First Drafts of Korea: The U.S. Media and Perceptions of the Last Cold War Frontier

First Drafts of Korea: The U.S. Media and Perceptions of the Last Cold War Frontier

Few regions rival the Korean Peninsula in strategic importance to U.S. foreign policy. For half a century, America has stationed tens of thousands of troops in South Korea to defend its ally from the threat of North Korean aggression. South Korea, in turn, is critical to the defense of Japan, another ally and the linchpin of American interests in East Asia. The rise of a nuclear-armed North has upped the ante.

Yet despite the stakes, the two Koreas have registered only episodically on the radar of the United States. The troubling gap between American perceptions of the peninsula and its strategic importance remained an unexplored phenomenon until now. First Drafts of Korea breaks new ground in examining how the American mass media shape U.S. perceptions of both Koreas and, as a result, influence U.S. foreign policy.

Beginning with a detailed analysis of American newspaper coverage of Korea between 1992 and 2003, the book features essays by Western journalists and senior U.S. officials with firsthand experience on the peninsula over the past two decades. These include frank accounts of the unique frustrations of covering Kim Jong-il's North Korea, undoubtedly the most closed and media-unfriendly nation on earth.

Addressing topics ranging from the democratization of South Korea in the 1980s to today's deteriorating nuclear crisis, the book's distinguished contributors offer unique insights into American media coverage of the peninsula and its impact on policymaking in Washington. What emerges is a complex, shifting portrait of two rival nations sharing one peninsula whose future remains inextricably linked to the global security interests of the United States.

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