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US envoy to South Korea says goodbye to his MUSTACHE amid controversy over its 'Japanese colonial' look

US envoy to South Korea says goodbye to his MUSTACHE amid controversy over its 'Japanese colonial' look
The US Ambassador to Seoul shaved off his mustache on Monday after a lengthy wrestle with local media, which resented its Japanese colonial-era look. However, the diplomat denied that it was public opinion that forced his shave.

Having facial hair can be a factor of irritation in international relations, as the US envoy in South Korea has learned lately.

Ambassador Harry Harris’s mustache irritated Koreans’ historic memories, reminding them about Japan’s 1910-1945 brutal occupation of their country.

South Korean media repeated relentlessly – ever since Harris took his post last June – that his mustache was reminiscent of the fashion adopted by Japanese governors-general during those decades.

To make things worse, 40-year-old Harris was born in Japan and is of part-Japanese origin. Still, he resolutely denied that his mustache had anything to do with political sympathy and was a matter of his personal choice. 

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He explained that was the only available way for him to reinvent himself: “I tried to get younger but I couldn't get younger. But I could grow a mustache, so I did that.” He stressed that many Korean leaders also used to have a mustache.

But, in an unexpected twist, on Sunday the embattled envoy posted a nearly three-minute-long video online showing the entire process of him bidding farewell to his contentious facial hair.

Still, he insisted he undertook that move so he could wear a facemask more comfortably in hot summer weather, rather than because succumbing to local public opinion. “Covid guidelines matter,” he said.

The hair-cutting decision was generally welcomed by netizens, many of whom said on Twitter that the diplomat looked younger with a clean-shaven face.

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