Episode 162 – Best of Frenemies, Part 8


This week, we close out this series with a look at the relationship between South Korea and Japan. Also included; Isaac’s patented speed run of South Korean history. Enjoy!


Listen to the episode here.


Cummings, Bruce. Korea’s Place in the Sun.

Tudor, Daniel. Korea: The Impossible Country.

Rozman, Gilbert. Asia’s Alliance Triangle: US-Japan-South Korea Relations At A Crossroads.


Syngman Rhee wrote a book trying to explain “the Japanese psyche” while in the US in 1941 lobbying for aid to Korea’s independence movement. It lays out his opinion of Japan pretty clearly. Spoiler: it isn’t great.
Park Jung-hee in the uniform of a Manchukuo officer. Park’s time working with the Japanese made him a natural leader in reconciling South Korea and Japan.
Park Jung-hee signs the treaty on basic relations with Japan.
A summit meeting between Abe Shinzo, Barack Obama, and South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye (daughter of Park Jung-hee). Obama’s facial expression does a lot, in my opinion, to set the tone for how well things were going.
comfort women statue japan south korea
The comfort woman statue erected in Seoul across from the Japanese embassy.
People hold placards next to a statue symbolizing "comfort women" during a weekly anti-Japan rally in front of Japanese embassy in Seoul
The weekly protests across from the Japanese embassy are the longest running regular protests in history. They have occured every week since 1992.
Perhaps Korean pop culture holds the key to Japan-Korea reconciliation? This poster is from the First Girl’s Generation tour in Japan.

2 thoughts on “Episode 162 – Best of Frenemies, Part 8”

  1. hey, love the podcast, but your Germany-France analogy kind of triggered my know-it-all reflex. I think you are way way off here.
    Political reengagement,efforts to smothen relation and build friendship, etc predates military cooperation under the Nato significantly. I dont really think its fair to give big parts of the credit to the US alliance system for good things happening post war in western europe. I feel the largest role was played by politicans, who learned the lessons of two incredibly costly world wars (or one depending on your view of history). I think the influence of two such cataclysmic events in short succession cannot be overstated. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … . Holding on and polishing that victim card rarely leads to good political outcomes and if a couple of million countrymen died in the last few decades, it does make you reconsider the merit of holding on to extreme rivalries. Thats why, at least here in Germany, rearmament was (and is) deeply unpopular and the country had to be dragged screaming and shouting into Nato.
    Anyways my2cent, keep up the good Casts

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