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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

A Historical Overview of Korean Perceptions of the United States: Five Major Stereotypes

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2004, v.44 no.1, pp.109-151

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Abstract

This article examines five major stereotypes concerning America held by Koreans from the earliest contacts about 150 years ago until the present day. The author examined each stereotype chronologically . The first stereotype held during the late Joseon period was a result of the prevailing Sinocentric worldview in the region. According to this view, Americans were uncultured barbarians. As knowledge of the West increased among Joseon intellectuals, however, a second stereotype arose; namely, that America was the wealthiest nation in the world with vast territory and no territorial ambitions. This view was given impetus by Huang Zunxian’s Zhaoxian celyue (A Strategy for Korea), which recommended that Joseon make an alliance with America. With the emergence of the United States as a major regional power in the wake of the Spanish-American War (1898), a third stereotype of America as an imperialist aggressor emerged. This view was particularly strong among Korean communists during the Japanese colonial period and became more firmly entrenched after 1945. A fourth stereotype also emerged during Japanese rule, which viewed America as a white nation pitted against the yellow nations of East Asia. This racialist view is particularly apparent in the writings of Yun Chi-ho and arose from his experience of racial discrimination in America as well as from the influence of Japanese propaganda. A fifth stereotype has emerged in recent times and views America as a nation in terminal decline. This view has its origins in the work of Oswald Spengler and the School of Decline. In his conclusion, the author argues that despite the existence of negative stereotypes, the positive stereotype of America as a benevolent nation has prevailed in the Republic of Korea. In conclusion, the author argues that Korean-American relations must be based not on stereotypes but on mutual understanding based on rational and objective research

keywords
Joseon-American relations Korean-American relations the Enlightenment Party Yun Chi-ho Huang Zunxian Korean communism anti-Americanism Donghak Western Learning Japanese colonialism School of Decline Joseon-American relations Korean-American relations the Enlightenment Party Yun Chi-ho Huang Zunxian Korean communism anti-Americanism Donghak Western Learning Japanese colonialism School of Decline

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