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American Orientalism in Korea

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People express and exercise power as much through words as through actions. Yet scholars never have examined systematically how officials and others in the United States actually talked and wrote about Korea, both north and south, during the momentous interwar period. This article unearths crude depictions of the Korean people common in American writings from the 1940s and 1950s, arguing that this rhetoric created and reinforced an unequal power relationship between the United States and Korea. These negative discourses about Koreans, as expressions of American Orientalism, had important implications for u.s.policy in Korea and for the post-war trajectory of developments on the entire Korean peninsula. They also have left a perceptible imprint on English-language scholarship engaging in assessments of Korea ever since.

Affiliations: 1: The George Washington University and the Wilson Center,


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