ROK Drop

Avatar of USinKoreaBy on May 3rd, 2012 at 6:22 pm

The Role of Anti-Americanism in Korea’s Social Movement Culture–Academic View

This one looks very interesting since it’s a topic I’ve been watching and writing about since about 1998.  Here is the abstract:

This paper analyzes the symbiotic and mutually reinforcing relationship between the anti-American movement and other social movements in democratic South Korea since 1987.

Proposing a new typology of anti-Americanism, the paper formulates and develops an argument that the anti-American movement has substantially contributed to the success and survival of South Korea’s social movements. The anti-American movement should not be classified as one of the many social movements active in South Korea; rather, it is a special movement that performs various functions integral to the rise, expansion, unity, and success of social movements in general. The collaboration of the anti-American movement and other social movements is also transforming the character of the anti-American movement itself.

The metamorphosis of the anti-American movement into diverse new social movements makes it more sophisticated, accessible, appealing, open, and flexible. Thus transformed, the anti-American movement will likely provide an important source of vitality for civic engagement and make significant contributions to South Korean democracy.

Here is the primary thesis of the piece noted in the opening paragraphs:

The main argument formulated and developed in this paper is that the anti-American movement has contributed to the success and survival of South Korea’s social movements at large in the politics of democratic consolidation and deepening since 1987. The anti-American movement is not just one of the many social movements in South Korea. Rather, it is a special movement that performs various functions helpful to the rise, expansion, unity, and success of social movements in general.

Tags: , ,
  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    6:34 pm on May 3rd, 2012 1

    “In the 1950s, there existed no discernable anti-American movements in South Korea.”

    You hear this all the time, but it makes no sense to me, and I think it does significant damage to understanding Korea’s place in the world in the 20th Century.

    It is as if they become blind to North Korea. And to the competition between communism and Western democracy that was animating social movements the world over since the Russian Revolution in the early 1900s.

    They know there were communist elements trying to foment trouble within South Korea before and after the 1945 liberation…..but they never seem to connect this to a form of anti-Americanism. Hello!!

    I give it a double !! because you see this disconnect frequently when it seems so obvious…

    I agree the groups, leaders, and thought of the pro-communist people were not consistently effective after the Korean War. I agree that the pro-US sentiment generated by the war and the US commitment to rebuild and protect South Korea was the dominate trend prior to the 1980s. But, these guys ignore the reality of the minority view that WAS a key root to the flowering of the effectiveness of anti-US thought in the 80s and 90s to the point it grossly distorts what was going on.

  • ZenKimchi
    6:51 pm on May 3rd, 2012 2

    In other words, it’s been a safe way (read: cowardly) of saying, “Fuck you,” to the elites without sounding unpatriotic.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:02 pm on May 3rd, 2012 3

    If you read pages 236-237, my contention is that Kwangju did not create anti-US sentiment out of thin air. I believe national outrage over Kwangju was coopted by a formerly weak but present anti-US infrastructure connected to pro-communist ideology that could be traced back to well within the Japanese colonial period and opposition to the Japanese.

  • MacArthur Park
    8:14 pm on May 3rd, 2012 4

    But what about the obvious outside influences by the Chinese, Russians, and North Koreans with financial support they’ve given to the Korean left for many decades?

  • Tom
    9:33 pm on May 3rd, 2012 5

    and what about the anti-Koreans who are Americans? Can anyone link to sources of psychological findings, and why they become obsessive Korea haters:?:

  • someotherguy
    11:28 pm on May 3rd, 2012 6


    The righteous pure Korean’s could not possibly be under outside influences from their divinely created brothers. It’s all the EWEM’s fault for despoiling their pristine country and infecting it with the plague that is democracy.

    Or something like that.

  • bulgasari
    12:55 am on May 4th, 2012 7

    I’d agree with zenkimchi. For example, if you look at feminism in the late 1980s and 1990s, one way that was safe to fight for women’s rights but not target Korean patriarchy was to speak out against USFK and SOFA as oppressing Korean women.

    USinKorea, James Wade’s 1967 book ‘One Man’s Korea,’ a collection of the columns he wrote mostly for the Korea Times (back when it was actually an interesting paper – something which changed in 1974), deals from time to time with criticism of Americans in Korea, and Koreans’ perceptions of them, which were not always good. There was also an anti-American novella from 1965 which was banned and the author thrown in prison (described in more detail here, which also has a link to an interesting paper). There certainly were Koreans (especially those who came into contact with Americans and chafed at their casual racism) who disliked the American presence. But more so than Kwangju, which radicalized students, it was the Olympics and perceived slights by NBC and ‘disrespectful’ athletes which, fueled by the media, caused anti-Americanism to go mainstream, and it’s no accident this happened right after the arrival of democracy and the lifting of censorship.

    Shortly after the Olympics, a ‘dust-up’ in Itaewon between US soldiers and Koreans led prosecutors to request jurisdiction to prosecute one of the soldiers, which was a first for an assault case. The reason? “The national consciousness toward American troops in Korea has changed … and it is time we begin exercising a wider scale of jurisdiction.” (S&S) Cue both opposition parties calling for changes to the SOFA, as well as depictions of US soldiers which would later carry over into another, similar group.

  • bulgasari
    1:01 am on May 4th, 2012 8

    On rereading what I wrote, I should say that, while anti Americanism before the 1980s isn’t dealt with much, the US media did focus a great deal on the anti-Americanism on display during the Olympics to try to understand it, and what was generally said was that it had existed and been kept under wraps, but perceived disrespect and the US trying to force cigarettes, beef and movies into the Korean market had helped to bring it to the surface.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:22 am on May 4th, 2012 9

    “and it’s no accident this happened right after the arrival of democracy and the lifting of censorship.”

    That is one sign to me that the infastructure for turning the tide against the US was already there and took time and effort to establish.

    Dismissing the roots of anti-US attitudes prior to 1980 doesn’t match items here and there I know about Korean history and doesn’t match what we know about communist ideology and its strategies for fomenting revolution in nations.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:53 am on May 4th, 2012 10

    Here is the start of another article about social movements since the 1980s:

    This paper is intended to assess the changes that have occurred to the nationalist minjung academic communities that formed during the 1980s with the aim of promoting “nationalist minjung studies” in conjunction with academic activities outside of the university establishment and social movements that had been seeking social revolution.”

    My views is: this doesn’t spring up all of a sudden. You don’t just suddenly get a bunch of academics doing this stuff in the 1980s without long preparation. And, aiming at the academic and intellectual communities for the promotion of subversion has long been a part of the communist gameplan.

    3:58 pm on May 4th, 2012 11

    South korea and US are not a democractized nations how they should be, they are a polycratic political systems with a election process similar to Hitler Germany.

  • setnaffa
    4:09 pm on May 4th, 2012 12

    Man! there are some strong fumes coming from a couple of posters… Little to early in the day to be that drunk, eh?

    Abti-US started when the US got the UN to forcibly stop the Stalinist Unification Movement of 6/25/1950…

    Before that, we were just an enabler of Stalin and Mao and a weak opponent that was obviously too war-weary to resist. But them we did. And it was “Game on.”

    The haters are as contemptible as the trolls; but generally more clever at influencing others.

  • Korean society
    7:46 pm on May 4th, 2012 13

    The reason you have anti-American feeling of present and future leaders of South Korean society is that America have played the same tactic of engageing North korea as the South Korean which they can not do as a out sider. Instead of putting their arms around both nations they chose to masterbate the situation by taking side of one. A simple word of can’t you guys just get alone as a federation. South Korean does not really care for anyone who minamized their relationship with their brothering. Strange but true. Only those with korean blood can really talk bad of north korea and be respected the next

  • Teadrinker
    11:39 pm on May 4th, 2012 14

    So, there’s anti-Americanism here? Get over it. Only a fool would expect every South Korean to be in love with the idea of having American soldiers here, regardless of whether the country benefits from their presence or not.

    Let’s say New York donates Central Park to South Korea so that it can build an army base there because Rhode Island has fallen under the control of a communist oligarchy. How long do you figure it would take before a loud minority of New Yorkers hate South Korea (but not necessarily South Koreans)?



  • Richard
    9:32 am on May 5th, 2012 15

    My question is this:
    Do those hundreds of thousands of anti us beef protesters, in their heart of hearts, REALLY believe that the US would INTENTIONALLY sell them tainted beef?

  • Charles Nelson
    7:33 pm on May 5th, 2012 16

    15-Some believe it (stupid), some want to believe it (want a convenient target to vent rage about their lives), and others know it’s a crock (evil).

  • Charles Nelson
    7:37 pm on May 5th, 2012 17

    13- You’re saying that South Koreans REALLY want unification? They may pay it lip service but do you think they want to pay for it? Do you honestly believe that there has been a sincere effort from the North?

  • Teadrinker
    2:25 am on May 6th, 2012 18


    Yes, the majority probably really wants it…just not at any cost. Most people, I would say, recognize that North Korea’s collapse could be potentially catastrophic for South Korean society (and I’m not just talking about the cost, but also the social unrest when the initial influx of uneducated and unskilled North Koreans realizes that not all the streets are paved with gold in Seoul).

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    7:30 am on May 6th, 2012 19

    The IMF collapse in about 1998 dramatically changed South Korean thinking on unification. Before, the vast majority really wanted unification.

    Yes, I do believe even then, they did not really mean it, because they did not really believe it would ever happen – at least not in the near future – so it was safe to say they wanted unification “now.”

    But when the South Korean currency collapsed and the economy hit a serious slump – and – people started talking about a likely North Korea collapse due to increasing knowledge of the famine it had been suffering that killed a significant porition of the population —- South Koreans saw that unification might actually happen at any moment – and they changed their minds about unification. They changed on a dime.

    Suddenly, everyone started saying unifacation — should be avoided now.


RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI

By submitting a comment here you grant this site a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution.

Bad Behavior has blocked 31710 access attempts in the last 7 days.