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Anti-American or Anti-Great Power? The Unexceptionality of Anti-Americanism in Korean Politics

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Abstract:

Rising anti-American sentiments in South Korea have recently been at the center of much discussion and analysis by scholars and pundits concerned about the deterioration of bilateral relations between the formerly staunch allies. Although differing in their diagnoses, most analyses agree that the current round of anti-Americanism in Korean politics is relatively new and unprecedented, shaped by a confluence of domestic and external factors. The election of President Roh Moo-hyun and his progressive cabinet has directly challenged all corners of Korean politics and society as well as conservative elites. The result has been the unleashing of fierce domestic debates on the future of Korean security, asking Koreans to choose either “alliance or self-reliance.” This shift in Korean attitudes toward the U.S. is also seen as part of a new wave of anti-Americanism throughout the world, a global backlash against the hegemonic influence of the U.S. as the lone superpower with the end of the Cold War.
Either attributed to a case of Korean exceptionalism or U.S. exceptionalism, the current trend of anti-Americanism in Korea is treated as a unique moment in history. In this paper, I argue instead that Korea’s brand of anti-Americanism is actually a manifestation of anti-Great Power-ism, which is not new in the history of Korean politics. In fact, President Roh’s election platform of finding autonomy and self-reliance demonstrates close parallels with the anti-Qing mobilization in turn-of-the-century Korea. Anti-Great Power-ism (anti-sadae) emerged as a potent tool of political mobilization in the late 19th century, when the newly created Reform/Enlightenment Party made their criticism of the existing policy of “revering Great Powers” (sadae) the centerpiece of their attack against the conservative establishment. Even though sadae was originally a pragmatic policy of accommodating the powerful Qing, marking a departure from a cultural-ideological emulation of Ming China, it was stigmatized during 19th century politics as subservient and Great Power-dependent. What we see then is the emergence and recurrence of anti-Great Power-ism as a powerful tool for political challengers in their mobilization against the established regime in Korea. By comparing the progressives’ political mobilization processes in the late 19th century and in 2002-2006, I show that today’s anti-Americanism is actually a continuation of anti-China-ism seen from a broader historical perspective.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

anti (176), korean (163), korea (131), american (128), anti-american (101), u.s (85), sada (63), power (61), polit (58), nation (48), sentiment (47), south (42), state (40), polici (39), china (39), great (38), unit (34), kim (33), new (33), relat (31), foreign (28),

Author's Keywords:

anti-Americanism, Korea, nationalism, Great Power politics
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Park, Seo-Hyun. "Anti-American or Anti-Great Power? The Unexceptionality of Anti-Americanism in Korean Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL, Aug 30, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p209093_index.html>

APA Citation:

Park, S. , 2007-08-30 "Anti-American or Anti-Great Power? The Unexceptionality of Anti-Americanism in Korean Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p209093_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Rising anti-American sentiments in South Korea have recently been at the center of much discussion and analysis by scholars and pundits concerned about the deterioration of bilateral relations between the formerly staunch allies. Although differing in their diagnoses, most analyses agree that the current round of anti-Americanism in Korean politics is relatively new and unprecedented, shaped by a confluence of domestic and external factors. The election of President Roh Moo-hyun and his progressive cabinet has directly challenged all corners of Korean politics and society as well as conservative elites. The result has been the unleashing of fierce domestic debates on the future of Korean security, asking Koreans to choose either “alliance or self-reliance.” This shift in Korean attitudes toward the U.S. is also seen as part of a new wave of anti-Americanism throughout the world, a global backlash against the hegemonic influence of the U.S. as the lone superpower with the end of the Cold War.
Either attributed to a case of Korean exceptionalism or U.S. exceptionalism, the current trend of anti-Americanism in Korea is treated as a unique moment in history. In this paper, I argue instead that Korea’s brand of anti-Americanism is actually a manifestation of anti-Great Power-ism, which is not new in the history of Korean politics. In fact, President Roh’s election platform of finding autonomy and self-reliance demonstrates close parallels with the anti-Qing mobilization in turn-of-the-century Korea. Anti-Great Power-ism (anti-sadae) emerged as a potent tool of political mobilization in the late 19th century, when the newly created Reform/Enlightenment Party made their criticism of the existing policy of “revering Great Powers” (sadae) the centerpiece of their attack against the conservative establishment. Even though sadae was originally a pragmatic policy of accommodating the powerful Qing, marking a departure from a cultural-ideological emulation of Ming China, it was stigmatized during 19th century politics as subservient and Great Power-dependent. What we see then is the emergence and recurrence of anti-Great Power-ism as a powerful tool for political challengers in their mobilization against the established regime in Korea. By comparing the progressives’ political mobilization processes in the late 19th century and in 2002-2006, I show that today’s anti-Americanism is actually a continuation of anti-China-ism seen from a broader historical perspective.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 27
Word count: 8669
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Anti-American or Anti-Great Power? The Unexceptionality of Anti-Americanism in Korean Politics Seo-Hyun Park Cornell University Email: sp279@cornell.edu Prepared for delivery at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association August 30th-September 2nd 2007 Chicago IL. Anti-American or Anti-Great Power? The Unexceptionality of Anti-Americanism in Korean Politics The rise of anti-American sentiments in South Korea has recently been at the center of much discussion and analysis by scholars and pundits concerned about the deterioration of bilateral relations between
century it is now used almost solely in reference to the United States. For instance it is generally understood that accusations of sadae-oriented foreign policy refer to U.S.-Korean relations and have less to do with China Japan or any other foreign power. In fact despite the legacy of anti-China anti-sadae mobilization at a critical juncture in Korean history in present-day Korea anti- China sentiments have faded away and rarely been politicized. What this shows is that anti- sadae sentiments


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