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Twenty Years 1970-1990 Changing Levels of American Influence on South Korea Amidst Fluctuating Relations President Carter stated in a secret memorandum at the beginning of his administration that US- Korean relations as determined by Congress and American people are at an all time low This statement coupled with his iron determination to withdraw forces from South Korea reflected the end of what is often known as the Golden Age of Korean-American relations During Park Chung Hees 18-year authoritarian reign over South Korea the late 1970s portray a complex web of alliance relations and tumultuous security commitment that threatened the overall strength of the two allies Constant US intervention and attempts to influence Koreas political process were met with massive resistance and did not deter then president Park from steadfastly continuing his Yushin system of authoritarian rule until his sudden assassination in 1979 Gleysteen 4 However the decades following the 1970s portray yet another shift in Korean-American relations Once opposed to Western style democracy the government of the 1990s namely Kim Dae Jung has shed its authoritarian foundation and now supports a policy that reflects the ideals of Western democracy South Korea has effectively put into place a system of democracy that will now be difficult to overturn if anyone should ever again try Although unsuccessful in the 1970s the US has finally realized its primary goal of political liberalization in South Korea In this paper I will discuss the relations between Korea and the US in the late 1970s and the factors that led to tensions in alliance mainly differing political ideologies Then I will elaborate on the great strides Korea has made in achieving democracy therefore lessening the political gap between Korea and the Western nations I will do so by presenting Kim Dae Jungs strongly democratic vision of Korea among opposing viewpoints By analyzing his response to Lew Kwan Yews generally anti-Western democracy stance one is able to discern the similarities in
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