The South Korean Military: Influencing Perceptions on North Korea and the US Military

Olivia Schieber

Edited by: Hyun Joo "Harriet" Cho

ABSTRACT


The South Korean military is the nation's most ubiquitous institution, but it remains an underrepresented topic in political science literature. Given that nearly every South Korean male from the ages of 18-30 must serve approximately 2 years in the military, this institution has influenced virtually every part of the nation's socio-political landscape. Through a series of interviews conducted over a period of a little over a year, I seek to determine the ways in which the Korean military affects the views of post-conscripts on the threat of North Korea and the permanent US military presence in South Korea. Herein I show that post-conscripts are more likely than non-soldiers not only to view North Korea as a greater military threat, but also to indicate a more serious interest in national politics after their service. Furthermore, I reveal that post-conscripts are more likely to hold favorable views toward the US military's active involvement in South Korea, despite the anti-American undertones that have plagued Korea since the 1980s. The findings of this study could fuel further research on how South Korea's military influences the composition of the nation's political landscape.

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