The Asan Forum

Eleven years ago, observers of South Korea were stunned as they witnessed two critical events unfold in central Seoul. The first was one of reverie as the plaza of City Hall literally became a sea of red. People wearing red devil t-shirts, the mascot of the Korean national soccer team, gathered to root for the Korean national soccer team in the 2002 World Cup, co-hosted by South Korea and Japan. The second was one of protest. In the same plaza, a huge mass again assembled in the winter to hold a candlelight vigil mourning the deaths of two junior high school girls killed by a US armored vehicle. The series of candlelight vigils generated public uproar against the perceived unfairness of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and sparked a wave of anti-Americanism. The incident created serious concerns about the ROK–US alliance and among the political elite of both countries. There was no shortage of scholarship depicting these two incidents as epitomizing the ethnic nationalism of Korea. They became prominent examples in a growing literature on Korean national identity.

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About Experts

Kim Jiyoon
Kim Jiyoon

Research Division

Dr. KIM Jiyoon is a senior fellow in the Public Opinion Studies Program at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. Previously, Dr. Kim was a postdoctoral research fellow at Université de Montréal. Her research interests include elections and voting behavior, American politics, and political methodology. Her recent publications include “Political judgment, perceptions of facts, and partisan effects” (Electoral Studies, 2010), “Public spending, public deficits, and government coalition” (Political Studies, 2010), and “The Party System in Korea and Identity Politics” (in Larry Diamond and Shin Giwook Eds., New Challenges for Maturing Democracies in Korea and Taiwan, Stanford University Press, 2014). She received her B.A. from Yonsei University, M.P.P. in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, and Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.