN, “Ambassador Mark Lippert said Seoul pays to 55% of all non-personnel costs” and the former U.S. ambassador Christopher Hill also rebuts Mr. Trump’s claims by saying “I don’t know what he’s talking about but clearly neither does he.”          

Consequently, public opinion towards Mr. Trump is not very welcoming in South Korea, since he is only interested in instant profit rather than a trusting relationship between these two countries. Aside from the U.S. and South Korea’s relationship, Mr. Trump has been causing several issues by stating controversial comments about other races and religions. Therefore, when it comes to foreign policy outlook, I have little faith in Trump’s plans for this country in this global world.  

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An International Student’s Perspective on the U.S. Election