The Institute for Korean Studies is pleased to co-sponsor this event with the History Department's Center for Historical Research:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
"The Three Revolutions of Syngman Rhee"
Flyer: David Fields Flyer
Abstract: In the pantheon of authoritarian strongmen of the Cold War, it is tempting to think of Syngman Rhee as the one we know the best. Prior to his return to Korea in 1945—courtesy of a War Department transport plane—Rhee spent nearly forty years in the United States. He earned degrees from Harvard and Princeton, spoke English fluently, and was a dedicated Christian to boot. He seemed tailor-made for the task of assisting the U.S. Army to occupy a country that did not want to be occupied. But Rhee was not returning to Korea as an American miracle man, but as a Korean revolutionary hero who had struggled against the power structures of the traditional Korean state and the Japanese occupation. Back on Korean soil he would lead a third revolution against both the last vestiges of the Chosun state–which the Japanese had largely left in place–and what he believed was a Soviet effort to subjugate the entire peninsula. This lecture will examine Syngman Rhee’s role as a revolutionary and what it can teach us about the Korean Independence Movement, the Division of Korea, and the Korean War.
Bio: Dr. Fields is associate director of the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and author of the forthcoming Foreign Friends: Syngman Rhee, American Exceptionalism, and the Division of Korea (University of Kentucky Press). His bio can be found here.
Free and Open to the Public
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of History's Center for Historical Research and a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant to The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center.