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

The Changing Perception of America in South Korea: Transition or Transformation?

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2004, v.44 no.1, pp.152-177

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Abstract

The general South Korean predilection for the United States, which hasbeen mistakenly called chinmi (pro-Americanism), is nothing but ablind sense of amity to America imposed by the harsh requirements ofthe Cold War and nurtured by the undemocratic and militantly anti-communist political regimes of South Korea. Banmi (anti-American-ism), emerged as a corollary of two synchronous processes since the1980s, i.e., the political democratization of South Korea and the break-down of the Cold War system. Since America had been persistentlymythologized and assimilated in post-Korean War South Korea, thetracks of the perceptional transformation include disillusionment withthe discrepancy between U.S. foreign policies and its professed ideology,trade issues, awakened consciousness of South Korean national self-respect, and changes in the Korean perception of the world. The rise ofanti-American sentiment should therefore not be construed as a tokenof the radical shift in Korean attitudes toward America but as a reflec-tion of the normalization of the way Koreans view America and theworld. Discussions on the future of anti-Americanism in South Koreashould take into account the history and the nature of South Koreanpeoples love and hate of America.

keywords
anti-Americanism pro-Americanism democratization ofSouth Korea Korean nationalismGweon Yong-lib (Kwon Yong-rip) is Professor of Political Science at Kyungsung Uni-versity. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Seoul National University anti-Americanism pro-Americanism democratization ofSouth Korea Korean nationalismGweon Yong-lib (Kwon Yong-rip) is Professor of Political Science at Kyungsung Uni-versity. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Seoul National University

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