NY Times: U.S. Troops in South Korea Encounter Increased Hostility

January 8th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

The NY Times reports violence against US soldiers in S. Korea is getting worse.

The report has some interesting details but misses a few things because the reporter doesn’t seem to be spending much time with the Koreans he’s happy to speak for.

Is it conceivable that a S. Korean citizen might not want the US military there for reasons besides simple N. Korean propaganda? If it is, the reporter misses that possibility, and I’m happy to point out that he’s dead wrong, anyhow… I spent time with a S. Korean soldier who fervently wanted us the hell out of his country, and the Times reporter’s assertion that S. Korean youth “sincerely believe what North Korea has taught for decades: that American troops arrived here in 1950 and split the nation in two” is like nothing I ever heard from Corporal Kim or any of the other Koreans I spoke with.

Do they think the US is exacerbating problems in Korea? Yes, a lot of them do. But it’s a long haul from “general ignorance” to a belief that the presence of a US infantry division camped out in S. Korea is keeping tensions high. There’s plenty of room for debate on the issue, and I certainly don’t think N. Korea is Seoul’s “jolly neighbor to the north,” but the Times reporter is spending too much time in the post snackbar and not enough time out on the streets, where he might pick up a more nuanced understanding.

He’s also wrong about the “new” condition signs outside EUSA headquarters. They were there in 1995. The same year, incidentally, S. Koreans were pushing US troops out into traffic or attacking them in alleys; the same year we were routinely encouraged to go out in pairs and stick to the area right outside post.

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