Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies Honolulu United States
Many Americans have been surprised and angered at what appears to be a recent flare-up of anti-Americanism in the Republic of Korea over a tragic traffic accident that took the lives of two middle school girls. The Unites States decision makers have already initiated a partial pullback from the DMZ near Seoul and are openly contemplating a complete withdrawal from the Korean peninsula. Those who are concerned about this apparent deterioration in the U.S.-ROK alliance have been quick to point out that anti-Americanism is not new to the ROK. Radical South Korean students, for example, burned the Stars and Stripes with such shocking frequency in the 1980s and 1990s that at the time, North Koreans jokingly suggested that Americans should feel safer in Pyongyang than in Seoul. Clearly, the relationship between America and Korea has been marked by mood swings ever since it was consummated by the Schufeld Treaty almost a century and a half ago. But even to sanguine students of Korea Stephen W. Linton this new outburst of anti-Americanism looks different. More than ever before, the shrill tones of anti-Americanism in the street are echoing through the corridors of power in East Asias most vibrant and volatile new democracy.