Rise of the Yellow Peril

Last week, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) came out with a statement saying they had a plan of testing nuclear missiles soon. They then continued by stating these nuclear tests would be targeted towards the United States.  They did not imply that we were the targets; they made it clear that the United States would be the target of these tests.  Since then, politicians such as Hillary Clinton and other government leaders from several United Nations’ countries have tried to convince the North Korean government to stop the nuclear test.

With these threats coming from North Korea, I fear a possible rise of disdain or negativity towards North Koreans similar to that of the “Yellow Peril”. In class we learned that when the Chinese were coming to immigrate into the country, there was fear among the citizens of America, of being overpowered, jobs being taken and the culture being changed.  This fear was further propagated by media discourse such that the Chinese people were perceived as enemies. Examples of media tools used to influence people included cartoons, as displayed below, and movies. The federal government also took a relatively strong action by enacting the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, suspending migration of Chinese workers to the United States further encouraging the media and the citizens’ animosity. Similarly, during World War II, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, newspaper cartoons portrayed the Japanese as hostile people. This led to the mass support of placing individuals with Japanese ancestry in internment camps due to the fear that was created once again by the media, requiring the government take action.

In regards to the North Koreans, even prior to the current nuclear threat, there had been some examples of the “Yellow Peril” stigma. One example is in the movie Red Dawn in which North Korea is depicted as a major threat to America. In class, we read some of the tweets that demonstrated the fear of North Koreans as the movie portrayed the rage of people and how they wanted to rise up and actually kill North Koreans. In other past films, there was reference to the former leader of North Korea, Kim Jong II, like in the movie Team America: World Police and a James Bond movie. If these threats continue, we may not only get more media expressions in cartoons and movies but they may send a stronger message once again encouraging the citizens of the United States to negatively act towards the North Koreans and deem them a threat like we have seen in the past with the Chinese and the Japanese.
Image from: http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/yellow_promise_yellow_peril/image/2002_3727.jpg


“Asian Americans and the Media” – Kent A. Ono and Vincent N. Pham
Class 5 In-Class Lecture and discussion
http://www.voanews.com/content/clinton-hopes-north-korea-can-be-dissuaded-from-nuclear-test/1593364.html For news article referencing the events so far from North Korea


One thought on “Rise of the Yellow Peril

  1. Hi Jonathan, You do a good job of considering how a threat located in Asia (North Korea) may influence media representations of Asians/Asian Americans (especially Koreans). One thing to consider is how do you separate the discussion of a global threat that some of the actions of North Korea pose from the larger perception of “yellow peril?”


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