Research Paper: Anti-Americanism in Korea

Pages: 8 (2190 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: History - Asian  ·  Buy This Paper

Anti-Americanism in Korea

The diverging relationship between the U.S. And a series of factors that are highly praised by a series of nations has generated a lot of tension in the recent years, largely being responsible for influencing the formation of anti-Americanism. The concept of anti-Americanism is on the rise because many individuals consider their principles to stand against those respected by the American society, by the country's government, and particularly as a result of its foreign policy. In spite of the gravity of the 9/11 events at the World Trade Center in New York, numerous international reactions point toward the concept that it is not actually surprising that terrorists chose the country as their target, given its latest activities.

In spite of the fact that the U.S. And South Korea have a history in assisting each-other because of their allied status, Koreans are yet to think of the Western superpower as their closest and most trusted ally. This is primarily because Koreans were persecuted throughout time and thus express reluctance in accepting an alliance with a powerful country. This unwillingness to accept a relationship is most probably caused because they fear that this could make them vulnerable to oppression.

Conditions in Korea previous to the American intervention in 1945

Korea stands as the home of one of the oldest human inhabited territories in the world and through time people from neighboring nations have acknowledged the territory's strategic importance, thus feeling that it had been particularly important for them to conquer it. In the last few centuries Korea became increasingly important because it stood between some of the planet's most influential countries: Russia, China, and Japan. In comparison to the other two countries, Japan appeared to be especially concerned about Korea's strategic significance and went further by annexing it in 1910 and directly causing its people to develop a sense of independence, eventually coming to rebel through every opportunity that they got, being determined to achieve independence. The Allied success in 1945 came as a relief for most Koreans, but they could accept the close relationship they were expected to develop with the U.S. In particular. South Koreans were seemingly disturbed and even paranoid about having to cooperate with another country, since they believed that they would expose themselves through doing so.

How anti-Americanism formed

In spite of the fact that they recognized the U.S. As being one of the major causes for which they became independent (at least officially), South Koreans could not ignore "the inescapable truth that the formal phase of U.S.-Korea diplomacy began under the cloud of Western imperial inroads into Asia" (Olsen 7). Americans were initially interested in exchanging diplomatic recognition with Korea long before the country actually came to be conquered by Japan. This further fueled Korean resentment toward the U.S., as they became aware that the Western power did little more but to continue what its neighbors did for a long time-to ensure that it could exploit it.

A series of American diplomats actually took advantage of Korea's underprivileged status with the purpose of imposing their country's dominance (in contrast to Korea, the U.S. experienced notable progress at the turn of the twentieth century). The relationship between the two countries got worse as a result of the Russo-Japanese War and because Japan came to annex Korea. As if matters were not already critical when concerning the connection between Korea and the U.S., the latter demonstrated its indifference toward the former with the coming of the First World War, as it chose to befriend Japan, leaving Korea with no one to assist it. "Despite a few positive aspects of U.S.-Korea relations during Korea's domination by Japan, the prevailing circumstances were very negative. Korea scarcely registered on the U.S. scale of interests in Asia. Priorities were elsewhere -- containing Japanese ambitions, reinforcing Chinese self-determination, and maximizing U.S. influence in Asia" (Olsen 10).

It had not been until they started to regard Japan as posing a threat to U.S.' interests that Americans considered a possible alliance with Korea, again proving that they were primarily interested in their well-being, and not in supporting morality. Even when they came to recognize Korea's importance the U.S. did not express a significant concern about wanting to occupy the country, since it was more interested in developing a close relationship to Japan. The fact that they willingly accepted the Asian country's division proves that the U.S. was fascinated about having as much influence as possible on the continent, and not necessarily that it wanted Koreans to be provided with better living standards. The Cold War made it possible for U.S. To want to consolidate its position in Asia, thus meaning that the Western country started to get actively involved in restructuring South Korea.

In comparison to South Korea, North Korea developed a radical anti-Americanism, mainly because of its connection to the Soviet Union and because its values came in disagreement with capitalist concepts. "When Marxist revolutionary zeal was great, radical anti-Americanism was associated with violent revolution against U.S.-sponsored regimes, if not the United States itself" (Katzenstein, and Keohane). Because of the fact that it assumed the role of leader in the West, the U.S. started to be perceived as one of the main international actors that stood against communist principles and it was thus natural for North Korea to feel harsh resentment toward the superpower (Katzenstein, and Keohane).

Whereas South Koreans felt that they largely depended on the U.S. during the first years consequent to the Second World War, matters gradually changed and the Asian country became the host of one of the most powerful economies in the world. Given its rise in power, South Korea became less interested in relying on the U.S. when it came to the problems it came across and anti-Americanism amplified notably, since South Koreans no longer felt like they owed something to the U.S.

South Koreans express mixed feelings in regard to the role of U.S. authorities in their country, as most of them feel discomforted knowing that there are numerous troops on their country's territory, even with the fact that it is apparently no longer in need of assistance in case of a war between it and North Korea. "Anti-American sentiment has been rising steadily in South Korea since the 1980s over U.S. support for a succession of military dictators and its refusal to embrace the yearning for national unification that peaked in 2000, when Kim traveled to Pyongyang for the first meeting between the presidents of North and South Korea" (Shorrock 18).

3. Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun policies

Kim Dae Jung, the fifteenth South Korean president took charge of the country in 1998, consequent to several years during which he and his party struggled to shape the country's policy in agreement with the concept of independence. South Koreans were greatly influenced by the events (the financial crisis and the nuclear condition in North Korea) taking place in Asia at the time and started to express an open disagreement regarding American policies in their country.

People did not appreciate the previous president's (Kim Young Sam) obvious tendency to rely on American assistance. Kim Dae Jung was initially impartial toward Kim Young Sam's decision to involve Americans in some of the country's most intimate relationships, but he eventually joined in with other South Korean critics in condemning the previous administration.

The number of individuals in Korea supporting the U.S. dropped significantly during the early 1990s, as people came to realize that the relationship between the two countries actually harmed South Korea instead of bringing any benefits. In spite of the fact that North Korea was clearly devoted to engaging in armed warfare against its southern neighbor, the Americans did not appear to be against this and instead of doing as much as possible in order to fortify South Korea and to support it in wanting to break away from peace treaties it signed with the North, the U.S. put across an impartial approach to the situation, supporting South Korea on the one hand and continuing to maintain its relationship with North Korea concerning its nuclear programs. The U.S. was most probably more worried about North Korea's potential to be a dangerous enemy than in South Korea's security (Larson, Levin, Baik, and Savych 26).

Although Kim Dae Jung was appreciative toward a series of activities performed by the U.S. during the Clinton administration, the South Korean president considered that he could not agree with the Bush administration's decision to stress North Korea by employing a strategy of economic restraint. Kim was certain that North Korea would not be affected by having its economy controlled because it did not do so in the past and because communist countries were typically accustomed to keep their policies, even in difficult circumstances. It rapidly became obvious that the U.S. was not attracted to obtaining a negotiation with North Korea, as the Western power wanted to see its system destroyed. This meant that Americans were unconcerned about directly putting… [END OF PREVIEW]

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