GIs and Koreans: The Making of the First ROK-US Status of Forces Agreement 1945-1966
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work230 Pages
Citation of Original PublicationYi, B. (2008). GIs and Koreans: The First US-ROK Status of Forces Agreement (Master’s thesis).
SubjectsStatus of Forces Agreement
Park Chung Hee
Lyndon B. Johnson
US Forces Korea (USFK)
The Korean War shifted the fundamental dynamics of US-Korean relations. American troops and money poured into the Korean peninsula and manifested America’s commitment to the fragile Republic of Korea (ROK). The geopolitical implications and strategic roles that the US Armed Forces in Korea (USFK) played were clearly articulated from the beginning of deployment—to deter possible North Korean aggression and to secure American allies in East Asia. USFK’s impact on the political and social lives of Koreans was, in contrast, not seriously studied. The first ten years of the permanent stationing of an average of 55,000 young American soldiers in Korea, however, made an indelible impact on the relationship between the two peoples. This dissertation examines the layered interactions between Koreans and Americans from 1945 through 1966, when Seoul and Washington signed the first Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). By focusing on how individual groups used and abused the unpleasant incidents between Koreans and GIs in order to advance their political ambition, this dissertation argues that the presence of a large number of American soldiers and the ensuing events played a pivotal in the shaping Korean domestic political changes and US-Korean relations. This study, thus, hopes to expand the definition of political actors in understanding bilateral relations. Not only Seoul and Washington, but also Korean employees of the USFK, Korean prostitutes, antigovernment activists, the press, and GIs played critical roles in shaping US-Korean relations during the first decade after the Korean armistice.