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1964-1990

<p><em>Challenge and Change. United States History: The Second Century</em></p>

Section on the Korean War from a 1973 American History Textbook

American memory of the Korean War from 1964-1990 was largely shaped by the Vietnam War, which had an enormous impact on American feelings and perceptions about armed conflict in this period. Discussions of the Korean War during the Vietnam conflict and in its immediate aftermath often related the two conflicts or discussed Korea in terms of Vietnam, not only because of the Vietnam War’s widespread and polemic impact on the American public but also because of a number of perceived similarities between the two wars. Because both Korea and Vietnam were East Asian conflicts in divided post-colonial nations against Communists with Chinese and Soviet support, many Americans at this time tended to view the wars in the same light. Furthermore, both Korea and Vietnam were commonly perceived as “hot flashes” in the larger Cold War against Communism, which contributed to the perception of the two wars as related. Because the most prominent aspect of the Vietnam War in American popular culture was its controversial nature and unpopularity, it was usually these aspects of the Korean War that received the most attention in portrayals of the conflict at this time.

            Although the Korean War was overshadowed by the Vietnam War in this period, it was not entirely absent in American media. Discussions of the war and its relevance appeared sporadically in journalism from this period, often prompted by significant events such as the death of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1964 or the Axe Murder Incident in 1976 which returned media focus to the Korean conflict. The war was also portrayed in the long-running television series M*A*S*H*, in the Korean-American film Inchon, and in books and memoirs such as Gen. Matthew Ridgway’s The Korean War