Original Research

The Obama factor: Responses in South Korea (2008-2009)

Jacobus A. du Pisani, Kwangsu Kim
New Contree | Vol 65 | a313 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/nc.v65i0.313 | © 2024 Jacobus A. du Pisani, Kwangsu Kim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 February 2024 | Published: 30 December 2012

About the author(s)

Jacobus A. du Pisani, Department of History and Ancient Culture, North-West University, South Africa
Kwangsu Kim, Department of African Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of

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An analysis is made in this article of responses in the South Korean media to the rise of Barack Obama, starting with his appearance on the scene as presidential contender, then being nominated as the official candidate of the Democratic Party, en then being elected to the office of President of the USA. At the outset the context is outlined of relations between South Korea and the USA. Then the opinions and attitudes of South Korean politicians, economists, editors, academics and letter writers from the general public at key moments during 2008 and 2009 in the American presidential election campaign are analysed. The focus is on expectations of Obama among the South Korean citizens mainly with regard to his economic policy and his policy on US foreign relations with South Korea. For the South Koreans Obama’s stance towards North Korea on its development of a nuclear capability and the future of the foreign trade agreement between the USA and South Korea was crucial. The analysis in this article of the reactions to Obama’s rise expressed in the South Korean newspapers confirms that globalisation and glocalisation are concurrent processes in the contemporary world. On the one hand a set of liberal moral values has become dominant among moderates all over the world that unites them in their attitudes towards global events. On the other hand those generic values only assume real significance for people when they are applied to local issues.


Barack Obama; US presidential election 2008; South Korean newspapers; Foreign relations USA-ROK (Republic of Korea); KORUS FTA (Korea-United States Free Trade Agreement); Nuclear disarmament North Korea


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