A Pop Quiz on Korea


(Choose the best answer. 3 points each. Answers at the end.)

1. In 1866 the U.S. merchant ship General Sherman defied the laws of Korea (then pursuing a policy of strict isolation) by entering Korean waters, and sailing up the Taedong River towards Pyongyang to demand trade. What happened to the ship?

a. It was attacked by local people and soldiers, burned, and sunk, with the loss of its entire crew.

b. Its crew was politely told that since Korea was a satrapy of China all negotiations concerning commerce had to take place via Beijing.

c. It was welcomed, and Korean officials began discussing with the Americans a Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

2. In 1882 the Korean government signed a treaty with the U.S. It is usually considered an “unequal treaty” like those signed with China and Japan. Its provisions included:

a. extraterritoriality (exempting U.S. citizens from Korean law and courts); U.S. rights to export opium to Korea; and the establishment of a U.S. legation

b. leasing of land for a legation; a most favored nation clause (assuring that no other foreign country would receive better treaty conditions than the U.S.); and the Korean renunciation of Chinese suzerainty

c. extraterritoriality; relatively low tariffs on imported U.S. goods; and a most favored nation clause


3. After the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, Japan acquired control over Korea, annexing it formally in 1910. In 1905 Japanese Prime Minister Katsura Tar? met secretly with U.S. Secretary of War William Howard Taft, producing the Taft-Katsura Agreement in which the U.S. recognized Japan’s interests in Korea. What did the U.S. receive in return?

a. Japanese agreement to limit emigration to the U.S.

b. Japanese recognition of U.S. colonial rule over the Philippines.

c. Japan’s renunciation to all claims to the Hawai’ian Islands.

4. At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, U.S. President Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin discussed the postwar future of Korea. Stalin advocated independence as soon as possible. Roosevelt

a. agreed to immediate independence

b. advocated a trusteeship of 20-30 years, citing the positive example of U.S. rule in the Philippines

c. suggested Korea remain a part of the Japanese Empire, to be occupied by Allied forces

5. In accordance with a wartime agreement that the USSR would enter the war with Japan following the German surrender, Soviet forces invaded Korea in August, advancing to the 38th parallel by August 10. They could easily have occupied the whole peninsula. What did they do?

a. They accepted the Japanese surrender, provided arms to local communist forces led by Kim Il-sung, and withdrew within the year.

b. They consulted with their American allies, who requested that they stop their advance at the 38th parallel, so that U.S. forces could in the next month occupy the rest of Korea. The Soviets agreed to the U.S. proposal.

c. They proclaimed the Korean Soviet Republic and made plans for permanent incorporation into the USSR.

6. In August 1945 defeated Japanese forces formally turned over authority in Korea to the broad-based Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence, led by Lyuh Woon-hyung, which in September proclaimed the Korean People’s Republic (KPR). When U.S. forces under Gen. Reed Hodge arrived in Inchon to accept the Japanese surrender, they

a. ordered all Japanese officials to remain in their posts, refused to recognize Lyuh as national leader, and soon banned all public reference to the KPR

b. recognized Lyuh as the legitimate head of state

c. negotiated with Lyuh to facilitate swift attainment of independence of a united Korea


7. As of 1945, most Koreans associated the majority of Korean big landowners and businessmen with the Japanese colonial regime. How did U.S. occupation forces deal with this stratum?

a. They subjected it to a thoroughgoing purge.

b. They relied upon it for support.

c. They remained neutral as the numerous “people’s committees” loyal to the PRK organized against it.

8. In August 1948 the U.S.-occupied zone of Korea became the Republic of Korea. The next month, the KPR operating in the north became the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Around this time there were many revolts against the U.S.-backed authorities in the south led by supporters of the original KPR. Where was the biggest one?

a. on Cheju Island, off the south coast of South Korea, where there was minimal Soviet or North Korean influence

b. along the North Korean border, organized by communist operatives

c. in Seoul, led by communist agitators

9. In June 1950 North Korean forces attacked the South and by September controlled all but the southeastern region around Pusan. What was the reaction of South Koreans?

a. stiff resistance, in support of the popular U.S.-backed Syngman Rhee regime

b. little resistance, and initially much cooperation

c. general apathy

10. The United Nations Security Council approved a U.S. proposal for war on North Korea. Why, when both the USSR and China were on the UNSC, was the proposal passed?

a. At the time, both China and the USSR continued to maintain their World War II-era alliances with the U.S.

b. UN rules did not require UNSC unanimity but only a majority vote to commit the body to war.

c. China’s seat was held by the pro-U.S. Guomindang regime headquartered on Taiwan, and the Soviet delegate was absent when the vote was taken.

11. How many people, military plus civilians, died in the Korean War?

a. 500,000-1 million

b. 1 million-2 million

c. about 4 million


12. How many American soldiers died (officially) in the Korean War?

a. 25,513

b. 54,246

c. 41,739


13. Between 1954 and 1960, how much of South Korea’s government budget came from foreign, especially U.S., aid?

a. about half

b. about one-third

c. 20%


14. Park Chung-hee, who had served in the Japanese army during the Second World War, participated in a coup in 1961, and then became president in 1963. His rule, to 1979, was characterized by

a. economic growth and political liberalization

b. a “sunshine policy” towards North Korea

c. economic growth, martial law, censorship, political repression, and torture of political prisoners


15. The KCIA abducted dissident Kim Dae-jung from a Tokyo hotel in August 1973, intending to drown him. Following a conversation between U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Philip Habib and Park Chung-hee the U.S. CIA sent a helicopter to the Korean spy ship on which he was confined. The CIA

a. demanded his immediate release

b. demanded that he not be killed

c. requested an explanation


16. Park’s political career ended in 1979 when

a. the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) assassinated him

b. student protests toppled him

c. his constitutional term as president expired


17. In May 1980, after the the proclamation of martial law, there was a massive uprising in the South Korean city of Kwangju involving tens of thousands. By official estimate, about 200 civilian pro-democracy protestors were killed by military forces; Kwangju residents claim about 2000. Which of the following best describes U.S. behavior during this incident?

a. The Carter administration gave prior approval to South Korean contingency plans to use military units against the protesters.

b. The U.S. cautioned against violence against peaceful demonstrators.

c. The U.S. remained scrupulously neutral during the event.


18. Which of the following South Korean presidents have been convicted of the crimes of corruption, participation in the 1979 coup, and involvement in the Kwangju Massacre?

a. Roh Tae-woo (1987-93)

b. Chun Doo-hwan (1980-87)

c. both of the above


19. Early in his presidency, Jimmy Carter announced plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from South Korea. What happened to this plan?

a. After meeting Park Chung-hee in Seoul in June 1979, Carter announced that U.S. troops would remain, and that the U.S. would expand its security relationship with South Korea.

b. It was abandoned when Carter left office.

c. It was implemented, but troops were returned during Reagan’s presidency.


20. After meeting with Chun Doo-hwan in 1985, President Ronald Reagan

a. praised Chun for his government’s “considerable progress” in “promot[ing] freedom and democracy”

b. mistakenly referred to him publicly as “President Marcos”

c. doubled U.S. aid to South Korea


21. Like many nations, the DPRK has sought in the past to acquire nuclear weapons. It may have produced two as of 1992, during the first Bush administration. The Clinton administration negotiated a deal in 1994 whereby Pyongyang suspended its nuclear program in exchange for oil and the foreign-sponsored construction of two cool-water reactors. What happened to the agreement?

a. It was scrupulously followed by both sides until recently.

b. Construction of the reactors did not take place; the Bush administration rejected the Clinton policy and South Korean president Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy” towards the North; and at some point North Korea resumed its nuclear weapons program.

c. Bush explicitly repudiated the agreement in his 2002 “State of the Union” speech.


22. In 1997 Kim Dae-jung was elected South Korean president and initiated the “sunshine policy” of rapprochement with North Korea. This led to his meeting in Pyongyang in June 2000 with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, in which both leaders agreed to seek reunification without foreign interference. When Kim met with President Bush the following year in Washington, Bush

a. declined to support the “sunshine policy” and demanded that North Korea provide more verification of the suspension of its missile program, and withdraw conventional artillery and armor from the border with South Korea

b. enthusiastically supported Kim’s policy and the 1994 Agreed Framework

c. offered proof to journalists that North Korea was not complying with the 1994 agreement


23. South Korea has been counted among the “Four Tigers” because of its strong economic growth since the 1970s. But in 1997 the won lost half its value and the economy collapsed. Unemployment rose from 2 to 7 percent. Thereafter, the economy has rebounded due to:

a. an IMF agreement raising the percentage of a Korean company’s stock that could be owned by foreigners from 26 to 50 percent, insuring greater foreign control over the economy

b. a $ 55 billion loan package

c. both of the above


24. In his State of the Union address (January 29, 2002) President Bush referred to North Korea as

a. a “rogue state”

b. part of an “axis of evil”

c. an “evil empire”


25. What percentage of South Koreans polled after Bush’s speech disagreed with his characterization of North Korea?

a. 60%

b. 50%

c. 35%


26. Which, among the following, has most benefited from the acquisition of North Korean missile technology?

a. Iraq

b. Iran

c. Pakistan


27. Currently deployed North Korean missiles night possibly reach what part of U.S. territory?

a. California

b. Texas

c. The Aleutian Islands


28. How many U.S. troops are currently stationed in South Korea?

a. about 16,000

b. about 22,000

c. about 37,000


29. How many foreign troops are stationed in North Korea?

a. none

b. 5-10,000

c. 10-20,000


30. According to official South Korean government figures, how many U.S. soldiers in South Korea between 1967 and 1998 committed “overt criminal offenses”?

a. over 40,000

b. over 20,000

c. over 10,000


31. How many “registered” prostitutes service U.S. GIs in South Korea?

a. about 12,000

b. about 18,000

c. none; there is no registration process


32. U.S. arms sales to South Korea during the Clinton administration were in excess of

a. $ 10 billion

b. $ 6 billion

c. $ 2 billion


33. There is some evidence that North Korea may possess one or two nuclear weapons. What nation is known to have deployed about 100 tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula between 1958 and 1991?

a. South Korea

b. Russia

c. U.S.



Current South Korean public opinion polls indicate that the foreign country people most fear is

a. the U.S.

b. North Korea

c. China


Answers: 1 (a); 2 (c); 3 (b); 4 (b); 5 (b); 6 (a); 7 (b); 8 (a); 9 (b); 10 (c); 11 (c); 12 (b); 13 (a): 14 (c); 15 (b); 16 (a); 17 (a); 18 (c); 19 (a); 20 (a); 21 (b); 22 (a); 23 (a); 24 (b); 25 (a); 26 (c); 27 (c); 28 (c); 29 (a); 30 (a); 31 (b); 32 (a); 33 (c); bonus (a)


GARY LEUPP is an an associate professor, Department of History, Tufts University and coordinator, Asian Studies Program. He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

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