The United States missed several opportunities to prevent the establishment of South Korea's current military regime and has failed to exert its influence to try and curb the regime's repressive policies, an expert on Korean affairs told an audience of 150 last night.
Edward Baker, a research associate in East Asian Legal Studies at the Law School who has been involved in South Korean politics, said the U.S. could have made a difference in both the military backlash which followed last spring's student uprisings at Kwangehu and the arrest and sentencing of opposition leader Kim Dae Jung.
Baker said that South Korean leader Chun Doo Hwan "is obviously very sensitive to what the United States thinks. If the United States says to the Korean people, as well as to Chun, that we do not support what he is doing, that alone could bring him down."
Baker criticized the current U.S. policy of tacit approval toward the Chun government. Should there be a popular uprising in South Korea, he warned, "all good will towards Americans, which has badly eroded since (former President) Park (Chun Hee's) death, will be gone."