ROK Drop

Avatar of USinKoreaBy on August 8th, 2008 at 10:38 am

South Korea, Elections, Mandates, and Habits…

I’ve been trying to prepare to write a review of Cows Gone Wild!! Hysteria — and I stumbled across something that could turn into a good post — if I don’t lose my way.

I was thinking about the future of President Lee’s time in office – specifically – whether he’d get the chance to exercise his voter-mandate now that the beef issue has died down —

— and that made me think of Pres. Roh’s tenure in office – and it became highly interesting.

What mandate was Roh given by voters in 2002?

Since the majority of the readers here are fairly familiar with South Korean society already —- I won’t have to go to the trouble of justifying this next statement: That Roh won a very close election thanks to his anti-US in Korea credentials.

So, due to that fact — was his election victory a mandate to significantly alter the status quo in the SK-US relationship?

Again, people familiar with Korean society over the last few years would unanimously say the answer to that question is — Most certainly not.

In fact, Korean society put great pressure on Roh to fight against the US Defense Department’s attempts to fundamentally alter the status quo.

Also in point of fact, one of Roh’s first actions as president gives us an excellent idea of the position Roh found himself in immediately after winning office:

I’m talking about his trip to Washington DC to meet with President Bush.

Many will remember —- one of Roh’s key campaign pledges — was specifically that — he would be the first president in Korean history NOT to fly over to America to “kowtow” for the White House.

(See this CNN article for a run down of all of this and what Roh thought his mandate was just as he stepped into the Blue House)

Another thing he boasted about at this time – as he tried to squeeze out those last few votes that might push him over the top — was how proud he was that he had never traveled to America before in his life.

So — since he said all that in the home stretch of the election – and it helped him win —– what should we expect as a reaction when he immediately broke that promise?

When Korean voters saw Roh rush over to the US after assuming the presidency — and saw him “kowtowing” to President Bush — a man despised by most of Korean society —- what would any reasonable person believe should have happened?

South Korean society breathing a sigh of relief should not have come close to entering your head while pondering that question —

—- but that is exactly what happened.

And expats in the K-blogsphere, who generally understand South Korea’s complex relationship with the US, were not surprised at Korean society’s reaction.

During this time period, the US media was giving a very large amount of attention to the anti-American frenzy taking place in Korea. 60 Minutes was doing specials in which a 3 or 4 star general in charge of troops in Korea broke down crying at a simple question about how he felt seeing hundreds of thousands of Koreans marching in the street burning American flags.

What was worse — from the Korean point of view —- Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was boldly calling South Korea’s bluff — stating the US would gladly take all US troops out if Korea wanted.

He even went further — he announced – regardless of Korea’s wishes – the US was going to take 1/3rd of the troops out no matter what.

That is the context in which President Roh made his trip to Washington to meet with Bush.

Korean society made him go back on his promise not to kowtow — because they were petrified they had gotten too carried away in their anti-American fun and might have done real damage to the relationship. (Well, they knew they had done real damage – so much so – they felt they had to do something to repair it)

No. Roh’s victory most definitely did not mean he had a mandate to fundamentally alter the US relationship.

In fact, the reason he won the close election – is exactly what caused Korean society to turn on him and hem his administration in for the next 5 years.

Every chance they got, no matter what Roh did, the voters voted his party out and put pressure on him to do things that were not in his character or ideology.

Like sending troops to Iraq.

Looking at what Korean society professes to believe — would any rational person believe —– they would have supported Roh’s decision to send troops to Iraq (and Afghanistan)?

No.

Iraq War II was always highly unpopular in South Korea.

George Bush has always been despised — especially after he embarrassed President Kim Dae-Jung at the White House when he pissed on the Sunshine Policy.

There is still a very bitter taste over Korea’s government sending a large number of troops to fight with the Americans in Vietnam.

And again — Roh was pushed over the top thanks to his anti-US past.

So, when he decided to send troops to Iraq, why didn’t we see at least as many Koreans filling the streets day-after-day demanding his head on a platter —- as we witnessed over President Lee’s US beef deal????

Flash forward to Lee and the beef deal:

Would any rational person have guessed that his trip to Washington after his taking office and his signing a beef deal —- would have caused such a uproar?

Roh — a man who defined a state visit to Washington as “kowtowing” does it — and Korean society feels better.

Lee — a man Korean society hoped would further undue the damage done to the US relationship by the 2002 orgy of anger – and Roh’s presidency —- goes to Washington and — Korean society screams he is kowtowing!!

?????

And look at the fact Pres. Lee was invited to Camp David — the first for a Korean president.

Did Korean society breathe a sigh of relief after having walked on egg-shells for five years under Roh – scared every time one of Roh’s people said something in public that could damage the US relationship — like the Unification Minister saying it was the “invisible hand” of the US ruining Korea as far back as the Taft-Katsura “Treaty” —– ???

No. Just the opposite:

Safe in the knowledge that the US relationship will be better off under Lee —- they went nuts — attacking him for doing exactly what they expected (and wanted) him to do!!!

A rational person might scratch his head at this point.

Even Lee, a man of Korean society, was flabbergasted.

But…..I think it all makes sense.

Anybody who has been reading my coverage of anti-US culture over the years — would get it.

I know I have beat this point a lot this year —-

—– but —— I did predict we’d see this kind of thing happen.

I was saying for the past couple of years, once Korean voters had the chance to replace Roh with a GNP-er — we would have to start watching for a return of typical anti-US activity.

This was predictable.

It fits with what I’ve been saying about Korea’s anti-US culture since 2000:

Anti-US culture became a habit during the period of resistance to Korea’s authoritarian government.

By the mid-1990s, however, which is when I first went to Korea, it had evolved into primarily a way to stoke feelings of nationalism.

It was something meant only for internal Korean consumption.

It was not something Korean’s wanted to reach international ears.

And it was also something they did not want their president to put into actual policy.

In short, Korean society wanted to have their cake and eat it too:

They want strong trade relations with the US and the US military security blanket — but they want to feel better about being Korea – in a somewhat masochistic way — by periodically beating the hell out of the relationship with the US.

It’s a “Han” thing….

Is this person happy?

It does look like he is smiling.

But, as Koreans will tell any foreigner who’ll bother to listen — this is Han…

The squinty eyes and gaping smile — actually represent a deep, profound sadness — “that no foreigner can understand.”

It’s a Korean thing….

Koreans are raised from the earliest age about this Han thing.

And they are taught about “Korea’s-five-thousand-year-history-of-being-invaded-and-pushed-around-by-other-countries” yada yada yada….

…..you hear this ad nauseum in Korean society….

So, it shouldn’t be that hard to understand why —- Korea’s anti-US culture functions as it does.

Koreans are smart enough to understand how their bread gets buttered.

They understand the benefits of a working relationship with the US.

They want that relationship to remain strong.

If any Korean president tries to damage it, he’ll get his head handed to him. Roh understood that —- and adjusted his policies away from his ideology…..

But, Korean society also —- loves to enjoy beating up on that relationship. It makes them happy — in a somewhat sick, masochistic way. It makes them feel like they are doing the opposite of saddaeism (serving the great) — and makes them feel like they are fighting against their 5,000 years of oppression.

So, President Lee shouldn’t be too confused for too long on why or how his impressive mandate given in the election was so immediately ripped from his hands — for going to the US and signing a minor trade deal with Washington….

It’s simply habit.

And now that Korean society has had a couple months of fun —

—- I expect Korean society will — unlike with Roh —- allow Lee to get back to putting policies in place that match his ideology.

If he makes deals with the US to shore up the military alliance or strengthen trade between the two nations, I think he’ll get public support.

Maybe a year to a year and a half from now – they’ll pound him over something large or small connected to the US in Korea.

But, he should have smooth sailing for awhile.

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  • Eron
    6:59 am on August 8th, 2008 1

    Koreans are cultured into both deference to power and contempt of power. This is why political and business leaders can look forward to suspended prison sentence as part and parcel of retirement. Korean leaders gain power because they can do no wrong, even gross misconduct is overlooked. However there is always a point at which the public questions the trust they have placed in their leaders. At this point the once deified become anathema that can do no right. Public acts of atonement by these pariah will only reinstate them as fallen heroes that deserve honor in Korean history, but who can no longer be trusted with Korea's future.

    Vacillating between deference and contempt is also how Korea treats its major allies: US, China and Japan. Korea's populace expects leadership, partnership and subjugation from is allies. There is no possible balance in these three expectations, thus public sentiment and perceptions are fated to yo-yo.

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    10:08 am on August 8th, 2008 2

    GI — Damn you chew off big chunks to discuss…

    Roh Moo-hyun was a President the Koreans elected because they stupidly elected by emotions — NOT logic. They were manipulated by the KCTU, KTEWU, and the same cast that you saw in action during the anti-US beef protests. The radical activists duped the Korean people with false information, lies and slick propaganda to elect a man who was considered a dark horse even up to the last month of the 2002 elections. The used the same techniques in the lastest anti-US beef protests.

    Am I condemning the Koreans? Not at all. I see the same things at work in the 2008 US election campaigns. Outright lies, distortions, and slick propaganda to play on the emotions of the voters — for BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS — along with a liberal media to distort things even more.

    I have been a big :twisted: detractor of Roh Moo-hyun ever since he swept into office on the coat-tails of anti-Americanism along with outright lies about his GNP opponent (his wife and sons) because he could never win by any other means.

    These lies were masterminded by the then Hankyoreh President who was then paid off with the Chairmanship at KBS. Roh filled the administration with his cronies, started up his gangster press persecutions, Japanese collaborator witchhunts, etc. — and unbelievably kept on putting more and more of these radical progressives on the payroll. The government is not simply filled with progressives in the lead positions, but progressives at every level of government. He even tried to legalize the Hanchongryeon — the same guys who were slitting the police throats with sharpened pipes. Roh and his ilk stacked the administration and public corportations with progressives. Many in the government have not been rooted out yet.

    What you see LMB doing is only the start — he will be cleaning house from top to bottom. This ties in with his promise to reduce the size of government and merging functions and etc etc etc. A lot of KDJ-Roh supporters are going to be out of a job — and they are all sharpening their knives to attack LMB.

    As we all agree, the anti-US beef protests did not have anything to do with beef. It was an attempt to destabilize the LMB administration. This insane protest was the progressives way of fighting for their lives.

    The LMB group witchhunt is out to root out all the Roh appointees. Lee's promise to do away with "government by committee" is a start. Some of the easy ones were the various committees (with progressive agendas that had nothing to do with TRUTH or JUSTICE) who resigned in protest to the LMB pressure (i.e., 14-man Roh appointed KNP Human Rights Committee who were there just to stick knives in the KNP's back.) The next one on the agenda is the National Human Rights Commission (NHRCK) which LMB moved from under the Prime Minister to directly under his office. They are shooting paint balls for the radical left, but sooner or later the LMB boys will figure out how to clean them out — perhaps simply by cutting off their funding. Who knows.

    But the point I'm trying to make is that though LMB is in office and the GNP has taken control, the progressives have spent the past ten years filling the posts with their good ol' boys. It's going to take a while. Another example of the behind the scenes changes in rooting out dthese people can be GUESSED at by outside observers. For example, the courts exonerated the Lone Star Fund and its Korean representative on its appeal. The FSC still staffed with progressive appointees with their xenophobic agenda tried to halt the sale of the KEB AGAIN…but silently the Lee folks went to work. Within one week, the FSC was reviewing the sale of KEB to HSBC.

    As LMB gets into full swing, more and more of these out of work boys — top to bottom — will be creating more and more trouble. Paybacks are hell says LMB. But it works both ways.

    The point I'm trying to get across is that I get the impression that a lot of people out there believe that simply because LMB and Conservatives were elected to office that things will change immediately. It won't.

    It's going to be a fight…ministry by ministry…office by office … position by position. The progressives have been stacking the deck for a decade and only the political appointees will disappear first, but how many of the 10,000 extra progressives that Roh added will be cut?

    This fight hasn't even started.

  • In Seoul
    10:23 am on August 8th, 2008 3

    @2

    Interesting thoughts. :smile:

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    2:36 pm on August 8th, 2008 4

    "In fact, the reason he won the close election – is exactly what caused Korean society to turn on him and hem his administration in for the next 5 years.

    Every chance they got, no matter what Roh did, the voters voted his party out and put pressure on him to do things that were not in his character or ideology."

    Hate to rain in on your party here, usinkorea, but you're drastically misreading the situation.

    The gridlock and general dysfunction that symbolized the Roh years wasn't due to the schizophrenic nature of South Korea's anti-Americanism, but rather entirely a product of the Roh's administrations inability-or perceived inability-at DOMESTIC governance. Issue ranging from skyrocketing housing prices, inability of college graduates to gain meaningful employment, perceived stagnant economic growth and investment, to problems of Korea's education system, did the most to "hem" Roh's administration.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    5:10 pm on August 8th, 2008 5

    Kalani,

    Much of this is about where we are fousing. I like to gauge "the society as a a whole" or "average Koreans."

    For me, the progressive groups, or even the conservative civic groups, are most important in relation to how much and how often they are able to capture the attention/support of the masses.

    So, when there is a big rally involving tens of thousands of pro-US marchers like the other day for the Bush visit, I think it is good, but how often does it happen? How much does it represent what the society as a whole likes to think/feel?

    Roh and Kim had a decade to restaff the government. That is a very big point for Lee to deal with.

    That will take some time and limit his ability to get things done somewhat.

    But, how much he will be able to do will depend – as I'd guess it does in any democracy – on how much public support he has among the masses.

    A president with a high approval rating can do much.

    One in the toilet can't.

    Roh found himself in the toilet from very early in his tenure – and though Calabresi can't see or admit it – Roh had such a bad start that he never could recover from – because of how he got elected — due to his perceived anti-US sentiment.

    In early 2003, Korean society's mind was fixated on whether or not USFK was going to pack its bags and leave — and how much damage had been caused to Korea's international image due to the press coverage of what happened at the end of 2002.

    Anybody who can't admit that has their head buried deep in the sand.

    That is why Roh had no support from the people immediately after he took the Blue House.

    And he was never able to recover it.

    Yes. Part of the reason he never regained public support was his ineptitude and the state of issues unrelated to the US in Korea.

    (But that in itself was somewhat of a catch-22: he had no public support to push through significant reforms – even if he had had the intelligence to design them. And without successful reforms – there was no way for him to regain massive public support…)

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    5:51 pm on August 8th, 2008 6

    Listen usinkorea, I know that the issue of anti-Americanism in Korea is one of your little cherished shibboleths that you don't hesitate to ruminate on when the opportunity arises. But the argument you're trying to make as to why the Roh government was so ineffectual during it's five years is entirely unpersuasive.

    For instance, you quip that "Roh found himself in the toilet from very early in his tenure…" and the "Roh had no support from the people immediately after he took the Blue House." Reading those two statements it's clear that if anybody has their head in the sand that it's you, usinkorea.

    If it's true, as you say, that Roh had very little support from the Korean populace at the start of his tenure, then please tell me why thousand of marchers convened on Yeouido to protest the impeachment proceedings against him instigated by his opponents in the GNP? Why, if Roh had minimal public support at the very beginning of tenure, did his now defunct Woori Party have the ability to pull of a strong showing in April of 2004 during the impeachment debacle?

    To try diagnose the reasons for the failure of the Roh administration requires more than relying on one's own pet intellectual obsessions. What you're doing, usinkorea, is much like the proverbial guy who misplaces his keys in a dark parking lot so decides to go looking for them in a totally seperate area simply because that's where the lights are on.

  • ATOR
    6:04 pm on August 8th, 2008 7

    Gaetano Calabresi is a kyopo.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:30 pm on August 8th, 2008 8

    Calabresi,

    As I said, there was more than 1 reason Roh remained unpopular, but it is your inability to accept criticism of Korean society's anti-US habits that causes you to conflate what I am saying.

    Your points about impeachment speak to the level of support or animosity there was in Korean society at that time. It does not take away from what I have said about why Roh found himself so unpopular so fast at the start of his administration.

    Nobody can look back at the 2002 election and what was driving Korean society in early 2003 and fail to understand that the US relationship with Korean society was what was on everybody's mind.

    Notice — I do not say that Korea had the same fixation when Roh was almost impeached.

    See. I can and readily admit everything in Korean society isn't about the US…

    But Roh's disapproval ratings early on were most certainly a reflection of fear of how much he might harm the US-SK relationship now that he had gone from a progressive National Assembly member to the president in charge of all foreign policy.

    Thousands of marchers in Korea against Roh's impeachment doesn't say much of anything on its own.

    Thousands of marchers could just be from Roh's core supporters.

    But, the GNP was not able to impeach Roh and get him out of office.

    That would mean, to me, the GNP did not enjoy enough popular support for doing that.

    To you, that means the public supported Roh.

    Your case is bolstered by the 2004 election results, but I don't think many people would say that that election proved Roh had a popular mandate.

    But I highly doubt that is what most people familiar with Korea would say.

    The 2004 election was more about displeasure with the GNP and the impeachment than support for Roh and Uri.

    Korean society didn't want to see its president impeached. But it was clear then and all along through his term – Roh's public popularity was low.

    The reason why had a lot to do with how he won the election and how worried Korean society was about the state of the US-SK relationship.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:39 pm on August 8th, 2008 9

    If they feel like it, and if they are reading this thread, I'd like to hear Kalani and the Flying Yangban's opinions on this….

    ….they have watched the inner workings of Korean politics for years and have the language skills to keep up with it….

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    7:25 pm on August 8th, 2008 10

    Excuse me for butting in here. As you know I am a chronicler of events. One of the personages, I have followed closely has been Roh Moo-hyun.

    I'm finding small factual errors in both your arguments. For example, Roh's impeachment was spearheaded by the MDP (now the UDP) because Roh stabbed them in the back — taking their endorsement to become President and then split the party with his Uri Party. The GNP just jumped on the bandwagon thinking they had a free ride.

    I believe the outrage that followed was less of support for Roh Moo-hyun, but rather more of a condemnation of BOTH the progressive MDP and conservative GNP as politicians trying to impeach a President over the flimsiest of excuses. It was a farce — and even I as someone who didn't like Roh could see that it was wrong. Both parties deserved to be damned. They placed politics over the welfare of the nation.

    As to his INITIAL gaffs, it was inexperienced people in office. It was a fiasco of "government by amateurs" as the pundits called it. And it went down hill from there.

    Perhaps to jog your memories, please visit my page "Roh Moo-hyun: Radical Reformist or Anti-American" at http://kalaniosullivan.com/OsanAB/RohMooHyun.html .

    I take all responsibility for any opinions expressed on the page and the newspaper articles commented on have links.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:47 pm on August 8th, 2008 11

    You're not butting in.

    In fact, as I noted when asking for your insight, I know you and Yangban have specialized in looking at the inner workings of Korean politics and politicians more than most in the K-blogsphere….

    Do you remember an article within the last year or so talking about Roh's early days in office?

    I'm trying to track it down.

    It was about how Roh's crew was grilling non-political government officials. One of the quotes was from an official talking about how some people would come flying out of the meeting room sweating bullets – and there was one direct quote about an official being attacked for being "pro-American" when saying something about public policy that – as I remember it – wasn't really that connected to the US or US in Korea????

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    8:07 pm on August 8th, 2008 12

    Kalani,

    I read most of that post.

    It was my general feeling too that Korean society's displeasure at impeachment was more about disliking the attempt than liking President Roh.

    I would say, however, that I don't think it is an "either-or" thing when discussing Roh — radical reformer or anti-American.

    Haven't both gone hand-in-hand quiet often in the past in Korea?

    For Calabresi, I'll point out: I don't include Kim Dae Jung in that category:

    He was a long time leader in opposition to the authoritarian governments, but as far as I know, his anti-Korean government effort was not also an anti-US in Korea effort.

    With Roh, from what I know, it was.

    And from what I read, those two represent a general split among groups who spent decades opposing Park Chung Hee and the later generals.

    Back to Kalani's post…

    Roh did put inept people in office – but weren't some of those cronies also like-minded anti-USers…..like the Unification Minister who talked about the invisible hand that had been guiding Korea to ruin going back into the late 1890s?

    I think Roh's decision to dispatch troops to Iraq is a key to understanding his early tenure:

    He clearly showed in his idiotic public statements that he did not agree with the Iraq War nor liked US foreign policy in general – but he nonetheless decided to send troops.

    (His statements were ignorant not because of what opinion they expressed — but because they made him look like a damn fool for undercutting the very same policy decision he was announcing!!)

    He decided to send troops even though he knew that would piss off his core supporters.

    But he did it because he felt he had to try to win back wider support from the masses. (Which means he realized he did not have their support).

  • The Korean
    12:29 am on August 9th, 2008 13

    USinKorea,

    Good thoughts, and I think you are more or less correct. But the fact that you chose to focus on Korean "society as a whole", I think, adds an unnecessary confusion.

    Korea, as a whole, moves erratically with respect to its relation with America, like you correctly pointed out. But trying to find the reason for such an erratic movement on the level of Korea as a whole, I think, presupposes some type of "collective Korean consciousness".

    As an analogy, consider this. There is a huge ball, enough to contain as many as 10 people in it. And that ball is moving in an erratic fashion, jerking about in all directions.

    Your analysis was spot on up to the part when you observed that the ball was jerking about. But your conclusion essentially was that: "There is one guy sitting in that ball, and he can't quite make up his mind where to go." (Or, "his movement appears strange, but it has its own logic that may appear irrational.")

    But I think it would be more elucidating to open up that ball and see how many people are pushing at which direction. If we had 4 people pushing in one direction, 4 people pushing in another, and 1 person kept on switching back and forth, you would have an erratic movement.

    In other words, the fact that Korea appears to be unable to make up its mind about America really has to do with the fact that there are many people, similar in number, who feel polar opposite about America. I would say those who like America outnumber those who do not, but those who don't make louder noises.

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    3:29 am on August 9th, 2008 14

    Okay, usinkorea, let's go back to square one here. Your contention is that Roh Moo-Hyun's anti-Americanism won him the election but latter came to due him harm very early in his term. According to you, the Korean populace, realizing the monstrous error that they had made in fanning the flames of anti-Americanism during the 2002 presidential election, suddenly did a volte-face and demanded that Roh backtrack on what he said on the campaign trail and conciliate with the Americans.

    In fact, you also go on to say this: "…the reason[anti-Americanism]he won the close election – is exactly what caused Korean society to turn on him and hem his administration in for the next 5 years." So, no, usinkorea, you most certainly did not say nor think that there was "more than one reason" for Roh abysmal approval ratings. It's pretty clear that you think that Roh's anti-Americanism was THE reason for the failures of his administration.

    Sorry, usinkorea, but I'm going to have to ask for explicit, concrete evidence that Roh's anti-American salvos during the 2002 campaign, and the eventual so-called worries it caused amongst Koreans, was the cause for his administration's stagnation at the beginning and for the rest of his five years in office. Because what you offer is a lot of rhetoric and flimsy circumstantial evidence to bolster your case. For instance, you cite the fact that there was a lack of massive street demonstrations following Roh's decision to send ROK forces to Iraq. And that ergo this is proof that Koreans had deep and acute anxieties concerning the future of the US-ROK alliance upon Roh's election. The problem is, that you completely ignore the fact that Roh's decision to send Korean forces to Iraq caused serious uproar among his left-wing supporter and further weakend his base of support thereby weakening him further politically. Moreover, following the kidnapping of Kim Sun-Il and his eventual beheading by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Roh came under more intense criticism when he refused to delay or halt deployment plans.

    From all the poll data that I've read and the conversatons I've had with colleagues, friends, and associates during the time I worked in Korea, not once did I here someone say that his gripes with Roh Moo-Hyun were due to the possible harm he would do to the US-ROK alliance. If ever I heard such comments or read about them, they usually came from articles straight out the Chosun, Joong-Ang, or Donga. If not from the print media, then it was usually from the gatherings of geriatrics and octagenarians clad in military threads out near Seoul City Hall. Hardly what one would call a widespread public sentiment.

    The fact of the matter is, is that in every by-election or provincial election during Roh's term, polls and voters with their own mouths consistently indicated that the reason for their vociferous dissatisfaction for Roh was his inability to deal with economic or bread-and-butter issues. Rarely did the average voter ever voice concern that dissatisfaction with Roh stemmed from his anti-American views and the harm that it would do to the US-ROK alliance.

    As to the issue of impeachment and whether the populace was really supporting Roh or airing dissatisfaction with his opponents in the National Assembly, I think that the point is moot. Listen, support is support and a mandate to govern is a mandate to govern. According to the logic employed by Kalani and uninkorea, no victor in any democratic election would have any real support. Consider: by Kalani's and usinkorea's logic Bill Clinton's victory in '92 is actually meaningless because voters were actually expressing dislike and disdain for George H.W. Bush and his policies rather than actual like of Clinton himself. The truth is that this line of reasoning fundementally overlooks the fact as to why people vote for the other guy in the first place: because they can't stand the other guy!!

    Finally, the notion that I have an "inability to accept criticism of Korean societies anti-US habits…" is just downright silly usinkorea. I'm not arguing with you here to try apologize or prettify for you anti-Americanism in Korea. I'll be the first person to admit that there is anti-Americanism in Korea and that it does play a role in determining the parameters of public debate and their eventual outcomes. However, unlike you, I do not try and awkwardly force an argument that says the anti-American statements of an elected Korean president caused worry amongst his citizens and therefore lead to a lacksadaisacal term in office.

    I recognize that Korean anti-Americanism can be useful in explaining why certain things happen in Korean. But I just don't see the anti-American argument holding water as the reason for Roh's failures as president.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:39 am on August 9th, 2008 15

    #13

    I think your caution is good. You have to know what perspective you are working from when you talk about something like "the nation as a whole" — but such a perspective isn't useless.

    A society can/does have a collective will.

    Sometimes they are more unified behind something. Other times they are more evenly conflicted. They can also be a plurality of competing opinions/ideas/emotions.

    For example, the Vietnam War in American society. American society as a whole wasn't against the war. I don't know if a majority was against it by the end. But, we can certainly conclude that the society "as a whole" had lost the will to support the effort, and without that mandate from the society as a whole, the effort collapsed and had to be brought to an end.

    My opinion on the nature of anti-US culture in Korea is that — we can assign ideas to the "people as a whole" – even though the thoughts and feelings and influences about the US in Korea is a plurality.

    I think Korean society as a whole likes to occasionally join hands with the dedicated anti-US groups. They have grown to use anti-US sentiment as a primary source of Korean national pride. They want to keep the relationship strong, because they understand its value to them economically and for national security, but they also like to beat the hell out of it from time to time.

    I also think it is rightfully defined as the society as a whole — because the sentiment is nurtured in key Korean social institutions: schools (down to primary schools these days), movies, and other entertainment outlets, the media, and even among the political parties to the point you see it turn up occasionally in the courts and national assembly.

    Also, I heard the same opinions by too many adult Koreans over the years and heard them bring up the same topics – over and over again – month after month – prior to the events of 2002 — to believe anti-US sentiment is just something a signifiant minority of Koreans like to entertain.

  • The Korean
    4:34 am on August 9th, 2008 16

    Your observation that "Korean society as a whole likes to occasionally join hands with the dedicated anti-US groups" is very astute.

    And you convinced me — I do agree that there can be a collective national will. But gauging that would be a tricky business, if only because there are so many things involved.

    But I'm still not convinced about whether we can speak about Korean people's collective attitude toward America. I just don't see a level of consensus to properly say Korean people as a whole have a certain attitude towards America. (Unlike your Vietnam War example — by the end of the war, there was a pretty clear mandate from American majority that disliked the war, and Richard Nixon obliged.)

    Because you are trying to come up with a grand theory explains the erratic nature of Korean people's attitude toward America, I think you end up sounding a bit too strained in your explanation.

    I have to ask you though, because I don't know your background. Who are the Korean adults you spoke to? If they are generally under 40 and English-speaking, I'd say your perspective is limited. In the same token, I always harp on my blog that direct access to Korean media in Korean is absolutely critical in understanding all components of Korea. Conservative newspapers are about the only media outlet that Korean conservatives have, unlike the younger liberal generation who has mastered inundating the internet with their screeching.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    4:44 am on August 9th, 2008 17

    #14

    I say Roh's anti-US sentiment — helped him over the top in the election. I believe that is pure fact. It can't be denied, and it has been recognized since the election took place.

    It was certainly not the only or primary reason he won the election. But it is absolutely what gave him enough votes in such a close election. Everybody knows that.

    "It’s pretty clear that you think that Roh’s anti-Americanism was THE reason for the failures of his administration."

    No it isn't. If you are reading that from what I wrote, you've read way too much into it.

    Roh was inept as president. He showed he was in over his head fairly early. He even begged out of the job.

    One of Roh's biggest problems, and it wasn't necessarily his fault, was that — his election victory was so thin. He was not given a resounding mandate in that election, and he only added to his problems as he went along.

    I DO say — that the US relationship with Korea was THE key item on South Korea's mind from the time of the end of the campaign through his first months in office.

    Again – this is pure fact. Nobody who was in or paying attention to Korea at that time – can say differently.

    I've already offered examples. Roh's early decision to send troops to Iraq is a key one. It was against Roh's character and done in significant part to curry favor with the Korean public and it curried favor with the Korean – not because they believed in the war — because they didn't — but because they believed it would help shore up the US relationship and that it would hurt the relationship if they didn't send troops.

    And I'm not even close to going out on a limb in saying that.

    You dismiss this idea by pointing to Roh's leftist base. Yes. They did protest.

    Did those protests represent the thoughts of average Koreans? No.

    If you believe most of Korean society was in line with Roh's core supporters on the troop dispatch, that is a point in which we differ and I feel safe in guessing most readers familiar with Korea here would disagree with you.

    You never heard anybody but the press and typical conservatives you dismiss complain about Roh possibly hurting the alliance, fine.

    I would say, as I have said, Roh's going to Washington, dispatching troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and some other smaller items like how he dealt with the US on base relocation and cost sharing, were — out of character for him ideologically but were done to curry favor with the public.

    And notice the point —- currying favor with the public naturally eases their concerns.

    Roh was able to ease the concerns about his anti-US background by doing these things. That is part of the "hemming him in". He was forced to do things he would not have done otherwise.

    "Listen, support is support and a mandate to govern is a mandate to govern."

    So, your opinion is that Roh had a mandate? That he had support from the people?

    If it is, I think you're wrong, and I think a majority of people would agree with me.

    And it isn't about "logic" inherent in an electoral system — The two of us were analyzing a specific election and subsequent events.

    If Uri party had a mandate from the people, where can you see it? They couldn't get anything done. They were not popular. And they lost election after election. By the time of the recent presidential election, they weren't even really a party.

    On your ability to admit the nature of anti-US, I made a mistake and apologize.

    I conflated you with Shunyata's comments in the thread from the other day.

    Sorry….

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    5:00 am on August 9th, 2008 18

    The Korean adults I taught were generally between the ages of 25-35 with some college aged and some older sprinkled in.

    I agree having Korean language skills is a huge weakness in making my points – and could be a huge weakness in my understanding of Korean society.

    If that is the case, it is the case.

    But, from what I do know and have experienced, I don't think I'm wrong in most of my thoughts about Korean society in relation to anti-US sentiment.

    One reason a discussion on that aspect of Korean society gets convoluted is that — it is a complex thing.

    Another is that — the elements of it or demonstrations of it are often illogical or irrational.

    There is a natural tendency to want to locate order and reason in the world. It has how the human brain works in making sense of things.

    But society often doesn't act on sense or reason.

    This is one of the biggest handicaps I've seen people have in looking at Korea's anti-US habits.

    When something like Cows Gone Wild!! Hysteria breaks out, people see how crazy Korea is going and think, "There must be something too it?"

    "Is US beef really safe?"

    "I guess Lee should have done more to put out the facts?"

    "Maybe it is Lee's arrogance that caused it?"

    I am not dead-set against entertaining these ideas, but they never hold up to me.

    I'll say this again —

    I had been predicting something like Cows Gone Wild!! Hysteria would happen once the GNP was returned to the Blue House.

    I was saying at the end of last year that — now — we would see some of my pet ideas put to the test — that 2008 would be a key test of them.

    And I say I was proven right.

    I do believe it would be a great help and advantage for me if I had adequate Korean language skills.

    I admit I can also be wrong on some or many things.

    But, based on what I've seen and considered, I believe I am more right than wrong.

    And I think I just got a very important confirmation of that this summer.

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    5:29 am on August 9th, 2008 19

    A number of weird statements you make here usinkorea that I would like to address.

    First:

    "I say Roh’s anti-US sentiment — helped him over the top in the election. I believe that is pure fact. It can’t be denied, and it has been recognized since the election took place.

    It was certainly not the only or primary reason he won the election. But it is absolutely what gave him enough votes in such a close election. Everybody knows that."

    Sorry usinkorea, but you're hedging here. While you're still willing to entertain ideas that Roh's anti-US sentiment wan't the primary factor in his electoral victory, you're still adding undue, exaggerated weight to it. Instead of considering Roh's anti-US stance but one factor during his electoral victory, you push it's importance beyond any analytical usefulness. Consider this passage from a paper written back in February 2003 for the Asia Society by Hoon Juang:

    "How did the governing party candidate score such a dramatic victory in December? Why did the voters not punish the governing party again in the presidential election? Because the governing party had drastically renovated itself. Roh and the reform faction within the MDP introduced fundamental reforms within the party, and they were successful in presenting a different party to voters during the presidential campaign. They introduced primaries for presidential-candidate nominations and separated presidential power from the party. By adopting U.S.-style primaries for nominations for the first time in South Korean political history, the governing party transformed itself from a pre-modern, elite party to a modern, open party. It also attracted voters who had long been eager to participate in the decision-making processes of political parties. Presidential primaries in sixteen provinces and cities across the country attracted widespread participation among voters and party members. Approximately 1.8 million voters participated in the party primaries that selected 35,000 delegates. The primaries further enhanced the MDP’s reform image by selecting a dark horse with a reform bent and populist image, Roh Moohyun, rather than the famous frontrunner, Rhee In-je.

    In contrast, the opposition Grand National Party lagged far behind in the race for party reform. Only after the primaries of the MDP had thrilled the country did the GNP introduce its own primaries. Lee Hoi-chang, the predictable winner, was hastily selected leaving little belief that deep reform had taken place within the GNP.

    As a result, many voters came to perceive the MDP as a renovated party with a young, popular leader capable of dismantling the old, closed, oligarchic political parties of the three Kims era. In striking contrast, the GNP, with its lukewarm attitude toward political reform, was viewed as more of the same…

    While the main targets of the two main candidates during the campaign were undecided voters, their approaches to reaching them were strikingly different. Roh used and even invented new ways of campaigning that worked in concert with the changes within society, whereas Lee relied upon traditional campaign tactics. Roh’s campaign focused on communication, volunteers, and information technologies. The linchpin was NOSAMO—or “the association of voters who like Roh Moohyun.” It represented the nation’s first large, voluntary support organization for an individual politician. The association, 70,000- members strong, became actively involved in party primaries, electoral campaigning, and fundraising. It organized rallies during the primaries and campaign, led online debates, and initiated the movement for small donations to be made to their candidate. Thanks to the association’s efforts, hundreds of thousands of Internet users visited Roh’s official campaign site every day, exchanging and sharing views on election issues during the campaign. They also helped Roh accumulate 7 billion Korean Won (approximately U.S. $6 million) from 200,000 small-amount contributors. This grassroots-style fundraising —common within advanced democracies —came into full fruition for the first time in the South Korean democracy.

    Lee’s campaign could not compare to Roh’s. Crowds that were made up of mostly middle-aged voters filled the halls of his campaign rallies. Money or other material incentives mobilized most of them. Lee did not completely ignore the power of communication technology. He attempted to emulate Roh’s tactic by pouring a substantial amount of money into political advertising on the Internet and TV. Yet such efforts proved futile due to his aristocratic image and lack of understanding about the Internet generation. Furthermore, the public was well aware that Lee’s two sons had not served their military duty and that Lee led a life of luxury. To Lee’s dismay, political advertising could not change the voters’ perceptions. While rock stars and popular actors played key roles in Roh’s TV advertising, middle-aged politicians dominated Lee’s advertising. Also, in sharp contrast with Roh, Lee’s campaign funds came mostly from large donations from big businesses and close friends."

    I suggest reading the whole thing on your own:
    http://www.asiasociety.org/publications/update_korea2.ht...

    Second:

    "I would say, as I have said, Roh’s going to Washington, dispatching troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, and some other smaller items like how he dealt with the US on base relocation and cost sharing, were — out of character for him ideologically but were done to curry favor with the public.

    And notice the point —- currying favor with the public naturally eases their concerns."

    Okay, so according to you the Korean public had the concerns eased, so why didn't Roh's approval rating go up? Why didn't he gain any sort of political capital in which to utilize in order to enact his reform agenda?

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, usinkorea, but according to your argument, upon Roh's election, the Korean public had serious concerns that Roh's anti-US sentiments would result in a catastrophe for the US-ROK alliance. And because of those concerns Roh had very little support or mandate the minute he got out of the gate.

    But yet you cite instance were Roh took actions that should have ameliorated such a problem. And yet the documented record clearly shows that such actions to "curry favor with the public" had little effect on Roh's standing during his time in office.

    I don't know usinkorea, your general argument has a gaping lacuna to it.

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    5:36 am on August 9th, 2008 20

    Gaetano –

    Before I get embroiled in this mess let me clarify a few things:

    "According to the logic employed by Kalani and uninkorea, no victor in any democratic election would have any real support. According to the logic employed by Kalani and uninkorea, no victor in any democratic election would have any real support. Consider: by Kalani’s and usinkorea’s logic Bill Clinton’s victory in ‘92 is actually meaningless because voters were actually expressing dislike and disdain for George H.W. Bush and his policies rather than actual like of Clinton himself. The truth is that this line of reasoning fundementally overlooks the fact as to why people vote for the other guy in the first place: because they can’t stand the other guy!!"

    PLEASE don't put words into my mouth that you have somehow latched onto somewhere. I would NEVER say such stupid garbage as you just wrote…and have NEVER said such tripe in my pages on my website over the years. Clinton was a lying, cheating, whore-mongering, sleeze-bag and draft-dodger — but a charismatic and eloquent one. The American people voted him into office by majority, and I simply said, "Well, America deserves what it gets." And it got a bunch…then they re-elected him. In the end, he was a sleeze-bag President, but MY sleeze-bag President. If this sounds like your premise, "support is support and a mandate to govern is a mandate to govern" — it is. This I accept as the American way of political life. PLEASE don't do put words in my mouth…

    Second, you seem to be under the impression that I agree with USinKorea that there was anti-Americanism in the past anti-US beef protests. On this site, I have repeatedly stated that I saw no evidence of anti-Americanism during the past anti-US beef protests. There was anti-US government feeling, but none of the vile anti-Americanism seen in 2002 and to lesser degrees in the following years. I have documented it carefully in photos and video clips. I think I know very well what anti-Americanism is. My stand that there was no anti-Americanism places me at odds with USinKorea and GI Korea's positions, but these are just opinions. Please don't mix up my position with theirs…

    Thirdly, my opinion is that the Korean people have NEVER been happy having the US "occupiers" on their soil. I say this historically speaking if anyone cares to look at it — starting with the books on the Military Government during Occupation years through the days when Syngman Rhee was bought-and-paid for by the US through Park Chung-hee when the US wanted out, but the ROK desparately needed the US money to survive — and all the way to present days. Nowadays, most Koreans hold the opinion that the USFK needs to stay in Korea — UNTIL THEY ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED. There is nothing in this attitude about liking — or even hating — the USFK here. It is simply a fact of life — and Americans who want to hype it with their Katchikapshida phrases are deluding themselves. The Koreans are pragmatists — and the USFK is needed for now. But when the need is gone, the USFK will be kicked out the door faster than you can blink your eyes.

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    5:53 am on August 9th, 2008 21

    Kalani:

    As to your first point, I bring up the instance of Bill Clinton and his '92 election victory to point out a flaw in your line of reasoning concerning the outcome of the April 2004 elections following the impeachment of President Roh. That's all. Not, as you hysterically assert, to "put words in your mouth". Fact of the matter is, I don't know specifically what your views of Bill Clinton are nor do I care.

    Futhermore, it would be nice if either you or usinkorea could provide some evidence, whether in the form of anecdotes or polling data that clearly shows that Korean voters gave a boost to Roh's Woori Party in 2004 simply to spite MDP and GNP.

    And to reiterate my point, the reason that your analysis of the April 2004 election falls short is because in the end all elections are essentially about expressing some dissatisfaction with one group or person by voting for the group or person.

    As for your second and third points I'll respond to them as follows:

    1) I never even mentioned the US beef protests this summer in my exchange with usinkorea nor did I even attempt to debate with him whether there was an anti-US backing. Now you're the one putting words into my mouth, Kalani.

    2) Again, in the entire exchange I've had with usinkorea not once have I mentioned anything about the US garrison here in Korea. If this is an issue you wish to discuss please be my guest and have at it. But not with me because I don't really feel like debating it right now.

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    6:06 am on August 9th, 2008 22

    Gaetano –

    You need to separate USinKorea from me. His opinions are his opinions. If you want to attack him, go ahead. Leave me out of it as you seem so insistent on doing. What I say I've said on my website in documenting events in Korea. I don't need to prove anything to you on things that I've never said. End of topic.

    Sorry about the anti-US beef comment and USFK issues, but I thought maybe that was why you were mixing me up with USinKorea. It has been mentioned in these threads. Anyway, you now know that I don't necessarily agree with USinKorea on his points. I simply haven't commented on them enough — except to offer a link where you could check out some facts you two seemed to be mixing up.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:00 am on August 9th, 2008 23

    The article does nothing to move me off my opinion.

    Roh won a very close election, and it was clear to everyone he pulled the election out by a hair because of the anti-US euphoria that was going on at the time and his history as a human rights lawyer and opposition politician who at one time had helped petition for the removal of USFK.

    You are acting as if November-December 2002 didn't happen — as if hundreds of thousands of people were not filling the streets after months of protests due to the armored vehicle accident.

    There is nothing "weird" in my ackowledgment of the reality that took place during that election.

    "Why didn’t he gain any sort of political capital in which to utilize in order to enact his reform agenda?"

    Because they still didn't trust him and he also wasn't able to convince him his other policies were great.

    Just because an action eased fears does not mean it necessarily had to generate positive momentum.

    And that is the heart of your current dismissal of my opinion: that if Roh was not given a popular mandate to enact his policies, then his dispatch of troops to Iraq was not meant to curry favor from the public and did not curry favor for him.

    And that is not how it had to be — and I say again it was not how it was.

    I framed my argument differently.

    I said Roh's actions were the confirmation of my opinion about Korean society's mood at the time. Because, they were actions counter to specific pledges Roh made and against his natural ideological instincts.

    Why do you think Roh sent troops to Iraq?

    You have completely omitted the anti-US activity that was going on in late 2002-2003 — how can you do that?

    I'm not going to look up links to point out something that is so fundamentally obvious.

    Hundreds of thousands of Koreans were filling the streets.

    This activity had been going on for months and months. It took up much of 2002 in two different protest cycles.

    And your line of reasoning acts as if it didn't happen or had little influence on the election or Roh's early tenure in office — as if it had nothing or very little to do with Roh sending troops to Iraq.

    It makes no sense given what we all watched happen in 2002 and 2003.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:38 am on August 9th, 2008 24

    Given how these running comments have come out, I thought I might regroup to state in clear terms what my belief is:

    1. The election of 2002 happened at a time of massive protest against the US in Korea.

    2. Roh's history as an activist with anti-US in Korea tendencies was a key factor in helping him over the top in a close election.

    3. During this same period, Korean society saw the US and international media giving a large amount of coverage to the anti-US activity.

    4. During this same time period, the US government announced troop cuts and Rumsfeld specifically said the US would remove all troops if that's what Korea wanted.

    5. The press coverage and notes from Washington frightened Korean society.

    6. Due in large measure to this public fear, Roh went back on his pledge not to "rush" to Washington and "kowtow".

    7. Also due in part to this fear, Roh decided to send troops to Iraq – which was a decision that went counter to his ideological insticts and what he wanted to do.

    8. Throughout the rest of his time in office, Roh and his people were never able to overcome the public fear that he might do something to further damage the US-SK relationship – and part of the reason for it was that some of his people kept saying things like the "invisible hand" comment.

    9. The fear of further damage to the US relationship also prevented average Korean society from joining in on typical anti-US activity throughout Roh's time in office.

    10. But, once the GNP was back in the Blue House, Korean society regained confidence the executive office would "do the right thing" in terms of keeping the alliance from collapsing. — And this led them to resume the type of anti-US activity that was common periodically before 2003.

    11. And the biggest point that backs up my line of thinking is — again —

    — that I had been predicting for the past several years we'd see something like the beef protests happen once Roh was out of office and a conservative/pro-US administration was back in charge.

    Also again, I don't see how anyone could reasonably deny some of these points given what we witnessed in 2002 and early 2003.

  • Roboseyo: A Few Must-Reads
    12:46 am on August 10th, 2008 25

    [...] ROK Drop has a piece on the ridicidonkonculous ass-backwardity of Korea’s flip-floppy “Listen to what I mean,… that is, all at once, the best explanation I’ve read so far of why being President of Korea might [...]

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    2:23 pm on August 9th, 2008 26

    Well, usinkorea, it doesn't particularly suprise me that you wouldn't be convinced. As I said in a previous comment, the concept of anti-Americanism is the organizing principle upon which you analyze and dissect Korean society. While this fixation on your part yields some interesting insights about Korean society from time to time, there are, sad to say, countless incidents where this fixation of yours yields to silly analytical conclusions. This discussion we're having is but one example.

    That being said, let me respond to another one of your weird comments.

    "You are acting as if November-December 2002 didn’t happen — as if hundreds of thousands of people were not filling the streets after months of protests due to the armored vehicle accident."

    Again, usinkorea, this is just silly. I'm fully cognizant of the fact that there were thousands of people filling the streets of downtown Seoul night after night in late 2002. In fact, I was working out of a building that was right smack dab in the middle of where the protests were occuring. I saw them happen in real-time with my own eyes.

    That being said, this continous harping on your part that Roh's anti-Americanism was the factor that helped vault him into office is just too pat. Truth be told, your argument that the anti-American demagoguery was the driving factor amongst Koreans in the 2002 election smacks of serious condescension on your part. This notion that Korean voters, in 2002, were in the grips of this irrational anti-American hysteria is at base a cartoonish view of Korean voters during the 2002 election. You utterly discount Koreans as rational, reasonable actors when choosing their next leader.

    Listen, I don't deny that the 2002 anti-American protests didn't play a role in the 2002 presidential election. But I'm not willing to go so far as you and say that it played the large, outsized role as you argue. In my view, anti-Americanism was but one factor, intermingling and acting in conjuction with other factors-such as superb campaign strategy on that part of Roh-that resulted in a win for Roh.

    Finally, I wan't to go back to your main argument. Not to repeat what you say, or sound like a broken record, but your argument comes down to this: During the 2002 presidential election Roh and the Korean electorate fanned the flames of anti-Americanism. Once elected on this wave of anti-Yankee sentiment, the Korean populace did a 180 degree volte-face and started registering concerns and anxieties that Roh's and their own anti-US sentiments during the campaign could now very possibly result in disaster for the US-ROK alliance. And because of this concern, Roh had difficulty in governing during his five years in office.

    If that's your argument, usinkorea, fine. But I'm going to have to ask you to either put up or shut up here. I demand that you show concrete evidence that this issue-the fear that the Korean populace had concerning Roh's anti-Americanism on the US-ROK alliance-was the reason for Roh's low approval ratings and inability to govern during his presidential tenure. Give me some sort of poll, analytical paper, or even anecdote that indicates that Korean voters were dissatisfied with Roh because of what he would do to the US-ROK alliance. Show me, quantitatevly or qualitatevly, that this was a serious concern among Korean citizens during Roh's tenure.

    And no, usinkorea, the lack of demonstrations over Roh's decision to deploy ROK troop to Iraq does not count. Fact is, there are a host of issue that piss off Koreans that don't result in street demonstrations. Your contention that because there's not massive street protest that ergo Koreans must have no problem with it is risible at best.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:22 pm on August 9th, 2008 27

    Fixation, silly, weird…fine….insult if you like, which you clearly do….

    Any reader who'd like to get past the cheap shots — go back and read Calabresi's comments and see if you can find where he mentions the anti-US activity that occurred during the 2002 election and where he speaks counter to a recognition of the importance anti-US sentiment had during that time period.

    fixation…fixation….silly…weird….

    In fact, he goes directly into a denial of what most of you witnessed back then:

    "This notion that Korean voters, in 2002, were in the grips of this irrational anti-American hysteria is at base a cartoonish view of Korean voters during the 2002 election."

    Any of the readers here who were in or watching Korea during that period will know which of us is closer to the mark.

    "In my view, anti-Americanism was but one factor, intermingling and acting in conjuction with other factors-such a"

    Other readers will also clearly understand what I meant when I said Roh's anti-US credentials "pushed him over the top in a close election" — something I must have said here three or four times now.

    "either put up or shut up here"

    I'm not going to waste my time looking for items to try to convince you of what I have to say — when it concerns items that are so widely recognized by people who were in or watching Korea in the 2002 and post-2002 period.

    It would be futile for me to try to convince them of something they witnessed themselves – and it would be futile for me to try to convince you – because you don't want to see it.

    Especially since you will hardly take the time to acknowledge or address examples and items I've offered already. This last comment is the first time you have given any consideration to the massive protests that occurred during the election in 2002 — and that is astonishing considering how massive those protest were and how central such activity is to what I've been saying.

    And when you finally address the anti-US activity in 2002 – you wipe it away at the same time. — which is again an impressive feat considering the size and duration of anti-US protests back then.

    Why I should I spend my time looking for links to articles to try to convince someone so clearly determined not to admit the sky is blue?

    You can throw all the cheap insults you want, but most readers here know and remember what was going on in Korea back then.

    And I'll continue to say anything I want.

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    11:50 pm on August 9th, 2008 28

    Per USinKorea:

    "…I'll continue to say anything I want." No doubt you will. In fact, I look forward to it.

    Also, the fact that I say you have "fixation" concerning Korean anti-Americanism wasn't intended as an insult. If you took it that way it's really your own personal problem, not mine. Given the previous posts of yours I've read, the anti-Americanism of Koreans is meme that consistently occurs again and again. I thought I just stating a mere fact. But I guess you somehow took that as an insult. Oh well. I say tomato, you say tohmahtoh.

    Second, I found this statement of your perplexing as well:

    "I’m not going to waste my time looking for items to try to convince you of what I have to say — when it concerns items that are so widely recognized by people who were in or watching Korea in the 2002 and post-2002 period.

    It would be futile for me to try to convince them of something they witnessed themselves – and it would be futile for me to try to convince you – because you don’t want to see it."

    Again, sorry USinKorea, I'm not going to let you duck out this so easily. The fact is I was in Korea, just like you, back in 2002/2003. I witnessed many of the same things that you did. To again go back to your argument concerning the failures and dissatisfaction with the Roh government; you assert that this was due to the fact that many Koreans registered dissatisfaction with Roh due to what they his anti-American ideology would due to the US-ROK alliance. If that's what you want to argue fine. Just show some explicit EVIDENCE that such is the case. And no, USinKorea, just because YOU or other likeminded individuals think it's obvious doesn't exempt you from providing evidence to prove your argument.

    Reading what your saying, you seem to have forgotten basic debating rules: the burden of proof goes to the individual making the assertion. Moreover, if it's so "obvious" then there's obviously really no need for you to spend your precious time searching for your "evidence". Truth is, it should be right there in your stinking lap. If it's so "obvious" then you should clearly have the evidence at you immediate disposal. But since your unwilling to provide it for me I'm only left to draw one logical conclusion: you don't have it. That your entire argument concerning Roh's failures as president is just a fumbling, get-egg-all-over-your-face attempt at creative analysis.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    1:03 am on August 10th, 2008 29

    You mean no insults. Sure.

    I stand by what I've said.

    I've stated several times why I believe what I believe. (Roh's trip to Washington, the troops dispatch decision, the beef issue exploding, and so on). If you don't think it is "evidence", fine….

    ….because it is again pointless to continue wasting time with someone who goes so far as to wipe away the environment in which the 2002 election took place.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    1:04 am on August 10th, 2008 30

    I forgot, I've covered some of these ideas and issues over the years at my website – with links and quotes.

    http://www.usinkorea.org

  • a listener
    2:00 am on August 10th, 2008 31

    "Well, usinkorea, it doesn’t particularly suprise me that you wouldn’t be convinced. As I said in a previous comment, the concept of anti-Americanism is the organizing principle upon which you analyze and dissect Korean society. While this fixation on your part yields some interesting insights about Korean society from time to time, there are, sad to say, countless incidents where this fixation of yours yields to silly analytical conclusions."

    As an American who has never set foot in Korea but became interested after the "Korea Sparkling" ads last year I would have to say that G.I. Korea is modest and tame at least when it comes to trying to analyze or understand Korea. A country can only publish soo many batshit crazy antics until it is not taken seriuosly anymore . The rest of the World will not sympathize with Korea's "special uniqueness" or other bull$hit myths about it. You put out images of yourself acting like a irrational idiot, those images are seen and of course a conclusion about you would be made. When you do it over and over and over again like Korea has, then outsiders have every right to discern it from what it spews out. How can you blame fixation when observing such strange behaviour by an advanced culture? When the French start chopping off heads of pheasants in the streets of their capitol for protests then maybe unwanted attention will be given to them.

  • Gaetano Calabresi
    3:27 am on August 10th, 2008 32

    Another bit of unintentional comedy on the part of USinKorea:

    "I’ve stated several times why I believe what I believe. (Roh’s trip to Washington, the troops dispatch decision, the beef issue exploding, and so on). If you don’t think it is “evidence”, fine…."

    You say it yourself without realizing it, USinKorea. Your entire argument is based on "belief". And that belief is buttressed by the flimsy pillars of illogical reasoning based of off very circumstantial evidence.

    And no, I am not trying to "wipe away the environment in which the 2002 election took place." If anything, I'm trying to get true believers such as yourself to view the events of 2002, and the Roh years in particular, through different lenses and perspectives. To try and at least attempt to look at diffrent trends and dynamics. In other words, I'm trying to impress upon you the need to base your analysis of Korea on something other than a solipsistic, US-centric rubric.

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    7:50 am on August 10th, 2008 33

    The links below are just for information. If you don't want to look at them don't.

    I do NOT want any part in this on-going debate between the two "combatants" since it has no value or interest to me … EXCEPT that for two guys who were here in 2002, they seem to have forgotten a lot of things. It was NOT as simplistic as they are making it seem. It wasn't.

    The links below are from my site and simply for reference. DO NOT INVOLVE ME IN THE ON-GOING BLATHER. I placed this here because I feel that the two seem to be warping and skewing the facts. I will NOT respond to comments from either of the "combatants" in the debate.

    Roh didn't start off as anti-American per se — rather anti-conservative (including the military regimes) and more of an opportunist than a true politician. As a legislator, his venom against the "military regimes" was seen in the National Assembly inquisitions. As the Minister of Fisheries, he started his campaign against the conservative "gangster press" (Donga, Chosun and Joongang Ilbos). Throughout his term as President, he showed how he would manipulate people to distract them from his failures which were too long to write here. Roh was not anti-American in the classic sense — only pro-North Korean.

    Don't only heap the anti-Americanism on Roh during the 2002 elections — ALL the politicians jumped on the anti-American bandwagon including the GNP Presidential candidate. However, when Roh was elected things got complicated. With Roh in office, there were future problems in store for the U.S. On the handling the North Korean situation, there were the reservations on how the U.S. handling is the situation with North Korea by both Korea and Japan. Roh favored continued engagement with North Korea and greater autonomy from United States. His victory set South Korea and U.S. on the most divergent diplomatic paths in the half century of close alliance. On Dec 20, Bush extended his congratulations to Roh and invited him to the White House at his "earliest possible convenience." According to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, "The president and president-elect agreed to work closely together to promote peace on the Korean peninsula and to further strengthen the U.S.-South Korean alliance." However, Roh had pledged to pursue the "sunshine policy" of Kim Dae-Jung, based on promoting contacts and reconciliation with North Korea), even as the Bush team was urging the international community to increase pressure on Pyongyang.

    http://kalaniosullivan.com/KunsanAB/8thFW/Howitwa

    Chronicles of Jun-Dec 2002 anti-Americanism, Roh elections, SOFA tensions, US-ROK alliance on the verge of dissoluton with hurried working groups in Washington, etc. etc. etc. These are follows the history of the vile anti-Americanism during that period.

    http://kalaniosullivan.com/KunsanAB/8thFW/Howitwa

    Chronicles of Kunsan AB: 2002. Look under World Cup games to see the anti-American feelings — but also extended to others. It explains why the explosion was in Jun 2002 instead of earlier.

    http://kalaniosullivan.com/KunsanAB/8thFW/Howitwa

    Chronicles of the Iraq War's first days and what was happening in Korea. Deomonstrations switched after the topple of Saddam Husseing from "No Bombing of Iraq" to "No Bombing of Iraq/No Bombing of North Korea." Through in Norths nuke admissions and situation gets very muddled. Look at the Roh "crocodile tears" speech before the National Assembly and how he had to "retranslate" it THREE TIMES to keep from causing an international stir with the US. Look at how his promise of troops translated to nothing — and finally the 2d ID moved out a 1600 man brigade — interesting the same numbers that Roh had "promised" but stalled and stalled and stalled until the ROK could be put in a safe place where not one Korean was killed — well, one suicide and one accidental shooting of an Iraqi guard — while the US toll climbed to over 3000.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    2:39 am on August 11th, 2008 34

    Roh's having petitioned for the removal of US troops would tend to hint that – as a progressive lawyer and activist – unlike Kim Dae Jung – his anti-authoritarian government feelings were mixed with anti-US in Korea sentiment — which I see as two divergent branches of the opposition movement before democratization.

    Roh also spoke out that if were elected, he would not going to America to kowtow as all the other presidents did.

    He also said that he would fundamentally alter the SK-US relationship, especially with the US in Korea, to make it more equal.

    Kalani, with all do respect, —- and I do mean in all do respect — I think your definition of "anti-Americanism" tends to be prohibitively narrow.

    I felt that was with the beef issue too.

    The protesters might not have been burning American flags, but to call them non-anti-US obscures root causes. If it were Canadian or Aussie beef, and they had had the same mad cow scare as the US 5 to 10 years before, do you think we would have seen Korea rise up as it did against Lee cutting a deal with Canada or Australia?

  • Avatar of KalaniKalani
    12:24 pm on August 11th, 2008 35

    Have tried to post three times in reply. USinKOrea please contact me at kalani@kalaniosullivan.com

  • shattered
    1:03 pm on August 11th, 2008 36

    "Fact is, there are a host of issue that piss off Koreans that don’t result in street demonstrations"

    List them. List the things that American do (real or imagined) that piss off Korans and they don't protest about.

    Gaetano Calabresi is a Korean. He sounds just like that "wankong942" guy that the MarmotHole blog owner works for.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:17 pm on August 11th, 2008 37

    I sent Kalani an email – the meat of which was again that I think the difference in our analysis of things stems from different definitions of what constitutes anti-Americanism. — and I thought that idea was worth at least a longer comment here…

    …because…over time….that has tended to be one of the common sources of divergent opinions between long-term and short-term expats alike.

    I'm thinking here about the occasional discussion where someone's view of anti-US sentiment is guided by how big the protests are or how violent. (I'm not referring to Kalani here – but a trend in the K-blogsphere).

    It has also been my feeling that this type of disagreement often happens between the GI or USFK-related expat and the ESL-ers or other expats who have more contact with Koreans day-to-day. (Again, I'm not talking about Kalani here – because he fits the second group)

    I've said all along (since the late 1990s) what concerns me isn't the street activity but what goes on elsewhere that provides — I guess you could say — preparation for street protests.

    Korean society would not be able to whip itself into the kind of frenzy we just witnessed over something as small and irrational as the beef deal — if it were not being prepped to do so elsewhere above the street.

    At least in the 2002 period, the horrific nature in which the 2 middle school girls died could offer some plausible explanation why some people got so angry about it.

    But, the 2000 water dumping case is another, like cows gone wild!! hysteria, where you see that the event itself isn't the main reason the protest happened.

    I no more believe the couple dozen gallons of a formaldehyde derivative dumped in the Yongsan sewer system were what generated all that heat in 2000 than I believe fear of catching mad cow disease (or Lee's arrogance) is what caused this latest major spike in street activity.

    It is the activity in Korean education and notes in the popular culture and elements like that which are the foundation for something like cows gone wild!! hysteria. The protests do help perpetuate themselves — and by that I mean all protests – related to the US or not. Korean protest culture helps perpetuate itself.

    But, when you see how Korean society held off on big protests against the US in Korea for several years — despite things like the Iraq troops dispatch, the Pyongtaek base expansion, other trade issues and things like the APEC conference — only to reemerge on something like the beef deal – you have to look beyond the street to really understand what has been going on.

  • Report: US Agrees to Sell Global Hawks to South Korea
    10:28 am on August 14th, 2008 38

    [...] Drop (Aug 8/08) – South Korea, Elections, Mandates, and Habits… An American military blogger in South Korea offers some thoughts regarding Korean culture, the [...]

  • Wayen
    3:41 am on August 14th, 2008 39

    As you pointed out, there's a lot of congnitive dissonance among the Korean populace when it comes to the relationship with US. I myself don't quite get it even though I'm Korean. But the phenomenon you see is not all that unique in the Korea culture, in my opinion, in the sense that politicians play this game elsewhere as well.

    First of all, policitians do and say whatever is politically expedient on a given day. I don't know if you've seen a footage of Roh Moo-hyun getting a huge standing ovation from a cheering and hollering crowd of college kids during his campaign when he defiantly said something like "so what if I'm anti-US?", as in "so what's the big deal about being anti-US? We don't need them any more than they need us! To hell with them!" I remember thinking, "hey, at least he's got a pair. Too bad that's pretty much all he's got to offer us". And we all know what he did afterwards after being elected to the office (just picture Roh going "Nailed it!" after the speech and the dinner with Bush). Yoo Si-min, one of Roh's loyal lap dogs, opposed sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq for about two seconds before he realized that he might make his master look bad if he got a little too uppity. Was I shocked to see those spineless politicians do a complete 180? Not really. They were just being politicians. I was little disappointed however because it would've been fun to see Bush's reaction to Roh doing his "Rebel Without a Clue" routine. It would've made a pretty good clip on youtube.

    What I do find baffling is not the hypocracy of politicians (especially the left leaning ones who reap plenty of benefits from every cliched anti-US slogan on every election), but rather this irrationality of the voters (especially young people. I'll come back to that subject later) which somehow believe that US of A is a bigger threat to the sanctity of this nation, when South Korea has a giant looney bin of a "nation" as its neighbor. To me, it's kind of like a teenager rebeling against her parents. She knows her parents can cut her allowance, ground her for two months, make her do chores, etc. She yells at them and call them names. But she also knows that they will never kick her out of the house or abandon her for good. Meanwhile she dates this no good, scruffy-looking boyfriend of hers who has a violent temper, hangs with the wrong crowd, and possibly deals drugs. She believes that he loves her more than anything in the world (because he said so) while her parents are appalled and scared to death because they KNOW that this dude is a Charles Manson,only more troubled. But this school girl thinks that this potential career criminal loves her more than their parents do even though the only agenda he has, if you can call it that, is to get into her panties. She hates her parents and even considers eloping because she doesn't understand why her parents cannot see what a good person her boyfriend is and how sincerely he loves her.

    At this point, some obvious questions must be asked.

    1) Why does this stupid school girl think that her parents who have devoted their lives to raising their daughter are mortal enemies while a dude with nothing but sweet words, an uncontrollable libido, and a criminal record is the love of her life who will sacrifice everything, even his life, for her?

    2) What makes this sweet school girl think that she has a much better judgement on people than her parents who have seen and heard it all?

    3) Where can I find dumb girls like that?

    I have heard some people who voted for Roh say to me "I wish I could cut off my hand that voted for Roh". Easy, old man! It's good enough if you just bang your head against the wall for 5 minutes 10 times a day. Cutting off hands is way too messy and the landfills are overflowing with enough shit already. Whenever I hear someone say that, I feel like telling them "yeah, go ahead. Thanks to you shit-for-brains, people like me had to suffer as well". Let's face the ugly truth. People are idiots. Most of us are; that's how democracy works. Politicans always say "I trust the voters. They are smart and will make the right decision". Yeah, they will make the right decision FOR YOU! Because they are so easily manipulated and swayed. You just have to know which buttons to push. The truth is I don't trust the judgement of people who chose DJ AND Roh and complain about MB ruining everything (sure, Korea was Garden of Eden before MB took a bite out of that proverbial apple). I don't trust the intelligence of people who got all worked up after seeing PD Diary and poured out onto the streets. I don't trust the rationality of people who go nuts when their soccer team wins World Cup games even though they never pay any attention to soccer on regular days. I don't trust the attention span of people who give 80% approval ratings even before the new adminstration moved into office and give 10% approval ratings now because their government "ruined the economy" in six months.

    Havings saids that, I also don't trust the judgement of people who chose G.W Bush not once, but twice. I don't trust the judgement of young voters who are blindly marching under the Obamania flag even though he is an empty suit with a silver tongue, which is why politicians try to lower the voting age all the time, not the other way around (more stupid voters to manipulate! Oo-hoo!); it's a little ironic given that the average age of kids leaving their nest and becoming financially indepedent is going up. Think about that.

    This anti-US "movement" is a wedge issue that the leftists love to have on their docket to get easy votes from dumb voters. Deep down, we Koreans all know that a) we would never want to live in a god-forsaken hell-hole like North Korea under any circumstances, b) US is still the biggest trading partner c) US has always been a staunch ally to S.Korea, d) if we had to pick one nation as our ally, we would choose US any given day e) we want to be like US in terms of economical and military superiority and other areas where US excels.

    In the mean time, don't feel too bad if we march in the streets saying ugly things about your innocent American cows. We Koreans wannna feel self-righteous every now and then; it's the David vs. Goliath thing (we all cheer for underdogs, don't we?) We need that morale boost! We haven't chanted "Death to America" or fired AK47s into the air yet. Relax, we just playing, bro! So we are still cool, right?

  • usinkorea
    8:15 am on August 14th, 2008 40

    See, I give Korean society some more credit than that…

    I agree it does act out irrationally — but I think it is more "controlled" than that — more rational — a rationally chosen movement to vent.

    In 2002, they got too caught up in it, but that was a rare moment.

    2000 was the only other period since real democratization in the early 1990s where Korean society has let itself go anywhere close to the extent they they did in 2002 — and it was far short of the fury of 2002 — but they also quickly realized they had gone too far once the euphoria over the NK-SK Summit began to initially fade.

    What bothers me most about South Korean society's anti-US habits aren't the massive protests or the more common smaller scale ones —

    — but the elements that create an environment in which South Korean society is ready to let fly an irrational outburst — when they feel the time is right….

    On seeing the US as a bigger threat than the North, my bet from having taught Korean adults in the past is that they wouldn't be able to explain why if you started asking any questions that try to scratch beyond a bumper-sticker style statement — (and yes, Americans are like that too when stating opinions they have never put any thought into)…

    …but the foundation of the idea — from what I saw of it — was laid for the population in general in the early days of the Bush presidency when Korean society – beyond the usual far left — got angry at Bush's reversal of US approval of the Sunshine Policy and then labeled Korea (the Northern half) part of the Axis of Evil.

    (People forget that Korean society had kept up a steady though not high-key pressure against the US in Korea from the Fall of 2001 up to just a couple of weeks before the World Cup — with constant negative attention given to something as relatively minor as the possible(and then actual) choice of the F-15K as Korea's most advanced generation fighter plane — among other things given wide coverage in the press — which I know from having taught adults in Korea in the late 1990s – does reach further into the Korean public than the press does among American adults)

    The world was concerned about how far the recently awakened "sleeping tiger" (the US) was going to go after 9/11 – and the Axis of Evil speech particularly worried South Korean society – a society where adults, I was very surprised to see in the late 1990s, had pretty much no fear North Korea would attack the South, because the US was too strong and would surely defeat the North.

    So, after the Axis of Evil speech and 9/11, the idea took root among the general population that was advanced by the far left:

    That the US bombing or invading the North was much more likely by far to happen and cause a massive retaliation by the North than the North ever attacking the South on its own.

    The US putting pressure on the South Korean government to move forward with a fundamental reshaping of USFK's defense posture — including massive shifting of US forces off existing bases — to consolidate OFF THE DMZ – with much of it being placed out of and below Seoul –

    — scared the non-far left as a sign the US was preparing to leave -

    – but also led them to take up the idea the far left started selling – that such a move was a prelude to a Bush-led bombing of the North – since USFK moving out of Seoul well South of the DMZ would take GIs ot of harm's way and leave South Koreans to pay the price of retalization.

    At least one politician claimed in the press that the US would somehow spirit USFK away before North Korea could retaliate.

    But, I got the sense that the general public stuck more with the line that — moving troops off the DMZ just made it easier and more likely to bomb the North.

    Since 2001-2002, the US push to reshape USFK has waxed and waned with the South Korean government being somewhat successful in delaying it.

    Fear of the US bombing the North has also waxed and waned but has never come back to the level it had in the months after 9/11 and early into 2002. You could point to the invasion of Iraq as a period of significant unease, but I don't think it reached the earlier level.

    But, I believe that history is what is behind average Koreans who might say they see the US as a bigger threat.

    If you look beyond average Koreans, it is again rooted much further back in what the nutroot-left has been saying in Korea for years.

    —- Things like attacking Patriot missiles being brought into South Korea to defend against possible offensive missile attacks from the North — or the US push to get South Korea to join a regional defensive shield.

    The far left has tried to sell that to the general public as another way the US government is trying to make it easier to attack the North by making it harder for the North to retaliate. — but my sense was that they have only had minor luck selling that much to the public at large.

  • Wayne
    10:34 am on August 14th, 2008 41

    USINKOREA,

    you give Korean people a LOT more credit than I ever would :) And these are MY people! But I must say that I've known too many average citizens who harbor ill-feelings towards Korea's best ally based on false information or false impressions or even a complete lack of any information! I'm not suggesting they r dumb or uneducated or that some of the anti-American sentiment is groundless because America rightfully deserves some of that hatred or paranoia. Some of these folks are well educated, indepedent-thinking individuals, and a few of them are seriously smart people and yet they CHOOSE (I think they do) to see only one side of the coin. But based on my experience, I'd venture a guess that most of the other average citizens are also largely misinformed or underinformed about US, its history, and its foreign policy toward other nations, and the left-leaning media is aggrevating the situation with shameless sensationalism and yellow journalism in some cases. As the MBC's PD Diary fiasco proved once again, it is so very easy for the media to create a mass hysteria amongst a poluation using clever editing, some choice words, and an illusion of gravitas. I found yesterday an interesting article by a documentary film maker Erol Morris, one of my favorite filmmakers ( http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/?scp=1-spot&s… ) which reminds me once again that the 21C's best and worst weapon of choice may be information/misinformation.

    Getting back to the original question of Koreans' apparently conflicting sentiments toward US, so why this hysteria and paranoia, you might ask? The thing is you don't really have to be an expert on the US foreign policy to develop this paranoia (ignorance is not necessarily bliss). America for better or worse has been deeply involved in and on certain occasions proactively engineered the course of this nation; even historians and experts don't know for sure to what extent the US imposed its will on the past Korean governments since Lee Seung-man's regime. And we don't have a whole lot of tell-all books written by former government officials and insiders so when it comes to speculating on the clandestine stuff between US and Korea, your guess is as good as mine. And it's no secret that US has been actively meddling with certain regimes under the banner of Pax Americana for more than half a century. For example Iraq, Iran, Seria, Cuba, El Salvador, Nicagarua, just to name a few. Even JFK, a liberal's darling and an icon around the world, had seriously questionable foreign policy ideas (see Bay of Pigs) that would be sliced and diced by the liberal media of today. Given this history, American would be hard-pressed to sell the idea to the current generation of Korea that USA is just a friendly bear that has only good intentions and wants no harm ("hey, those assasinations and regime change stuff we did, that was our predecessors, not us! Friends?") So it's not all that irrational for average Korean citizens to have in their heads this picture of Bush and neocons plotting their next sinister moves in a dark, windowless room. What I find irrational is the younger generation's hugely misguided notion that North Korea is somehow less of a threat than USA. It's illogical at best and downright insane at worst.

    Now I'm not getting into an argument on whether or not the net effect of the US foriegn policy has been good for the world; it's just too complicated stuff and not enough time has passed for it to be judged fairly. But you'd have to admit that it has been quite visible enough to develop a certain amount of paranoia in a lot of people around the world, not just Koreans.

    9/11 and the Bush doctorine only rekindled that paranoia, although to be fair his policy has gradually moved toward a more centrist approach since 2003. Some of the Bush haters only make the situation worse by insinuating through the media that the Bushies are nothing but a corrupt group of politicians determined to furthur the America's imperial ambitions and replenish their coffers with corrupt business dealings and no-bid contracts. (btw, contray to what liberals/far-left might think, I believe that Bush and his neocon people were and still are true-believers, no matter how misguided and incompetent they might be)

    But enough with the painful memories from the past. One thing this mad cow thing proved is that the loudest do not necessarily represent the silent majority in Korea. And the bombardment of sensational sights and sounds disseminated through the attention-hungry media prodly wearing political agendas on their sleeves do necessarily reflect the true feelings among the Korean populace toward America. Mr.Kims and Ms.Parks that you personally know may give you a much more accurate idea of where the Korea-US relationship is, not the would-be psychologists in the media. At least so I hope.

  • usinkorea
    11:38 am on August 14th, 2008 42

    I didn't have time yet to read your 2nd comment in full — but I wanted to say I should have added to the last post — in American society, I am one of those people – like you labeled politicians – who believe society "as whole" as I like to say – is not as ignorant — as someone might think given the number of ignorant people in America.

    I don't think society in the US or Korea is as "controlled" by the media as some.

    I think in both Korea and the US, and perhaps in democracies in general, the media is as controlled by the people as it controls them – because they have pressure to give the people what they want.

    (This is less so in Korea where government funds go to the media)

    For example, right now in the US, given what the media is doing for the Obama and Demcrat campaign, you'd imagine Obama would be 20 points or more ahead of McCain – instead of pretty even.

    In fact, I say, if Obama fails to win the election – it will be more important as a statement about the state of the media in American society than what voters felt about Obama.

  • Wayne
    1:14 pm on August 14th, 2008 43

    "In fact, I say, if Obama fails to win the election – it will be more important as a statement about the state of the media in American society than what voters felt about Obama."

    Agreed. It would also be a testament to how lame the Democrats really are.

 

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