SKorean president to risk upsetting US with China visit
Presidential office ends uncertainty by confirming Park Geun-hye's attendance at World War II anniversary event in China next month

South Korean President Park Geun-hye will visit China early next month to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, a Seoul official confirmed Thursday after weeks of speculation.

The United States felt compelled this month to deny reports out of Japan that it was pressuring Park not to attend the celebrations in Beijing.

Regardless of Washington's feelings on the matter, the question of whether South Korea can build a stronger relationship with China while maintaining its alliance with the U.S. has been the subject of great intrigue.

China may have fought on the side of North Korea against the allies during the 1950-53 Korean War, but Beijing and Seoul also share unhealed wounds inflicted by Japan before and during World War II. Both criticized Japanese Prime Minister Abe's recent statement reflecting on the conflict.

Park will head to China a day ahead of the country's planned ceremony in Beijing on September 3, according to her presidential secretary Ju Chul-ki.

"Consultations are underway between South Korea and China to work out the details," Ju told reporters, admitting that the president may not attend a potentially provocative parade aimed at celebrating Japan's surrender.

It remains to be seen whether Park will be joined in Beijing by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who may be keen to protect Pyongyang's traditional ties with China.

Park is also due to visit the U.S. in October, having previously played down suggestions that Seoul has to choose between Beijing and Washington.

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Last Modified: 2015-08-20 08:49:01
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