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A Republican View of Rhee: The Chicago Tribune’s coverage of Syngman Rhee from 1945 to 1950 Open Access Deposited

This paper aims to examine the attitude that the Chicago Tribune displayed towards the Korean leader Syngman Rhee from 1945-1950. The Tribune played a key role in providing a voice for conservative Republicans during the first half of the 20th century, under the ownership of Robert McCormick. The paper was split over foreign policy, as it supported stopping Communism abroad but also supported non-intervention in global affairs. The political situation on the Korean Peninsula therefore proved to be an especially challenging topic for the Tribune, as it forced it to choose between combating Communism and non-intervention. In order to ascertain the Tribune’s positions on these key issues, I analyzed articles that had been digitized as part of ProQuest’s historical archives. Throughout this relatively short period of time, the Tribune’s opinion of Rhee varied greatly. It initially supported Rhee as a hero against the Truman state department. After the paper established a reporter in Korea, however, the paper’s attitude shifted, and Rhee was portrayed as an ultranationalist zealot. Ultimately, the Tribune developed a stance of confronting communist advances and supporting anti-Communist governments such as Rhee’s that would hold true for the rest of the cold war.

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