[KS] anti-Americanism in ROK
rbaker at stratfor.com
Tue Jan 28 16:54:14 EST 2003
I have had similar experiences in Korea, sitting in the middle of 15,000
students at a Kwangju memorial service or visiting and photographing other
demonstrations with a decidedly anti-U.S. atmosphere. For the most part, the
people involved explained that they didn't dislike Americans, just American
policy -- or the perceived idea of America as a nation that chooses not to
consider the opinions or interests of others in all that it does (though
what country DOESN'T consider its own self-interest first? It is the massive
size and reach of the U.S. that makes it a particular target). This was
similar to the impressions I got while there during the early years of the
Kim Dae Jung government, when Korea was opening up to Japanese culture. The
students at the time said they hated Japan -- or at least the concept of the
Japanese government -- but loved Japanese people and pop-culture.
Ironically, they often communicated with their Japanese counterparts in
English, as that was a common tongue.
As for the original question on the safety of an academic trip to South
Korea at this time, the protests represent little danger to the average
visitor. Obviously certain safety precautions are necessary to avoid a run
in with an individual Korean with a grudge; like don't go out late at night
alone on back streets, but that is the case at all times in most countries.
The demonstrators ARE taking special notice of U.S. soldiers, however, but
even there they are rarely resorting to violence, though there have been
reported cases of verbal harassment and the USFK has maintained tighter
security procedures for its personnel. Average tourists, too, have reported
some less-than-friendly verbal or visual communication, but for the most
part, this is isolated and does not lead to physical violence. In fact, many
Koreans are anxious to explain their concerns of the American policy with
Americans themselves. Overall, the biggest threats to U.S. citizens in South
Korea remain the same issues that plague any developed nation -- bad
traffic, localized petty crime and one of the world's largest armies sitting
just a few kilometers north of Seoul (though despite the current "crisis"
that is no more of a threat than it was a year ago).
Director of Special Operations
Predictive, Insightful Global Intelligence
rbaker at stratfor.com
Strategic Forecasting, LLC
From: Koreanstudies-admin at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:Koreanstudies-admin at koreaweb.ws]On Behalf Of Max Christian
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 3:08 PM
To: Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
Subject: Re: [KS] anti-Americanism in ROK
At 12:00 28/01/2003 -0500, David McCann wrote:
>urged that a distinction be drawn between
>"anti-American" (ban-mi) and critical of American policies (bi-mi).
I recently attended one of the so-called "anti-US" demonstrations in
Seoul, and although I'm English, my caucasian appearance is such that
Koreans often assume I'm American unless they're told otherwise. I
felt reasonably welcome and I think this backs up David's point that
the public mood is anti US policy, not anti-American. (If anything,
Koreans tend to be pro-American in many non-political aspects.)
I would not recommend trying to make a defence of US policy, as that
could lead to trouble, but I'm certain that an academic group would
have no problems at all as a result of the current atmosphere there.
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