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Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea

By David Straub
Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea

Although most South Koreans profess to holdfavorable views of the United States, the phenomenon of anti-Americanism in this “pro-American” country is wellknown. David Straub, who served as the head of the political section at the U.S. embassy in Seoul for three years, analyzes the arc of increasing anti-American sentiment from 1999 that climaxed in 2002 in massive demonstrations over the accidental killing of two schoolgirls by a vehicle driven by American soldiers. Straub argues—using case studies of major incidents during the period—that anti-Americanism was not simply a reaction to U.S. actions, but was powerfully embedded in a longstanding Korean national narrative of victimization at the hands of great powers, magnified by the election of a left-national government and media dynamics in the Internet age.


1. Introduction: South Korea’s Anti-American Eruption

2. The Catalyst: Revisiting the Nogun-ri Massacre

3. Poisoning the Relationship: Agent Orange and Formaldehyde

4. Fairness and Equality: Maehyang-ri and SOFA Revision

5. Bushwhacked: North Korea Policy

6. Not Sporting: The Short-Track Racing Incident

7. Climax: The Highway 56 Tragedy

8. Conclusion: Lessons for Americans and Koreans

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