chapter  18
Anti-Americanism or "Anti-Baseism": U.S.-South Korean Relations through Changing Generations
Pages 9

To Koreans, the public square of Gwanghawmun and City Hall in Seoul is something more than just a plaza in which to while away weekend aftemoons. It holds special political significance as the focal point of the people's struggle against the military regime of the 1980s. This is where people gathered to defy the iron-fisted regime ofPresident Chun Doo Hwan; that defiance gradually led to the democratization of the country. The site took on new meaning in 2002. As many as a million Koreans gathered at the heart of their capital to cheer on their national soccer heroes in the World Cup, tens of thousands converged on the square with lighted candles to cherish the memory of two schoolgirls who were killed last summer by a D.S. military vehicle in a road accident, and tens of thousands more celebrated the election of a new president, Roh Moo Hyun. Though all three gatherings were unprecedented in South Korea in sc ale, the most troubling was the series of candlelight protests of the deaths of the two girls. It is easy to label these protests anti-American. Look and you realize that the protesters are not displaying antiAmericanism but what we might call anti-baseism, which is an anger not toward America itself but toward the D.S. military bases on the peninsula. It is an expression of the Koreans ' wounded pride and perhaps refIects an inevitable stage in South Korea-D.S. relations for the new century.