Skip to main content


  • Woo Chang Kang and Ji Yeon Hong

In this paper, we examine the extent to which wartime violence against civilians during the Korean War affects people's current attitudes toward South Korea and other involved countries. Using a difference-in-differences (DID) approach that compares the cohorts born before and after the war, we find that direct exposure to wartime violence induces negative perceptions regarding perpetrator countries. As many of the civilian massacres were committed by the South Korean armed forces, prewar cohorts living in violence-ridden areas during the war demonstrate significantly less pride in South Korea today. In contrast, postwar cohorts from those violent areas, who were exposed to intensive anti-communist campaigns and were incentivized to differentiate themselves from the victims, show significantly greater pride in South Korea, and greater hospitality toward the United States than toward North Korea, compared to prewar cohorts in the same areas and to the same cohorts born in non-violent areas.

Hide All
Adelman, Anne. 1995. “Traumatic Memory and the Intergenerational Transmission of Holocaust Narratives.” The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child 50 (1): 347–67.
Almond, Gabriel A. 1960. The American People and Foreign Policy. New York: Praeger.
Amir, Marianne, and Lev-Wiesel, Rachel. 2003. “Time Does Not Heal All Wounds: Quality of Life and Psychological Distress of People Who Survived the Holocaust as Children 55 Years Later.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 16 (3): 295–9.
Angrist, Joshua David, and Pischke, Jörn-Steffen. 2009. Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Arian, Asher, Shamir, Michal, and Ventura, Raphael. 1997. “Public Opinion and Political Change: Israel and the Intifada.” Comparative Politics 24 (3): 317–34.
Bali, Valentina A. 2007. “Terror and elections: Lessons from Spain.” Electoral Studies 26 (3): 669–87.
Barel, Efrat, Van IJzendoorn, Marinus H., Sagi-Schwartz, Abraham, and Bakermans-Kranenburg, Marian J.. 2010. “Surviving the Holocaust: A Meta-Analysis of the Long-Term Sequelae of a Genocide.” Psychological Bulletin 136 (5): 677–98.
Berrebi, Claude, and Klor, Esteban F.. 2008. “Are Voters Sensitive to Terrorism? Direct Evidence from the Israeli Electorate.” American Political Science Review 102 (3): 279301.
Bertrand, Marianne, Duflo, Esther, and Mullainathan, Sendhil. 2004. “How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 119 (1): 249–75.
Bramsen, Inge, and van der Ploeg, HM. 1999. “Fifty Years Later: The Long-Term Psychological Adjustment of Ageing World War II Survivors.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 100 (5): 350–58.
Cardozo, Barbara Lopes, Vergara, Alfredo, Agani, Ferid, and Gotway, Carol A.. 2000. “Mental Health, Social Functioning, and Attitudes of Kosovar Albanians Following the War in Kosovo.” Journal of the American Medical Association 284 (5): 569–77.
Cardozo, Barbara Lopes, Kaiser, Reinhard, Gotway, Carol A., and Agani, Ferid. 2003. “Mental Health, Social Functioning, and Feelings of Hatred and Revenge of Kosovar Albanians One Year after the War in Kosovo.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 16 (4): 351–60.
Cohen, Bernard C. 1995. Democracies and Foreign Policy: Public Participation in the United States and the Netherlands. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Cumings, Bruce. 1981. The Origins of the Korean War. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cumings, Bruce. 2010. The Korean War: A History. New York: Random House LLC.
Dekel, Rachel, and Goldblatt, Hadass. 2008. “Is There Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma? The Case of Combat Veterans’ Children.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 78 (3): 281–9.
Do, Khiem, and Kim, Sung-soo. 2008. “Crimes, Concealment and South Korea's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 6 (8): 19.
Eichenberg, Richard. 1989. Public Opinion and National Security in Western Europe. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Everts, Philip. 1995. “NATO, the European Community, and the United Nations.” In Public Opinion and Internationalized Governance , ed. Niedermayer, Oskar and Sinnott, Richard, 402–29. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Garbarino, James, Kostelny, Kathleen, and Dubrow, Nancy. 1991. “What Children can Tell us about Living in Danger.” American Psychologist 46 (4): 376–83.
Getmansky, Anna, and Zeitzoff, Thomas. 2014. “Terrorism and Voting: The Effect of Exposure to Rockets on Voting in Israeli Elections.” American Political Science Review 108 (3): 588604.
Gould, Eric D., and Klor, Esteban F.. 2010. “Does Terrorism Work?Quarterly Journal of Economics 125 (4): 14591510.
Graber, Doris A. 1997. Mass Media and American Politics. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly Press.
Hanley, Charles J., Mendoza, Martha, and Choe, Sang-Hun. 2001. The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare from the Korean War. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Harff, Barbara. 2003. “No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust? Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder Since 1955.” American Political Science Review 97 (1): 5773.
Harkness, Laurie Leydic. 1993. “Transgenerational Transmission of War-Related Trauma.” In International Handbook of Traumatic Stress Syndromes, ed. by Wilson, John P. and Raphael, Beverley, 635–43. New York: Springer.
Henderson, Gregory. 1968. Korea, the Politics of the Vortex. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Holsti, Ole R. 1992. “Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: Challenges to the Almond-Lippmann Consensus.” International Studies Quarterly 36 (4): 439–66.
Hong, Ji Yeon, and Kang, Woo Chang. 2017. “Trauma and Stigma: The Long-term Effects of Wartime Violence on Political Attitudes.” Conflict Management and Peace Science 34 (3): 265286.
Hong, Ji Yeon, Kang, Woo Chang, and Pasquale, Benjamin. 2014. “A Social Legacy of Violence: Short and Long-term Evidence from South Korea.” Working Paper.
Isernia, Pierangelo, Juhász, Zoltán, and Rattinger, Hans. 2002. “Foreign Policy and the Rational Public in Comparative Perspective.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 46 (2): 201–24.
Jacobs, Lawrence. 1992. “The Recoil Effect: Public Opinion and Policymaking in the U.S. and Britain.” Comparative Politics 24 (2): 199217.
Jaeger, David A., Klor, Esteban F., Miaari, Sami H., and Daniele Paserman, M.. 2012. “Struggle for Palestinian Hearts and Minds: Violence and Public Opinion in the Second Intifada.” Journal of Public Economics 96 (3): 5468.
Karenian, Hatsantour, Livaditis, Miltos, Karenian, Sirpouhi, Zafiriadis, Kyriakos, Bochtsou, Valentini, and Xenitidis, Kiriakos. 2011. “Collective Trauma Transmission and Traumatic Reactions Among Descendants of Armenian Refugees.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry 57 (4): 327–37.
Kibris, Arzu. 2011. “Funerals and Elections: The Effects of Terrorism on Voting Behavior in Turkey.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 55 (2): 220247.
Kim, Dong-Choon. 2006. The War and the Society. Seoul: Dolbegae [In Korean].
Kim, Dong-Choon. 2010. “The Memory of Massive Massacres in the Korean War and the Truth Investigation in South Korea.” In The Eleven Perspectives on the Korean War, ed. by Institute for Korean Historical Studies and Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung. Seoul: Yuksabipyeongsa [In Korean].
Kim, Gijin. 2005. The Korean War and Massacres. Seoul: Pureunyeoksa [In Korean].
Kim, Seung-Hwan. 2002. “Anti-Americanism in Korea.” Washington Quarterly 26 (1): 109–22.
Kim, Yong-il and Lee, Jungmin. 2013. “The Long-Run Impact of Traumatic Experience on Risk Aversion.” Working Paper.
Korean Oral History Association. 2011. The Korean War Viewed through Oral History. Seoul: Humanitas [In Korean].
Kuwert, Philipp, Spitzer, Carsten, Träder, Anna, Freyberger, Harald J., and Ermann, Michael. 2007. “Sixty Years Later: Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms and Current Psychopathology in Former German Children of World War II.” International Psychogeriatrics 19 (5): 955–61.
Lee, Imha. 2010. War Widows Break the Silence of Korean Contemporary History. Seoul: Chaekgua Hamgge [In Korean].
Lee, Ryong-kyong. 2003. “Anti-Americanism in Korea.” Review of Korean Studies 6 (1): 85108.
Lev-Wiesel, Rachel. 2007. “Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma across Three Generations: A Preliminary Study.” Qualitative Social Work 6 (1): 7594.
Lieberman, Alicia F., and Knorr, Kathleen. 2007. “The Impact of Trauma: A Developmental Framework for Infancy and Early Childhood.” Psychiatric Annals 37 (2): 416–22.
Lunch, William L., and Sperlich, Peter W.. 1979. “American Public Opinion and the War in Vietnam.” Western Political Quarterly 32 (1): 2144.
Ministry of Internal Affairs. 1955. Statistical Yearbook of Republic of Korea. Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Montalvo, Jose G. 2011. “Voting After the Bombings: A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Terrorist Attacks on Democratic Elections.” Review of Economics and Statistics 93 (4): 1146–54.
Motta, Robert W., Joseph, Jamie M., Rose, Raphael D., Suozzi, John M., and Leiderman, Laura J.. 1997. “Secondary Trauma: Assessing Inter-Generational Transmission of War Experiences with a Modified Stroop Procedure.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 53 (8): 895903.
Oh, Soo Sung, Shin, Hyun Kyun, Lee, Young-Ho, and Park, Joong Kyu. 2007. Psychological Damage Survey Report to Improve the Reliability of the Investigation and Seek Reconciliation on Treatment and Rehabilitation, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Republic of Korea [In Korean].
Osofsky, Joy D. 1995. “The Effect of Exposure to Violence on Young Children.” American Psychologist 50 (9): 782–8.
Page, Benjamin I., and Shapiro, Robert Y.. 1992. The Rational Public: Fifty Years of Trends in Americans’ Policy Preferences. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Page, Benjamin I., Shapiro, Robert Y., and Dempsey, Glenn R.. 1987. “What Moves Public Opinion?American Political Science Review 81 (1): 2343.
Park, Chanseong. 2010. The Korean War Went to the Village. Seoul: Dolbegae [In Korean].
Park, Myung Lim. 1996. The Onset and the Origins of the Korean War I, II. Seoul: Nanam [In Korean].
Park, Myung Lim. 2002. Korea 1950: War and Peace. Seoul: Nanam [In Korean].
Park, Tae Gyun. 2005. The Korean War. Seoul: Chaekgua Hamgge.
Risse-Kappen, Thomas. 1991. “Public Opinion, Domestic Structure, and Foreign Policy in Liberal Democracies.” World Politics 43 (4): 479512.
Rosenau, James N. 1961. Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: an Operational Formulation. New York: Random House.
Sack, Robert William H., Clarke, Gregory N., and Seeley, John. 1995. “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder across Two Generations of Cambodian Refugees.” Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 34(9): 1160–66.
Scholte, Willem F., Olff, Miranda, Ventevogel, Peter, de Vries, Giel-Jan, Jansveld, Eveline, Cardozo, Barbara Lopes, and Gotway Crawford, Carol A.. 2004. “Mental Health Symptoms Following War and Repression in Eastern Afghanistan.” Journal of the American Medical Association 292 (5): 585–93.
Shin, Gi-Wook. 1996. “South Korean Anti-Americanism: A Comparative Perspective.” Asian Survey 36 (8): 787803.
Sobel, Richard. 2001. The Impact of Public Opinion on US Foreign Policy Since Vietnam: Constraining the Colossus. New York: Oxford University Press.
Steinberg, David I. 2005. Korean Attitudes Toward the United States: Changing Dynamics. New York: M. E. Sharpe.
Truth Commission on Civilian Massacre in the Korean War. 2005. Report on Civilian Massacres in the Korean War. Seoul: Hanul Academy [In Korean].
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of the Republic of Korea. 2010. Complete Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission [In Korean].
Weingarten, Kaethe. 2004. “Witnessing the Effects of Political Violence in Families: Mechanisms of Intergenerational Transmission and Clinical Interventions.” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 30 (1): 4559.
Zeitzoff, Thomas. 2011. “Using Social Media to Measure Conflict Dynamics: An Application to the 2008–2009 Gaza Conflict.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 55 (6): 938–69.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of East Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 1598-2408
  • EISSN: 2234-6643
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-east-asian-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Kang and Hong supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (74 KB)
74 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed