Better Allies Through Knowledge
December 17, 2015
“Americans don’t understand Korea.” That is often the refrain from Koreans about the United States, their closest ally for over 60 years. It’s not without some truth.
A 2015 Chicago Council on Global Affairs poll found that 83 percent of Americans believe that relations with South Korea are important, and 62 percent support South Korea exerting strong leadership in world affairs. So, in general, Americans have a positive view of Korea.
However, the depth of understanding about Korea is fairly shallow. For example, a 2010 survey by the same think tank found that 40 percent of Americans did not think of Korea as a democracy, and only 19 percent of Americans identified Korea as a Christian country.
This is what I have referred to in the past as the “soft underbelly” of the U.S.-Korea relationship.
*This article first appeared in Korean and English on December 11, 2015 in Korea JoongAng Daily, available online .