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Expert Says US ‘Misperceives’ North

Posted May. 25, 2006 03:58,   


“Many misperceptions of North Korea prevail in the U.S. society because few Americans have the chance to face North Koreans and because the press is reliant on government-released information.”

John Feffer, who has been vigorously writing about matters regarding the Korean peninsula and the U.S. diplomatic policies from a progressive view, gained attention by making the aforementioned comment during a lecture he gave at the KORUS House of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea on May 23 (Tuesday).

Feffer is the author of “North Korea/South Korea: U.S. Politics & the Korean Peninsula” and “The Future of U.S.-Korean Relations: The Imbalance of Power (Asia`s Transformations)” and has made three trips to North Korea and 24 to South Korea. In his lecture on the American misperceptions of the Korean peninsula, he presented an analysis that one of the causes of a lack of information on North Korea is that many journalists are withdrawing from Korea due to the reduction in the press industry in the U.S.

He also said that the reason the U.S. press fails to view the Korean peninsula from a proper perspective is because it keeps the focus on the “crisis” when viewing North Korea, adding some examples in which the U.S. press gave prominent coverage on such matters as the missile shooting by North Korea, the nuclear matters, and the protests against the relocation of the U.S. army base in Pyeongtaek.

Feffer pointed out that the American press is too reliant on the government-released information, tends to judge the matters based on American standards, and sometimes even gets caught in the pitfall of intentional information leak by the government or its attempt to gauge the trend of the public opinion.

He introduced a dissertation which said that out of all the reports on Kim Jong Il, the chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea, by the Washington Post and the New York Times between 1994 and 2004, 49 percent held a negative view, 47 percent neutral, and only three percent positive.

Soon-Taek Kwon maypole@donga.com