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From owner-seasia-l@list.msu.edu Sat Feb 8 01:00:07 2003
Date: Fri, 7 Feb 2003 18:15:21 -1000
Sender: Southeast Asia Discussion List <SEASIA-L@list.msu.edu>
From: Vincent K Pollard <pollard@HAWAII.EDU>
Subject: Antimilitarism & Anti-Americanism in South Korea, 1945-2003
To: SEASIA-L@list.msu.edu

Antimilitarism & Anti-Americanism in South Korea, 1945-2003

By Vincent Kelly Pollard, 7 February 2003

Professor Jae-Bong LEE of the Department of Political Science and Diplomacy at Wonkwang University gave an hour-long lecture exploring Anti-militarism and Anti-Americanism in South Korea, 1945-2003.

The event took place at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa on 28 January 2003. Lee’s talk was sponsored by the UHM Department of Ethnic Studies and cosponsored by the UH Department of English and the Center for Korean Studies. http://www.hawaii.edu/korea/archive/archive.htm#jan03 is the URL to a PSA on Lee’s lecture. (Scroll down after arriving at that web page.

The brief summary below is based only on my notes, and does not have the benefit of the text of Lee’s lecture or of a tape or video recording.

In Lee’s conceptualization, one may distinguish between four types of anti-Americanism, namely, the policy-specific, intellectual, ideological, and revolutionary variants.

Focusing mainly on the past forty years, Lee traced the increasing breadth of policy-specific anti-Americianism, including among Koreans who feel a sense of gratefulness to the United States.

Lee illustrated several phases of the uneven but measurable spread of anti-Americanism in South Korea.

For example, he starkly contrasted the low level of protest in the early 1960s when daily murders of Korean prostitutes by U.S. soldiers were common and where the only outcry was by friends and relatives begging for funeral expenses with the socially broad protests against the killing of the two school girls by a U.S. Army vehicle last summer.

To the extent that unification of the two Koreas appears within grasp, Lee observed, the U.S. Army will increasingly be perceived as an obstacle to that reunification of North and South Korea, even though they are technically still at war.

Jay Lee completed his M.A. at Texas Tech in 1990. He then earned his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1994. Scholars interested in the theoretical and empirical underpinnings o Lee’s presentation might take a look at his doctoral dissertation.

Available on the Web from UMI ProQuest Digital Dissertations, Cultural Representation of Anti-Americanism: The Negative Images of the United States in South Korean Literature and Arts, 1945-1994, AAT 9519457. For those interested in the scholarship of anti-Americanism, an abstract of Jae-Bong Lee’s earlier, related work follows below:

This study describes the developmental process of anti-Americanism along with changing perceptions of the United States, analyzing Koreans’ attitudes and behavior as well as American policy and actions. Differing from common notions, anti-Americanism was not newly born in the 1980s and it was manifested not only through violent political behavior but also through cultural activities, particularly literary and artistic works. Anti-Americanism has functioned as a cry for recovering injured national pride and infringed sovereignty caused by unequal Korean-American relations. Koreans were humiliated by American arrogance, including intervention and dominance, but their resentment and anger could not be freely expressed due to harsh political repression and poor socioeconomic conditions. In the 1940s, Koreans were frustrated and angered by the delay of national independence and the consolidation of national. Frustrations and anger developed to ’national liberation struggles’ against the American occupation, which were expressed in ’tendentious literature.’ In the 1950s, national pride was wounded by American servicemen’s contempt of and crimes against Koreans, which were portrayed in ’military camptown novels.’ In the 1960s, sovereignty was seriously infringed by excessive U.S. intervention in Korean affairs. It led to the rise of nationalism, and Americans were asked to leave Korea in ’engage literature.’ In the 1970s, the United States was viewed as an obstacle to South Korean democratization. Under the repressive Yusin system, some writers and artists began to denounce American imperialism and neocolonialism through ’resistance literature’ and ’open-stage drama (madangguk).’ In the 1980s, U.S. complicity in the Kwangju massacre and Washington’s support for the military dictatorship triggered violent anti-Americanism. Restrained resentment (han) and intolerable anger that had smoldered for decades were exploded through the influence of national economic growth and advanced international standing of South Korea. The United States was defined as an enemy, being no longer an ally, in ’minjung literature and arts.’ From the late 1980s, the unification movement has developed. The United States is portrayed as a barrier to Korean unification in ’unification literature.’ Therefore, anti-Americanism, consolidated by the rise of renewed nationalism or compatriotism in the 1990s, is unlikely to disappear as long as Korean unification is not realized.

Among others, Lee’s dissertation committee included Michael Haas (chair), Glenn Paige, and the late Marshal Pihl.

After his recent presentation, Dr. Lee then led a discussion lasting almost as long as his lecture.