US envoy to South Korea shaves off controversial moustache

Seoul and Washington are security allies; US stations 28,500 troops in the country

South Korea US File: US Ambassador to Seoul Harry Harris | Reuters

The most controversial moustache in South Korea has fallen victim to the razor's blade, with US ambassador Harry Harris visiting a traditional barbershop months after his facial hair became the object of unusual criticism, an AFP reads.

The envoy’s moustache came under controversy in January as South Koreans said that it reminded them of Japan’s imperial rule. Harris, whose mother is Japanese, was born and raised in America and was formerly a navy admiral. 

 Seoul and Washington are security allies and the US stations 28,500 troops in the country.

 With Koreans still bitterly resentful of Tokyo's 1910-45 colonisation of the peninsula, commentators claimed the moustache alluded to the fashions of imperial governors-general from the period. Harris in January said that whether or not to keep the moustache was a personal choice and his critics were “cherry-picking history”. 

Over the weekend, he posted a video of himself getting the moustache shaved off at a traditional Korean barbershop. Harris said he did so to keep cool in the Seoul summer while wearing a mask to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, both Seoul and Tokyo are major US allies and both markets economies are currently faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea but are locked in bitter disputes over historical issues.

 Earlier this year Harris said: "I understand the historical animosity that exists between both of the countries but I'm not the Japanese American ambassador in Korea, I'm the American ambassador to Korea. And to take that history and put it on me simply because an accident of birth I think is a mistake."