Whose Gun Was It? Long-Term Effects of Wartime Violence on the Public Perception of Participating States
36 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 7, 2016
How does experience with war affect people’s attitudes toward participating states in the long run? Public attitudes toward the state and foreign countries are critical in forming foreign policy in democracies. In this paper, we examine whether 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 com- pares the cohorts born before and after the war, we find that direct exposure to wartime violence induces negative perceptions regarding the perpetrator countries. As many of the civilian massacres were committed by the South Korean armed forces, prewar cohorts living in violence-ridden areas demonstrate significantly less pride in South Korea and less hostility toward North Korea. In contrast, postwar cohorts in violent areas, who were exposed to intensive anti-communist campaigns and incentivized to differentiate themselves from the victims, show significantly greater pride in South Korea, greater hospitality toward the United States and greater hostility to North Korea, compared to prewar cohorts in the same areas and to the same cohorts born in non-violent areas.
Keywords: Civil conflict, public attitudes, the Korean War, anti-communist campaign, South Korea
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