Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea

Video and transcript from "Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea," a book launch event for the publication that carries the same name. Author and Stanford researcher David Straub presented insights from his book in conversation with Kathleen Stephens, moderated by Daniel Sneider.

Americans think of South Korea as one of the most pro-American of countries, but in fact many Koreans hold harsh and conspiratorial views of the United States. If not, why did a single U.S. military traffic accident in 2002 cause hundreds of thousands of Koreans to take to the streets for weeks, shredding and burning American flags, cursing the United States, and harassing Americans? Why, too, the death threats against American athlete Apolo Ohno and massive cyberattacks against the United States for a sports call made at the Utah Winter Olympics by an Australian referee? These are just two of the incidents detailed in David Straub’s recently published book, Anti-Americanism in Democratizing South Korea, the story of an explosion of anti-Americanism in South Korea from 1999 to 2002.

Straub, a Korean-speaking senior American diplomat in Seoul at the time, reviews the complicated history of the United States’ relationship with Korea and offers case studies of Korean anti-American incidents during the period that make clear why the outburst occurred, how close it came to undermining the United States’ alliance with Korea, and whether it could happen again.