The History between America and Korea - 76

The United States’ deep involvement with South Korea started in June 1950, when the U.S. tried to stop communism from spreading south of the 38th parallel, when North Korean forces attacked South Korea. After a three-year war, which saw devastating losses for South Korea (416,004 deaths), as well as losses for many other countries such as America (29,550) Australia (265) and U.K. (670), the American military became largely responsible for the defence of the area South of the 38th parallel which we call South Korea.

Why the anti-Americanism?

Since 1953, the large presence of American forces in Korea and the influence of the American government on Korea, has meant that Korean culture has been heavily influenced by America. As a result of this continued meddling from the U.S., many Koreans are beginning to resent the constant influence of America on Korean politics and policies. Recent decisions, such as sending Korean soldiers to Iraq (2004) and America’s influence in the decision making over dealings with North Korea, bother many Koreans and Koreans often march to show their anger.

Many other Koreans though, feel that it is necessary to have the Americans protecting the South. Many are also interested in studying and living in America. The love/hate relationship goes back many years, but in recent years one single event brought to light the under-lying feeling within Korea. On June 13, 2002 near the Demilitarised Zone in Kyunggi Province, a 54-ton armoured bridge carrier ran over two middle school girls ‘Shin Hyo-Soon and Shim Mi-Sun, killing them on the spot. What followed were many candlelight vigils and protests against the U.S.’s lack of reaction and the present law, which allows the American military to be exempt from civilian courts in Korea and other countries outside of the U.S. As a Caucasian living in Korea at the time of these events, despite being British, it was uncomfortable being in Seoul.

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