chapter  9
Between Banmi (Anti-Americanism) and Sungmi (Worship of the United States): Dynamics of Changing U.S. Images in South Korea
Pages 14

The concept of the "tipping point", popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, is drawn from epidemiology. This chapter examines the major actors in the Korean political drama. Anti-Americanism has entered the mainstream in South Korean society and its genesis was the Kwangju uprising. The Kwangju uprising began as another in a seemingly endless series of student demonstrations, in and of itself an unremarkable event given the raucous nature of Korean politics and student activism. The political opposition, never completely suppressed and apparently sensing Park Chung Hee's vulnerability, increased its pressure on the regime in 1979. Chun Doo Hwan's military career was influenced by Park. Major General Chun, the consolidation of political power by the Chun clique following the Kwangju uprising, and the assignment of blame for the violence to the United States. In the eyes of many Koreans today, the United States was the "wire puller" behind Kwangju and therefore bears ultimate responsibility.