ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 22nd, 2008 at 6:19 am

South Korean Perceptions of the US Military Presence in Korea

Stars & Stripes journalist Ashley Rowland last week published a four part series of articles exploring the perceptions South Koreans have of the US military presence in their country.  I have read through all the articles and found them to be a good summary of current US-ROK relations for those who have not been following affairs on the peninsula these past few years. 

Let’s start with the first article Rowland published concerning the 2004 survey where 34% of first year South Korean military cadets named the United States the main enemy of Korea with only 33% declaring North Korea as the main enemy.  This topic was covered in detail here at the ROK Drop with many great comments left on it.  The former military academy superintendent blamed faulty textbooks for the skewed views of America that the new cadets held. 

Rowland interviewed an education researcher from the South Korean Education Ministry to comment on the claim:

Today, more than half of South Korean high schools are still using the old textbooks, published by a company called Golden Star, said Shin Sun-ho, an education researcher for the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Shin said a few South Korean politicians have criticized the book for being sympathetic to North Korea, but he said that wasn’t the case.

“If it was, it wouldn’t have been adopted as a textbook by the government,” he said.

The textbook is used in elective history courses for 11th- and 12th-graders.  [Stars & Stripes]

If I was interviewing this person I would have asked why over half of Korean students are failing their national history exams if these textbooks are adequate?  I would also ask why the Korean Teacher’s Union (KTU) is teaching pro-North Korean propaganda in the classroom among of host of other pro-North Korean activity?  Finally I would ask why the (KTU) is teaching anti-Americanism to their students and celebrating the 9/11 attacks?  I think the answers to these questions would go a long ways to explaining why 34% of the cadets thought America was the main enemy of Korea. 

In the second article Rowland mostly discusses the long history of US forces stationed in Korea along with the agenda of the upcoming summit between President Bush and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.  Also in the article Rowland discusses the current state of US-ROK relations with Frank Concilus, a professor of sociology, anthropology, and Asian studies with the University of Maryland.  Here is what he had to say in regards to the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident:

“I think the United States really blew it,” Concilus said. “The United States said they were sorry, but they didn’t show the kind of remorse and regret that I think would be expected in either Japanese or Korean culture. [Stars & Stripes]

A common myth about the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident is that the US military did not show proper “remorse”.  It is bad enough when Koreans make this claim, but it is even worse when an American university professor is making the same claim because he should know better. 

The good professor appears to be reading too many of the same Korean media reports claiming the US did not show proper remorse.  I have to wonder if the professor ever read the official response from the US embassy to these claims:

Unfortunately, there have been many inaccurate reports that have created false impressions in the Korean public concerning the genuineness of our sorrow and the actions we have taken since the accident. We want to address those inaccurate reports so the Korean people have a clearer understanding of the sincerity of our words and actions.

First of all, many media reports continue to suggest that no statements of remorse or official apologies were made or that they were late in being presented. On June13, the day of the accident, Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Zanini, the commander of the 28,000 soldiers assigned to Eighth U.S. Army, made the following statement: “We are deeply saddened by this tragic event. I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families of the children and pledge our resolve to vigorously investigate this accident.” That statement was followed by official apologies by the Commander of the Second Infantry Division, Major General Russel Honore; the Commander of USFK, General Leon LaPorte; and Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly. Ambassador Thomas Hubbard has on several occasions publicly apologized on behalf of the U.S. government.

Furthermore, the Second Infantry Division Commander and the Chief of Staff visited the families following the accident to apologize personally for the accident and to offer their assistance to the families. In an effort to provide for the immediate needs of the families, we presented an initial solatium payment of one million won to each family the day following the accident. USFK immediately initiated the process in order to accelerate the compensation to the families. USFK realizes that no amount of money will lessen the pain of the grieving families, but USFK is working diligently with the ROK government to present a final and just compensation to the families.

The men and women of USFK also felt compelled to respond. Hundreds of soldiers of the Second Infantry Division held a candlelight vigil to honor the two girls and express their remorse. Donations of more than $22,000 (26,400,000 won) collected by the soldiers in the Second Infantry Division have been presented to the two families as a sign of their heartfelt sorrow and deep respect. Additionally, a memorial fund has been established to build an appropriate memorial to honor Ms. Shim Mi-Son and Ms. Shin Hyo-Sun and to further assist the families.  [US Embassy Korea]

I think it is also important to note that even the President of the United States George Bush went on to apologize for the accident. Here is even more information on the remorse shown by USFK after the accident.

Candle light vigil at Camp Red Cloud

After reading this does the professor’s claim of not showing enough “regret” according to Korean and Japanese culture hold up?  Judging by when Koreans kill GIs in vehicular accidents such as with the accident with SPC Vang Herr and other GIs there were no apologies made all the way up to the Korean president, there was no large financial compensation made, there were no candle light vigils, or any fundraisers by Koreans to provide funds for the deceased soldier.  Instead the killing of these soldiers is hushed up and everyone acts like it never happened.  US servicemembers raped, assaulted, and even murdered by Koreans get the same treatment if not worse.  It really shouldn’t come as a surprise either that the average Korean knows nothing about these incidents.

So yes USFK did not show proper Korean remorse for the incident, instead they went far above and beyond the level of remorse expected in Korean society for a similar accident.  The protests after the accident had little to do with remorse and more to do with politics and a public fury manipulated by a biased and sensational Korean media.  

Ashley Rowland’s third article deals with the views US servicemembers have of Koreans while serving in Korea.  Most of the servicemembers had positive experiences in Korea with few instances of anti-Americanism.  From my experiences in Korea I agree with this assessment because I have myself overwhelmingly had more positive experiences in Korea then negative though the few negative experiences I have had really pissed me off at the time.  To put things into perspective though, at no time in Korea has any of the negative experiences I had matched the hate I witnessed myself by anti-military protesters I saw while stationed in the United States.

Here though is a statement from a servicemember I agree fully with:

“If you go to a Korean area of town, where it’s nothing but Koreans and no Americans, they like you,” said Smith, who has been in South Korea for eight months. “They’re always waving and saying hi.” [Stars & Stripes]

This is very true, if you travel around Korea and get away from the ville areas and Seoul you will have a more positive experience while stationed in Korea.  I have traveled all over Korea and in particular the rural areas and have met nothing but friendly Koreans except in Gwangju where I have had a couple of negative experiences there, but overall Korea is a great place to tour around as an American. 

The fourth and final article discusses the perceptions South Koreans have of the US military presence in their country.  Rowland reports that most showed gratitude or indifference to the US troop presence, but a few showed resentment.  Here is a quote from one of the people interviewed that resented the US troop presence:

Although Kim said she rarely sees U.S. soldiers in Seoul, she has a largely negative image of them: impolite, even though they’re visitors in a foreign country and should be on their best behavior.

“They act like they’re masters of this nation,” she said.  [Stars & Stripes]

This statement is so illogical that I don’t know where to begin on this one.  First of all, if you rarely see a soldier how do you know anything about them?  This leads me to believe she probably forms her opinion of soldiers off of what she reads and sees in the Korean media which as I have shown on this blog over and over again is extremely biased

Also soldiers are not “visitors” to Korea, they were ordered to go Korea to help protect their country from North Korean aggression.  Soldiers are not in Korea for some sight seeing tour.  However, soldiers are part of a disciplined fighting force and ambassadors to their nation which means they should be on their best behavior anyway, which as statistics show they largely are.  USFK has a lower per capita crime rate then the general Korean population to include the last murder committed between a GI and a Korean was committed by a Korean and the last fatal accident between a GI and a Korean was committed by a Korean.  This is of course information you will never read in the Korean media. 

The impolite accusation is especially humorous considering many people consider Koreans to be extremely rude and this prior posting of mine on, Why are Koreans Rude?, continues to be a highly commented on posting here at the ROK Drop. The “masters of this nation” claim is even funnier because she doesn’t even provide any examples to back it up other then GIs are rude.  If GIs are "masters of this nation" then why the heck are so many GIs getting screwed over by shady ajummas as well as getting screwed over in Korean court rooms?

Here is another naive viewpoint which obviously was created by watching the Korean media:

“I think they behave very carelessly and rudely, without respect,” she said. “Maybe it’s because they’re not being punished for what they do, and they feel entitled to do it because they are protecting us.”

Not being punished?  I have an entire USFK crime archive that shows the number of soldiers tried and convicted in Korean court to include those dubiously convicted in Korean courts.  If I was interviewing this woman I would have instantly asked her who are these soldiers not being punished?  Somebody please point them out?  I can name a number of Koreans not held accountable in Korean courts.  Here is even more information about how GIs are treated in Korean courts.

GI bashed with metal pipe by Korean man.

As naive as these viewpoints from some Koreans maybe as I mentioned before, it is even worse when they come from Americans who should know better:

Americans and South Koreans often view the U.S. presence here differently, said Catherine Lutz, a Brown University professor who studies the relationships between military bases and the communities that host them.

Americans don’t realize how important reunification is to South Korea, and they don’t know how much South Korea contributes toward keeping the U.S. military here or what the United States gains in return — a continued foothold in a key spot in Asia, she said.

“They see U.S. bases as simply security gifts to Korea,” Lutz said in an e-mail to Stripes.  [Stars & Stripes]

South Koreans don’t want reunification with North Korea because it would collapse the South Korean economy.  That is why the failed Sunshine Policy was implemented, to prevent the collapse of North Korea and immediate reunification.  South Koreans saw the economic damage to Germany after the sudden reunification there and reunifying with North Korea will be much worse both socially and economically for Korea. 

As far as what South Korea contributes to USFK, they don’t even contribute half the cost of the US-ROK alliance and in fact last year sent more money to North Korea then what they paid to maintain the alliance.  The fight to get Korea to properly fund the alliance continues to this day.  Lutz’s claims of a "continued foothold" in Asia is also interesting since the US military has been greatly downsizing in Korea to reduce the force footprint on the peninsula.  In fact the Korean government are the ones doing everything possible to delay the troop withdrawals

However, Lutz doesn’t stop here, she even has more to say:

Civic groups that oppose the U.S. presence have varied reasons for doing so — environmental damage at bases, deaths and rapes at the hands of soldiers and a feeling of loss of sovereignty about the planned expansion of Camp Humphreys, Lutz said.

"Environmental damage"?  Kind of like the Camp Kyle "no use area" that I exposed as a fraud right here on the ROK Drop. Deaths and rapes?  The US servicemembers have been murdered and killed in traffic accidents more recently then vice versa.  Loss of sovereignty?  The Camp Humphreys expansion was agreed upon by a sovereign ROK government that in exchange for the land outside Camp Humphreys is receiving the land from vacated USFKcamps located on prime real estate throughout Korea to include Yongsan Garrison in the heart of Seoul.  The Korean government is receiving far more land in return then what they are giving up to make the USFK transformation a reality. 

Catherine Lutz

So who is Catherine Lutz you may ask?  Well she is a professor at Brown University and has written a book titled The Bases of Empire: The Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts. This give you an idea of the point of view this woman is coming from.  Not exactly an unbiased source to quote in an article.  It only gets better, she actually thinks the Camp Humphreys location is happening to allow the US to attack neighboring countries:

Author of the forthcoming book The Bases of Empire: The Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts Lutz said today: "The U.S. is centralizing bases in Korea, from an at least somewhat defensive posture to a more offensive posture. So, the U.S. bases in Iraq, like the bases in South Korea, have the purpose of allowing the U.S. to launch warfare against neighboring countries. [Institute for Public Accuracy]

Does she even know what units USFK is composed of?  There is one combat brigade in USFK located in the 2nd Infantry Division. The vast majority of units in USFK are support units and not combat arms units.  This is because the US logistical bases in South Korea were created to facilitate the RSOI (Reception, Staging, Onward movement, & Integration) of American units deploying to Korea in case of attack from North Korea.  That means a lot of support servicemembers are needed to upkeep the RSOI chain.  Many of the other support soldiers work for the USFK and 8th Army command and control units. 

The one combat brigade that USFK has is also a heavy brigade combat team (HBCT) which makes it hard to deploy because it has lots of heavy equipment such as tanks and bradleys.  USFK is hardly going to use bases in South Korea to attack a neighboring country like China as Lutz claims with one heavy brigade and a bunch of support personnel.  Lutz is probably just restating the propaganda that was fed to her by the activists groups that protested against the Camp Humphreys relocation that have since been linked to a North Korean spy ring.

USFK wants to relocate to Camp Humphreys to reduce the force footprint on the peninsula, down size the number of troops in USFK, get soldiers out of North Korean artillery range, as well improve living conditions for servicemembers to allow them to bring their families to Korea.  This fairy tale about soldiers at Camp Humphreys being used to attack China is absolute nonsense.

The article goes on to quote statements from the activist group Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea:

Yu Young-jae, 48, policy director for Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea, a well-known civic group with about 1,300 members that opposes the U.S. military presence, said the United States is looking out only for itself by being in South Korea.

“Their ultimate goals are to command supremacy in the world and worldwide military domination,” he said in a telephone interview.

Yu said the number of South Koreans who want to see U.S. troops leave is steadily growing, although college students — typically the most radical anti-American groups — are more focused now on getting jobs in a weak economy. But they are angered at what they see as unfair treatment from the United States, he said.

“I see them as having potential to demand a more equal relationship,” he said.

So who is this group Solidarity for Peace and Reunification of Korea?  They are no strangers to the ROK Drop because I previously posted about how they claimed to have a secret document showing the acquittal of two soldiers in the 2002 Armored Vehicle accident was a cover up.  Of course they never produced this document.  Probably most notable about this organization is that they are a North Korean front group led by Reverend Hong Keun-soo who was imprisoned for two years in the 1990′s by the South Korean government for his pro-North Korean activities. 

SPARK protesters push US Marine

Even more interesting is that the woman quoted in the article, Yu Young-jae was previously arrested and sentenced to ten months in jail before the sentence was suspended, for being part of a group that pushed and tackled US Marines participating in a joint exercise with the ROK military in 2006. 

Some how I don’t think taking quotes from these North Korean stooges is the best way to determine the attitudes of the general Korean population towards the US military presence.

However, the article does conclude with the funniest quote of all the articles, you English teachers out there are going to love this:

Oh Hae-sik, 36, manager of Geckos, a bar in Itaewon, said U.S. troops used to drink heavily and fight with staff and other customers. That changed three or four years ago, though he doesn’t know why. Now, he said, English teachers from Canada, the United States, Ireland and Australia are the rowdiest customers.

“I don’t know why they’re turning into the good guys at the bar,” he said of the military.

“We are beginning to love serving them.”

I can remember the days when GIs used to disguise themselves English teachers to hit on women in Seoul, but now it appears you low quality, foreign English teachers may need to disguise yourself as GIs if this keeps up. 

Anyway, for those of us that follow affairs on the peninsula closely some of the people quoted in the articles definitely raised an eyebrow due to their biased and propagandist views.  This article could have been more informative if some follow up questions were asked and if more serious people were interviewed for opinions on the status of US-ROK relations. Overall though the four articles are an interesting read and a good summary of how Koreans and Americans perceive each other on the peninsula and definitely worth reading in full. 

  • ryu
    5:08 am on April 22nd, 2008 1

    my question is: How can we get this stuff translated so i can show it to people that really matter: the Korean people. I was shocked after i (randomly) asked most of my friends (very educated) about the USFK tank incident. All but one thought it was an intentional murder of Korean minors by some soldiers free-riding in a tank. If you started some kind of donation method, so you could get your "GI Myths" translated, i would donate. And I am a cheap bastard.

  • usinkorea
    5:33 am on April 22nd, 2008 2

    GI Korea can set up a Paypal account. I did on my site. Only got $10 for it.

    Back when I had time to work on that site and keep up with the anti-US sites, I always wanted someone who could do some rough English translations of some of the Korean press and anti-US sites.

    I didn't have time to read all this post in full or each of those articles – though I did read parts of all but one of them.

    The one that stood out to me is the one where the polls showed half of all Koreans wanted the US to leave some day…

    These guys in the Stars and Stripes generally do an OK job with these stories. They will at least quote both sides, but they still don't do enough homework. I can understand since anti-Americanism in South Korea isn't an obsession for them or the main thing they cover, but these days, there are enough messages like those GI Korea has put out or I have or some of the other long term expats in the K-blogsphere that should make getting up to speed with reality easier.

    For example, with the poll figure noted above, anybody who has been in Korea for a couple of years and looked into the anti-US habits of the society, they would know immediately that that "someday" clause in the poll question invalidates it.

    These polls should ask questions like "Do you believe USFK should leave South Korea within the next 10 years?"

    Even in the worst period of the 2002 orgy of hate, when Koreans heard Donald Rumsfeld say he was willing to remove all of USFK, the focus quickly changed from leaving "someday" to "just not quiet yet."

    If you don't understand that element of the US-SK alliance, you don't understand it at all.

    I never really understood the phrase "have your cake and eat it too" before I went to Korea and taught Korean adults….

  • GI Korea
    7:10 am on April 22nd, 2008 3

    As far as raising money for the site for something like translating, I once had a tip jar on the site but I raised less then five dollars with it so I axed it. Google Ads raise much more money every month.

    I make anywhere from $40-60 a month from Google. I make enough from the ads to pay off my webhosting fees and have enough left over to buy books to read from Amazon. So I'm pretty sure asking readers to donate money for translating content on the site would not work.

    Then again I shouldn't be the one defending USFK in the first place. USFK should have a Korean language site like what I have here with someone fluent in Korean as well as knowlegable about Korean issues operating it updating the site at least weekly in response to the almost daily anti-US nonsense I read in the nation's papers.

    I have thought about translating stuff myself in order to practice developing my Korean skills but that would mean I would have little time to actually update the site with new content in English. I'm stretched for time as it is updating the site now and will only be getting more stretched for time in the near future.

    As far as Stars & Stripes they do do a generally good job as USinKorea stated. There is a lot of good info the Stars & Stripes puts out that would largely go unnoticed if it wasn't for the paper.

    These four articles were actually pretty good I would just have liked to see some follow up questions to some of the responses given as well as better sources for opinions on the US-ROK relationship then a pro-North Korean group that wasn't even identified in the article as being one and a college professor with obvious anti-military bias.

  • The Goat
    7:14 am on April 22nd, 2008 4

    Just a couple of things here…

    In regards to the 2002 incident, most of the Koreans that I talked to did not even know that there was an official statement at all. I told one guy that I watched it the same day but he refused to believe me.

    The apologies were also a source of concern for some of my Korean friends as it seemed they were stuck on the idea of regret being different from 'being sorry'. I tried to explain that 'regret' was more often (if not always) used in official statements and that there was no fundamental difference in meaning. To this day, I am unconvinced that the Korean media did not purposely mistranslate regret into the very benign Korean version ????? in order to facilitate the agenda at the time.

    Oh yeah…I worked with one of the professors listed in that article and let's just say that he was…um…interesting.

  • ryu
    8:18 am on April 22nd, 2008 5

    its just frustrating that the Anti-U.S/foreigner media has free reign to make Koreans believe whatever anti-foreigner sediment they push. If we could at least get these articles translated, and then posted, offering an explaination, or at least a foreign point of view, at least Korean people who want to be objective have a reference. Currently, they have none. I've known about things like the "U.S Han river pollution" for a long time, but when i try to explain it, i am far less credible because i have no source. So Koreans tend, naturally, to believe the naver blog than their friend's friend that told them it wasnt illegal and it didnt go into the Han. It's not Korean people's fault, because even if they wanted to investigate it, they couldnt. It would be nice to set up a "snopes" or "fact or fiction" type website in Korean for intrested parties to look at. If I Korean netizens, it would at least change the perspective for many.

  • shattered
    9:11 am on April 22nd, 2008 6

    “We are beginning to love serving them.”

    That one made me laugh. The GI's are the bread and butter of that bar in the story, but the owners openly admit that they don't like them.

    I would love to see a western bar owner saying " we are starting to like cowboys in here". The kicker is that lots of expats and GI's think that Koreans love them. And some expats spend their time trying to convince other of how great Korea is (and how great the koolaid is) and how important and wonderful Korea is. Those fools need to be locked up.

  • Mark
    10:29 am on April 22nd, 2008 7

    I want a new Korea article series from Conor Purcell.

  • Crackus
    10:35 am on April 22nd, 2008 8

    #5 Not so sure. Look at the average Koreans response to being told the reality of fan death, and the power of "group think" on a national scale becomes apparent. Regardless of translation, demonstration or the laws of physics they won't change their minds unless some highly intellectual role model like Kang Ho-dong says to.

    Most Koreans have a remarkable ability to dismiss reason in favor of popular opinion.

  • ryu
    4:56 am on April 23rd, 2008 9

    just because many Korean people think like that, doesnt mean we shouldnt attempt to offer an alternative to more rational or objective people.

    Most people believe in fan death just because they havent heard otherwise.

  • usinkorea
    4:59 am on April 23rd, 2008 10

    I have given Korean adult students articles from the Korean press before that showed GIs have been found guilty in Korean courts before, or that the Korean woman in the 1994 or 95 subway brawl was in fact one of the GI's wife, but they refused to believe it.

    The same with pointing out Korea only pays a share of USFK's total costs, and not even 50% at that, and that most of the money goes to pay Korean civilian employees or other Korea-related business, but with no luck either.

    Anti-US and USFK thought is institutionalized beyond the press.

    But the press is a big factor…

    When I read about the memorial USFK had for the two girls —- and when I saw how the Korean press absolutely refused to tell the people that USFK, the Korean government, and the families of the two girls had reached a monetary settlement about a month after the accident, I was livid (both times). And in the Korean language coverage, they described the murders continuously as murders.

  • Mark
    6:56 am on April 23rd, 2008 11

    Ryu, my wife still thinks that leaving the fan or A/C on for too long can cause death, even after all the times that I've slept in a closed room with the A/C on all night.

    For so many psychological and social reasons, there will never, ever be a unless a foreigner were to make it.

  • Speedy Relocation » Blog Archive » South Korean Perceptions of the US Military Presence in Korea
    10:15 pm on May 11th, 2008 12

    [...] Read more here [...]

  • Fortress Australia Outpost: Korea Past & Present
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    [...] South Korean Perceptions of the US Military Presence in Korea [...]

  • April
    6:02 pm on July 29th, 2008 14

    You won't die if you leave the A/C on overnight but the Korean government gets up up the bum for it in fees on the electric bill.

  • New USFK Website Review
    1:58 pm on November 19th, 2008 15

    [...] be able to show Koreans a page on the USFK site that clearly lays out the facts about some of the widely held perceptions Koreans have about [...]

  • Dee
    1:00 am on August 18th, 2009 16

    Im in camp Hovey, 4th Chem. One day I went to Uijonbu. I attempted to walk into a restaurant to eat. An older korean woman told me to get out. I showed her thst I had won to pay with and asked whats the problem. She continued to nudge me out the door. I strongly feel its because I was black and/or she knew that I was a soldier. Either way it way ignorant. Overall I feel Korean people are very selfish and unappreciative, of the sacrifices that past US soldiers had for them to be the country that they are now. Dont get me wrong I have a lot of close Korean national friends, but the amount of frowns and dirty looks that I receive when traveling are more that the amount of people that are friendly.

  • Marcus Ambrose
    9:51 am on August 18th, 2009 17

    I was at CRC for 10 years and it was during the tank accident. There are a myriad of factors that caused the accident, but it was an accident. The one thing I felt about that was that USFK did not have an effective message to the local populace. When only 1 side is speaking, then right or wrong, that side has the upper hand. USFK made the statements in closed rooms, monetary payments quietly, a candlelight vigil without the local press.

    Even today USFK remains silent on issues instead of having an official public stance. It's called marketing, boneheads, try it sometime.

    One of the things above that is true: Koreans are more likely to believe Naver than any official statement. But that still doesn't excuse not having an official USFK Korean language site.

  • Ryu
    10:39 am on August 18th, 2009 18

    at Dee:

    That's the wrong way of thinking, that perpetuates racism, which is the very thing you are complaining about. "Korean people are very selfish and unappreciative of the sacrifices that past US soldiers had for them to be the country that they are now." Saying Korean people are very selfish is a generalization, and is just as racist as any generalization about black people in the U.S.

    1) Korean people are not very unappreciative. Some are unappreciative. But not all Korean people are unappreciative. There are events held around Korea every year honoring the U.S sacrifice.

    2)Don't expect to be treated like a king for an event that happened in the 50s. You weren't there, and neither were most of Koreans that are alive and walking around today. Most Koreans see the Korean war as a far off and distant memory that has not much to do with their country today. Many Americans don't even treat U.S veterans in the U.S with any kind of special appreciation, so why would Koreans?

    3) Get away from military towns in Korea, and you will see most of that attitude towards foreigners melt away. Most Koreans love interacting with foreigners, especially those that seem like that want to experience Korean culture or are trying to speak Korean/eat Korean food. If you are one of those foreigners that is going to mock everything Korean and demand McDonald's, then just stay on base. Many Koreans in U.S military towns (I.E Uijongbu, Pyongtaek, Dong Du Cheon, Itaewon) have negative opinions of GI's because they have had a negative experience. I have been here for 8 years total now, both as a GI and as a civilian, and that's what I have seen in my experience. Most Koreans outside of GI towns think it is a special treat to have foreigners come to their restaurant.

    at Marcus:

    I agree totally. When you tell people the actual events, they end up doing research and, at the very least, are not angry/militant about it. It would be nice for USFK to have a Korean Language site, kind of a PR thing. It is well within their capability and it frustrates me how USFK leaves soldiers and civilians, many without Korean language skills, to defend their country's reputation and themselves without any ammunition.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:59 am on August 18th, 2009 19

    Marcus if you haven't already you need to read these postings:

  • Marcus Ambrose
    4:44 pm on August 18th, 2009 20

    I read those articles. I was there when Gen Honore said (I was in the meeting so this is first hand) one of the things we did wrong is we invited the families of the girls to CRC. That made it the focal point of protests. He should have met them at their home or city hall.

    He also lamented the fact that the U.S. wasn't allowed to go out with an effective counter message. At the time the guidance was to just hunker down on the bases and hope it would go away. It did right after Rumsfeld said "fine, we'll leave". Then the Korean President put a halt to the protests.

    Americans are pretty level headed, so are most Koreans. And most of the people, US and Korean, know that there's no way a tank crew would back up over the girls to "make sure they were dead".

    But the point is, USFK does not do a good job engaging the public.

  • Mike
    9:10 pm on August 18th, 2009 21

    The US needs to leave Korea in my mind. They are not wanted by most people, aside from the few who remain in the countryside. I don't think soldiers contribute much to Korean economy, though I'm sure the bases do. Soldiers tend to stay on base these days as Korea is quite hostile to them, and there are more amenities on base then there are in the cities of Korea, such as American food, clothing, inexpensive good beer, and other things. Prostitution is largely supported by Korean males and the few soldiers that utilize this avenue of displeasure won't make a dent in that area when they leave. Korean males will just have more for themselves.

    I say USA out of Korea as soon as possible. Actually, I say USA out of all foreign countries, militarily speaking.


  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    10:14 pm on August 18th, 2009 22

    That is why I recommended reading the articles because I echo the same sentiment. USFK put plenty of info out in English but they did a poor job at fighting the info war in Korean. The Korean media wasn't going to translate English press releases or news reports they had a narrative and were going to stick to it. To this day USFK does a poor job of engaging the Korean public in Korean.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    4:58 am on August 19th, 2009 23

    Read this on the other comments under it. Maybe if you guys had taught Korean adults before, you would feel somewhat different. I give it a 20% chance USFK and the US Embassy could have done much of anything in the Korean language to lessen what happened, and I think I'm being generous with that.

    Korean society did not want to hear the other side. Period. The few times someone in the Korean press or government said something contrary to what the society wanted to hear, Korea exploded on that person and the org they worked for.

    I've seen much smaller issues where the Korean media absolutely refused to get the US point of view out. It concerned USFK camp pollution. The brass would invite the media and civic leaders and even the anti-USFK NGOs on base and explain things and hand out info flyers, sometimes in Korean too, and the Korean media produced — squat. If the visit was mentioned, USFK's message was reported as nothing. A cover up or trying to hide the issue through distraction or similar tactic.

    What could USFK have done to bypass the Korean press and the Korean government — to talk to a Korean society that was hell bent on exercising the "power" they felt after hosting the World Cup and doing so well in it?

    From reading the Stars and Stripes during that period, USFK held plenty of press conferences. They sent high ranking officers to the family the very day of the accident. They did the memorial gathering and built the stone memorial.

    I can't even imagine how USFK could have held the vigil outside the base. No way. Nobody would have hosted it. It would have been like the funeral services for the Korean sailors killed in the West Sea clash that year. The government set that up in an area where citizens and some of the press couldn't get in.

    And if USFK had tried to go around the government and media, the most likely result would have been more outrage. Just like it was during the FX Fighter selection process from late 2001 and early 2002. Every time the Embassy or USFK or US government said something about the quality of the F-15K and/or that the Korean press and protesters were being unreasonable, the Korean press and street went nuts.

    The explosion had very little to do with the death of the two girls…

    It was just the initial trigger, but it was not the facts or false facts that made the protests so big and long lasting. Korean society was primed to flex their muscle and national pride. Trying to get correct information out in that climate should have been tried, but it would have been whistling in the wind…

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    5:23 am on August 19th, 2009 24

    I agree totally. When you tell people the actual events, they end up doing research and, at the very least, are not angry/militant about it.

    There is so much involved in the anti-US activity over time, it should convince anyone who has watched it that the above isn't true — as is the idea USFK could have greatly lessened the society's fury by taking its message directly to the people.

    I mentioned a couple already. I'll repeat them with others:

    1993 Markle Case. Every time the US Embassy spoke out about the gross distortions in the Korean press, the Korean media and people screamed even louder.

    2001-2002 FX Fighter Case – same thing.

    Wonju Camp Eagle and Long Pollution Case and Yongsan Pollution Case – same thing.

    Koonni Bombing Range – same thing.

    2002 – a female news anger says, "That's sad to see" or something similar after a reporter aired video of a small group of university students firebombing a USFK guard shack — and she's fired within a couple of days due to the volume of absolute fury that fell upon the network.

    2002 West Sea Battle – 7 S. Korean sailors are gunned down in an unprovoked attack by NK, and the society could barely care less.

    It isn't about the event/trigger itself — it is about what the mood in the society is in.

    2000 Yongsan Water Dumping Case – also a big explosion in Korean society – also a time USFK couldn't get the Korean press to publish the truth though they tried – why? – that was the year of the North-South Summit. South Korean society felt strong and positive about the future and thought maybe USFK wouldn't be needed in the near future – so they unloaded on USFK over a minor pollution issue.

    2001 9-11 Case — South Korean society's response was more muted than seen in Tehran and Beijing – not too places terribly well known for their close relationship with the US.

    In both those capitals, spontaneous sympathy marches were held.

    In Seoul, the people in front of the US Embassy were followers of The Priest who protests everything related to the US in Korea.

    I would say things might be a little different today: The idea North Korea is changing is gone. There has been some conservative, pro-US alliance news at Korean universities, the pro-US alliance groups have been more active the last few years than they were before 2002.

    Maybe the mood in the society is shifting to a position where engaging them with fact could work. It was impossible before now…

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    5:31 am on August 19th, 2009 25

    "1993 Markle Case" should be the 1994 "Subway Brawl Case"….

  • ryu
    10:50 am on August 19th, 2009 26

    at Mike:

    Let's talk facts, only. Most of the Korean public, aside from a few in the country side, DO NOT want the U.S out. I don't know where you got that. In fact, the main opposition to U.S presence is the Democratic Labor and Farmers party (huge minority) and the main supporters of U.S presence are the majority GNP. If it was as bad as you say, the GNP wouldn't be in power right now. You may think that way because the small groups have a big voice. Secondly, it's proven the USFK bolsters the Korean economy in a big way. If from nothing else providing jobs.


    Valid points, however none of those incidents had the USFK effectively coming out and releasing messages to the Korean press. Showing a history of protest doesn't change the idea that Koreans should have access to the truth, or the other side of the story, whatever you want to call it. If that other perspective was provided, you don't know how the public would act. Not to mention, aside from the 'tank incident', the majority of the Korean public was not siding with the protesters. It's easy for us to see it that way, because it's on the news and there are protesters, but it is simply not true. Those people simply do not make their voices heard, because they don't see a reason to. Again, it's a case of the small group with a big voice against a silent majority.

    Some things you just can't compare. For example, mentioning the female news anchor getting fined for saying "that's sad to see" is not unique to USFK or US related incidents. As you may know, a female anchor this year got fired and fined for smiling on air after the close of a news show that's final report was on an unfortunate fire that caused a number of casualties, due to public sentiment.

  • RealExpat
    11:08 am on August 19th, 2009 27

    The USA needs to leave Korea TODAY. Leave Korea like they did the Phillipines and let Korea take care of her own business. Japan is the real partner and friend of the USA. No need to watch your back around Japan and American soldiers are appricated there.

    Americans need to stop buying Korean products until Korea starts buying American products. Once a year to show our "friendship" with Korea we can ship Korea all our wild dogs to eat. That should be enough. LOL


  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:22 am on August 19th, 2009 28

    You guys should read my prior posting on why immediate withdrawal of USFK isn't going to happen anytime soon:

  • Daniel
    10:37 am on January 25th, 2010 29

    I hate dumbasses like you who act like all koreans are "dogeaters". btw, once america stops buying stuff from korea, theyll be so far behind in terms of technology, that their soft power will decrease which directly correlates to their hard power, and that kills us hegemony which is key to preventing world war 3 dumbshit

  • RYU
    11:25 am on January 25th, 2010 30

    Right. Just saying over and over again "lets leave~!!" is not adding anything to the conversation. It's not going to happen (soon, at least). Continually talking about Koreans eating dogs doesn't help either, except to only alert everyone else to disregard your opinions because you are obviously ill informed or just ignorant, and have some sort of biased against Koreans or a superiority complex. Degrading our Host nation provides no solutions or input.

  • Trentz Open
    1:22 pm on January 25th, 2010 31

    I'll give an example of a normal night for an American male in South Korea(away from the "Ville").

    Just last night I went to Mr. Pizza with my Korea friend next to Songtan City Hall. There were five High School girls working and one of them was a student of mine over a year ago. Anyway, the service was excellent, all five girls came over at different times to serve the cheese sticks, garlic bread, pizza, drinks, etc. They almost made me feel like a celebrity. While I was eating dinner I noticed one of the servers bring a Korean couple to sit right behind my friend. They asked to be moved to a different area, which I noticed because I've seen this happen many, many times. Honestly, even though I don't stare I can imagine how they didn't want a foreigner staring at them. I also doubt few people notice these subtleties of Korea as it's a semi-unimportant event unless you're a sociologist, which I am.

    Next we went next door to Lotte Cinema to see Paranormal Activity. Being a Monday Night there were only 2 other people in the theater. However, right before the movie started another Korean couple came inside, and the girl went and sat in the row right in front of us. The Korean male wouldn't sit next to her and quietly convinced her to sit elsewhere. Well, my Korean friend couldn't miss that one! So I turned to him and said "See that?" and he nodded my head.

    Once again, these are just observations by myself of subtle Korean behavior in and around Korea. I don't get really offended because I think we all do things like this back in the U.S., consciously or unconsciously. Additionally, the Koreans are more xenophobic than almost any other people on the planet. Plus, I don't want to sit next to them anyway. I don't like shrimp or crab on my pizza and I don't like Peanut Buttered flavored squid while I watch a movie.

    In summation, as a male foreigner in Korea I mostly enjoy my experiences here in Korea. Very rarely do I have outright unpleasant experiences. There are exponentially more prejudice and racial unpleasantries back in America such as Oahu, Hawaii or practically any major American city, depending on where you go. However, I do wonder what it is like for an American woman in Korea. I'd like to be a fly on the wall while she was in a Korean restaurant or some other business establishment. I don't think she'd experience quite the same thing.

  • Retired GI
    1:40 pm on January 25th, 2010 32

    POI: I like kigogi!

    I agree, we should stop talking about leaving and Leave. Jobs done. Been done.

    Korea does not need or want us. I know it will not happen anytime soon, or even in my lifetime. But it should.

    I'm tired of the usa being the whipping boy whenever the koreans feel like a good protest is due.

    I don't care about the justifications for staying. USFK is a great expense for little (if any) gain for america.

    Listen to the koreans and take our toys and go home! We survived pulling out of the Philippines in 91.

    Maby that would make a good alternative universe book—korea after the americans left.

    Wouldn't sell well, as most americans have still not heard much about korea.

    I live in one of those places.

  • Retired GI
    1:54 pm on January 25th, 2010 33

    If she had blond or red hair and green or blue eyes, was slim with a nice "set"

    and spoke korean, it would be a marked difference. :razz:

    I knew a blond female linguist who was offered 1000.00 USD to be a korean guy's

    companion for a "business" meeting. (he would supply the dress).

    Being an american, she was of course Offended. :smile:

  • RYU
    2:13 pm on January 25th, 2010 34

    What are we talking about? I thought it was about how the Koreans view USFK.

  • guitard
    5:37 pm on January 25th, 2010 35

    btw, once america stops buying stuff from korea, theyll be so far behind in terms of technology…

    So…if America stops buying cellphones and flat panel TVs from Korea…it's going to fall behind the rest of the world in terms of technology?

    That's a fascinating theory.

  • Retired GI
    5:55 pm on January 25th, 2010 36

    To think, he is calling others dumbasses. :shock:

  • RYU
    5:59 pm on January 25th, 2010 37

    I like how foreigners in Korea can't resist to take every opportunity they can to bash Koreans…Can you find a blog these days that doesn't have a bunch of expats whining about how stupid, poor, dirty, or backwards Koreans are?

  • guitard
    6:01 pm on January 25th, 2010 38

    Next we went next door to Lotte Cinema to see Paranormal Activity. Being a Monday Night there were only 2 other people in the theater. However, right before the movie started another Korean couple came inside, and the girl went and sat in the row right in front of us. The Korean male wouldn’t sit next to her and quietly convinced her to sit elsewhere.

    Wait a minute…you're a sociologist…and you attribute their desire (his desire according to your story) to move because you were a foreigner?

    Are you suggesting that there is something strange about a guy NOT wanting to sit with his girlfriend right in front of two men – in a theater that is virtually empty?

    Tell you what…I'll bet if you were to run a little experiment where you put two groups of two people together in a theater – and then send a young couple into that theater – and tell them they can sit anywhere they want – they will NEVER sit right in front of one of those other two groups of people. And this is especially true if a group consists of two men. Do that test 100 times – and you'll never find a couple that wants to sit there.

    It's human nature to want to have your own space. And this is even more so the case with a young couple. And this is especially the case in a country like Korea where private space is at such a premium.

  • Heinz Warp
    6:03 pm on January 25th, 2010 39

    I think the Koreans have earned their reputation. Nobody would really bother to bash such a small country unless there was some "off the chart" examples of greed, corruption, rude behavior, and lies.

    Off the freaking chart.

  • Retired GI
    6:26 pm on January 25th, 2010 40

    Your "pity party" is boring indeed Adashi.

  • RYU
    7:29 pm on January 25th, 2010 41

    Hmmm… wrong again douchebag. I am not korean.

  • RYU
    7:41 pm on January 25th, 2010 42

    Dont get me wrong, i complain about Korean's bad habits too..but this is not unique to Korea. Look at other expat blogs… Expats do this everywhere so it's not just cause Koreans are THAT bad. Americans especially dont have a good rep with foreigners either. But i digress… This has gotten way off topic and has just turned into yet another venue for expats to bitch.

  • Keir Dullea
    8:02 pm on January 25th, 2010 43

    Guitard, he's just giving a couple of examples from one night. Take from it what you will, I don't usually notice these type of things but I have seen it more often than I'd like to admit.

    Are the Koreans Xenophobic and considered rude by almost everyone on the planet? It can't be denied.

  • guitard
    8:12 pm on January 25th, 2010 44

    So…you're saying I'm wrong? In other words…the Korean guy wants to move away from the foreign guy because the Korean is xenophobic…and not because he wants to move to a place more private where he'll have a chance to whisper a few sweet nothings in his girl's ear and maybe get lucky and play with her boobs or maybe get really lucky and diddle her 단추?

  • Keir Dullea
    8:35 pm on January 25th, 2010 45

    No Guitard, I'm not saying you're right or wrong. I'm saying you're looking past the whole point of the matter.

  • Retired GI
    12:03 am on January 26th, 2010 46

    Sure sound like one. I'll update you from Adashi to Liberal, self-hating douchebag. See, ya convinced me. :smile:

  • RYU
    9:15 am on January 26th, 2010 47

    You just sound ridiculous… 1) why am I a liberal? You are making a stretch since I mention I am ex Army above…usually people that work for the DoD are right wing 2) Self-hating — so just because I don't enjoy bashing my host nation I automatically hate America, huh? 3) Douchebag — really creative… just use the same word I used… you are retired?? from what? JROTC?

  • RYU
    9:19 am on January 26th, 2010 48

    Oh… maybe you just meant to type 'Retarded GI'.

  • Retired GI
    9:49 am on January 26th, 2010 49

    Liberals last resort is "name calling". You fit so well.

    "usually" is the operative word. Not a constant.

    You means YOU. Individual as opposed to national.

    Duchebag is your word. Why would I attempt to be "creative".

    I know so little of name calling. But you have it down.

    Retarded is also quite creative. You are very good at name calling.

    Most liberals are.

    I am disappointed that it took you four minutes to type your post

    and then STILL forgot to include the, Oh so cleaver, retarded comment.

    Your slipping!

  • RYU
    10:26 am on January 26th, 2010 50

    Right, a guy who makes a hip pocket decision about politics and self-awareness from the style of name calling one performs is someone's opinion who should be valued. I am not at my last resort, I just wish the comments were back on topic instead of just Korea bashing, which you seam so feverishly bent on.

    BTW if self-hating had nothing to do with nationality I have no clue what would make you think I am self hating.. looks like just more crazed word vomiting. Also, "oh so cleaver" just proves my point.

  • Retired GI
    11:03 am on January 26th, 2010 51

    That is your OPTION. Put them back on topic!

    You came out with the douchbag comment. I said you sounded like a KN on a pity

    party. Instead of calling me names because I'm an American, explain how I'm

    wrong. You assume so much.

    I spent nine years in Korea. Requested all but the first. But it was better duty

    back in the 80-90, than from what I hear now. I was there in 2002 thru 2003

    I have eaten dog. I have been treated well by the KN's and badly. You can't talk

    about the bad all the time about americans as you seem to do. Not without someone

    calling you on it. Some GIs just have no good experience in korea. There are reasons for that. Often korean reasons, but also military ones. They didn't call 2ID as "above the no smile zone" for no reason.

    With you it seems that all americans are racist korean haters. Just isn't true.

    I can go to either side. Can you?

    I'm sure your are clever, but your displeasure with americans hides it completely.

    Now if you want to go back to name calling—up to you.

  • RYU
    11:30 am on January 26th, 2010 52

    You are wrong because I'm 1) not Korean 2) I'm a conservative 3) Don't hate myself, or my country, which ever one you were talking about —- I can see how you would make these mistakes because to you American/hating Korea = good guys anything else = bad guys (so therefore, everything you hate or are not)

    You ate dog… so now you are some sort of Korea Expert Master? Come on…

    I was in 2ID as well, I was there for 5 years before getting out. Still in Korea.

    —"With you it seems that all americans are racist korean haters. Just isn’t true.

    I can go to either side. Can you?

    I’m sure your are clever, but your displeasure with americans hides it completely."—

    I never talked shit on Americans.. I talked shit on expats who do nothing but bitch about Korea. I have no displeasure with Americans…I am one. Only the ones that do things like complain about Koreans being ruled by stereotypes while making stereotypes and generalizations about Koreans…but that is not complaining about them being American that is complaining about them being a dumbass.

    If you paid attention you would see I am trying to keep this from turning into a Korean bashing post… but it's like trying to convert Osama.

    This used to be a post about how Koreans perceive USFK, why they see it that way, and what can be done to change it…not a post about how backwards Koreans are. Put down the haterade and give some valuable input.

  • Dexter Betts
    10:49 am on July 11th, 2010 53

    No matter what you do or say there is still gonna be racism in the world. Dont waste your breath about this crap. The best thing to do is to make sure you live your life right, and you teach your children the right way. Do what you can do from your lane. ;-)

  • Marcus Ambrose
    10:58 am on July 11th, 2010 54

    Bruce, we already know how it works out for them: 40 years of occupation by whoever is in line to screw them next. The U.S., Chinese, and Japanese have all planted their seeds here, who's next?

  • bruce
    1:46 pm on July 11th, 2010 55

    just give us an excuse and we can be gone in about a month then you can face north korea and the chi-coms by your self.let me know how that works out for you.


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