Lecture Video: Anti-Americanism in Contemporary South Korea

Most South Koreans regard their country as "pro-American," but a strong wave of anti-American sentiment threatened to upend U.S.-Korean relations in the not-so-distant past. From 1999 to 2002, the Korean media engaged in a sustained campaign of harsh criticism against the United States, especially U.S. Forces Korea. There were numerous incidents in which Koreans harassed and even physically attacked innocent Americans, and by late 2002 hundreds of thousands of South Koreans had taken to the streets to protest against the United States.

The mainstream South Korean narrative about that time is that the United States and its
representatives had long acted in ways that were arrogant, insensitive, and disrespectful of the
Korean people, their culture, and their sovereignty. South Koreans believe that their protests were not only righteous and but also effective in forcing the United States to treat them as equals.

The lecturer, at the time a senior official in the American embassy in Seoul charged with responding to the situation, has provided an American perspective on the phenomenon in his book Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea, published by Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center in 2015, and in Korean translation earlier this year by Sancheoreom under the title 반미주의로 보는 한국 현대사.

Based on his book, the lecturer will offer a provocative retrospective and analysis challenging the conventional Korean narrative, including his views of why the protests occurred, the effects they had, and whether a similar situation could occur again. Copies of both the English- and Korean-language versions of the book will be available for purchase at the event.

David Straub is currently the inaugural Sejong-LS Fellow at The Sejong Institute, an independent and nonpartisan Korean private policy think tank. Straub was a career American diplomat from 1976 to 2006, including eight years at the American embassy in Seoul and service as the head of the office of Korean affairs at State Department headquarters in Washington, DC. From 2008 to 2016, he was affiliated with Stanford University's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center.

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