Culture Convergence (CC)

South Korean State-Building, Nationalism and Christianity : A Case Study of Cold War International Conflict, National Partition and American Hegemony for the Post-Cold War Era




The South Korean ethnic diaspora US lobby shows efficacy as an interest group in generating influence in American foreign and domestic public policy making. The persuasive portrayal of South Korea as a critical Cold War US ally reinforced US amenability to pro-South Korea lobbying. Also, the South Korean US diaspora is a comparatively recent immigrant group, thus its lingering resistance to assimilation facilitates its political mobilization to lobby the US government. One source of this influence includes the foundational legacy of proselytizing Western and particularly American religious social movement representatives in Korean religiosity and society. US protestant Christianity acquired a strong public association with emerging Korean nationalism in response to Japanese imperialism and occupation. Hostility towards Japanese colonialism followed by the threat from Soviet-sponsored, North Korean Communism meant Christianity did not readily become a cultural symbol of excessive external, US interference in South Korean society by South Korean public opinion. The post-Cold War shift in US foreign policy towards targeting so-called rogue state vestiges of the Cold War including North Korea enhanced further South Korea’s influence in Washington. Due to essential differences in the perceived historical role of American influence, extrapolation of the South Korean development model is problematic. US hegemony in South Korea indicates that perceived alliance with national self-determination constitutes the core of soft power appeal. Civilizational appeal per se in the form of religious beliefs are not critically significant in promoting American polity influence in target polities in South Korea or, comparatively, in the Middle East. The United States is a perceived opponent of pan-Arab nationalism which has trended towards populist Islamic religious symbolism with the failure of secular nationalism. The pronounced component of evangelical Christianity in American core community nationalism which the Trump campaign exploited is a reflection of this orientation in the US.




  • Benedict E. DeDominicis Prof., Dept. of International Studies, The Catholic University of Korea


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