The Cultural Cold War in Korea, 1945-1950

Armstrong, Charles K.

By definition, the cold war was understood on both sides of the conflict to be a global struggle that stopped short of direct military engagement between the superpowers (the U.S. and the USSR). In Europe, the putative center of that struggle, the geopolitical battle lines were fixed after the early 1950s, or they at least could not be altered by normal military means without provoking World War III-which would result in mutual annihilation. Therefore, each side hoped to make gains over the other by using more subtle, political, and often clandestine methods, winning the "hearts and minds" of people in the other bloc (as well as maintaining potentially wayward support in one's own bloc), hoping to subvert the other side from within. The cold war was an enormous campaign of propaganda and psychological warfare on both sides. A vast range of cultural resources, from propaganda posters and radio broadcasts to sophisticated literary magazines, jazz bands, ballet troupes, and symphony orchestras, were weapons in what has recently come to be called the "Cultural Cold War" (Saunders 1999). Studies of the cultural cold war have proliferated since the late 1990s, most of which focus on U.S. cultural policy and are concerned with the European"theater"of this conflict (Hixson 1997; Fehrenbach and Poiger 2000; Poiger 2000; Berghahn 2001). East Asia, where the cold war was "hotter" than any other place on the planet from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s and where vestiges of the cold war still linger (most notably on the Korean peninsula), has been almost entirely neglected in the emerging literature on the cultural cold war, with the exception of a few works on the U.S. occupation of Japan (Fehrenbach and Poiger 2000, 45-80, 166-86, 224-36; Dower 1999; Sandler 1997) and studies of intelligence and "special operations" (Aldrich, Rawnsley, and Rawnsley 2000).

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The Journal of Asian Studies

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January 14, 2014