In This Review

Korean Attitudes Toward the United States: Changing Dynamics
Korean Attitudes Toward the United States: Changing Dynamics
By David I. Steinberg
M.E. Sharpe, 2004, 400 pp

This volume, the product of a conference organized by Georgetown University, examines rising anti-Americanism in South Korea from multiple perspectives. There are Marxists whose views about advanced capitalism and imperialism have stimulated paranoid perceptions of U.S. involvement in every aspect of Korean life. On the right, there are traditionalists who believe that American culture is destroying ancient Korean values. And then there are opportunists who are quick to jump on any incident involving U.S. soldiers or problems related to U.S. military installments. The authors make clear that there is no simple explanation for rising anti-Americanism. Although many observers are quick to blame Washington's policies, the more important factors may be existential: the United States is too rich, too powerful, too idealistically virtuous, too knowledgeable and sophisticated--all prompting a need among Koreans to strike back. In any case, the intensity of anti-Americanism has receded somewhat thanks to the failure of South Korea's "sunshine policy" to transform relations with the North -- reminding South Koreans that a U.S. role is still crucial.