Date of Award

12-2003

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Public Affairs/International Relations

First Advisor

Robert Weiner

Second Advisor

Primo Vannicelli

Third Advisor

Edmund Beard

Abstract

This thesis examines contemporary relations between the United States and Korea from a South Korean perspective. Various opinions in South Korea have been captured largely through primary research (surveys and interviews) conducted in Seoul in March 2003. Findings indicate that a clear generational gap exists in South Korea which currently shapes and influences not only South Korea's United States policy, but also North Korean and domestic policy as well. An analysis of history explains how this generational gap evolved as the older generation lived through crucial times such as the Korean War, which the younger generation did not experience, and does not know much about. Korean history in regards to its relations with foreign countries, specifically the US, exemplifies issues and points of contention from the older generations' perspective which temper that generation's feelings/attitudes toward foreign countries, especially the United States, today.

Current trends in South Korea are described, such as the current wave of Anti-Americanism amongst the younger generation and their use of the internet to affect the 2002 Presidential Election, and their quest for autonomy. Trends in the older generation indicate no major changes in interests or beliefs, as they attempt to hush the younger generation by holding massive rallies, and influence President Rob to be more pro-US. Surveys and interviews collected provide a thorough understanding of the current divisive political climate in South Korea and how relations with the United States are currently viewed by both the younger and the older generation.

It is concluded that a greater understanding of Korea and the rapid changes it is currently undergoing is necessary to nurture and maintain the South Korean-US alliance in the future. Changes are recommended (assuming the goal is to create a more amicable alliance with both Koreas) which take into consideration the current environment in South Korea and the best way to respond to it. Of primary importance is understanding the changes in Korea and factors which are causing those changes amongst the younger generation in South Korea especially those who make up the anti-US camp at present, and whose opinions will become ever more important in the future.

Comments

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