Unrelenting animosity continues to define the relationship between the United States and North Korea, but in the mid-1980s, P’yŏngyang began to seek non-confrontational measures to fulfill one of its major diplomatic objectives—opening a channel of direct negotiation with Washington. The bodies of U.S. soldiers who had perished or gone missing in North Korea in 1950 during the Korean War became bargaining chips for the North Koreans. This article analyzes the political stakes of these remains for the two countries. It traces the meetings between Congressman Gillespie V. Montgomery and North Korean officials in 1989 and 1990, which led to the first return of U.S. soldiers’ remains since October 1954. North Korea’s insistence on delivering the remains to Montgomery, rather than the Korean War Military Armistice Commission, was an attempt to force the United States to acknowledge its legitimacy. Unable to abandon the bodies, U.S. officials offered limited concessions, while endeavoring to maintain the status quo in Korea. The 1990 remains repatriation revealed the possibility of cooperation between the two countries.
Japanese food first became the focus of serious attention in the United States during the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), when Japan’s victory over the Russian empire signaled that nation’s arrival as a new world power. This newfound interest had nothing to do with gastronomy. The conviction driving it was that diet and preventative health care in the Japanese military, which had been critical to its unexpected success, could serve as models for the United States. Military doctors, home economists, dietitians, businesses, vegetarians, and physical fitness fans joined this discourse, each with their own agendas. Many participants were women whose advocacy linked the supposed innate feminine propensity for nurturing and care giving with a shared faith in science to solve the problems facing the modern world. All believed Japan’s rice, vegetable, and fish-based diet contributed to the exceptional physical strength and stamina of the Japanese people because, unlike their own, “it was plain, rational, and easily digested, metabolized and assimilated.” More enthusiasm than knowledge in their claims, but this mattered little since the goal was not to popularize Japanese culinary culture, but to reform U.S. eating habits. This article examines the American discourse on Japanese food and health and how it shaped and reflected domestic political, social, and economic priorities in the 20th Century’s first decade.
Most studies of U.S. cultural diplomacy focus on the ways that the United States has leveraged cultural events to achieve its own political ends. The present article takes a slightly different approach in its analysis of the 1954 Korean Children’s Choir (kcc) tour of the United States. Using copious documentary sources and interviews the author has conducted with former child choristers, it traces how Republic of Korea (rok) President Syngman Rhee used this high-profile cultural event to create a new opening to advance his goals in his complicated diplomatic relations with the United States. At the close of the Korean War, the rok was a war-ravaged nation with little power in dealing with its patron superpower. Deploying personal connections and propaganda skills that he had cultivated during decades of living in exile in the United States, Rhee orchestrated the kcc’s tour of the United States, and the visit helped Rhee gain new footing in negotiating the rok’s unequal partnership with the United States. This detailed socio-historical and musicological account shows how both President Rhee and the choristers were active and effective agents in striving to put the rok front and center in the imaginations of Americans and impress upon them its cultural gravitas and strategic importance.
In the late 1970s, after the tumultuous period of the Cultural Revolution, the policy of the government of the People’s Republic of China (prc) in terms of scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation with the United States changed from rejection and exclusion to active participation and promotion. In this process, ideas and views played an important role. The outlook of the Chinese leadership and particularly Deng Xiaoping on science redefined China’s national interests, turning the promotion of Sino-U.S. science and technology cooperation into an active policy of the Chinese government. During the 1970s, the two countries conducted large-scale intergovernmental cooperation in the field of civil science and technology, signed the agreement on scientific and technological cooperation and dozens of memorandums of understanding and protocols, and finally, in 1979, established a long-term scientific and technological cooperation system. The article explores Sino-American relations through the prism of scientific and technological cooperation, showing how this contributed to creating long-term friendly relations beyond other high politics issues.