This paper offers an overview of the history of queer activism in South Korea, paying special attention to the formation of yeondae (solidarity) and sosuja jeongchi (minority politics) in queer politics since the 1990s. In particular, this paper engages in the ways in which queer activism has aligned and/or conflicted with broader social movements in postauthoritarian South Korea. This paper traces the radical kernel of queerness in practicing solidarity based on anti-capitalist and feminist critiques, bridging a range of forms of social marginality in South Korea. Queer activists have contested heteronormativity in mass protests and critically intervened in the democratic nation-building process of the liberal regimes of Kim Dae-jung (1998–2003), Roh Moo-hyun (2003–2008), and Moon Jae-in (2017–present) presidencies, as well as the Candlelight Protests (2016–2017) against Park Geun-hye. In curating and portraying six historical scenes of queer protests, this paper illuminates queer activist labor to imagine a new futurity based on minority politics.
This article begins by chronicling the structural changes introduced to the labor market over the last two decades, which generated diverse forms of stratification among workers as well as new labor grievances. It examines how Korean workers responded to the neoliberal labor market conditions by pursuing new strategies of organizing and engaging in novel protest repertoires in their resistance to employment insecurity, precarity, and discrimination. Comparing cases of labor struggles with modest achievements with those without, this study suggests that the construction of broad social solidarity among stratified workers, national labor federations, and civil society contributes to the enhancement of labor’s cause. Yet, corporations emboldened with the freedom of spatial mobility and diverse methods of extreme outsourcing continue to pose detrimental limitations to labor movements’ ability to achieve meaningful gains despite their dire resistance.
This paper provides an overview of the ways in which feminist activism has, since 2015, gained new momentum in South Korea in terms of its scope, reach, and range of agendas. Building on existing scholarly discussions of feminist movements and gender politics, I first situate the resurgence of feminism within the broader historical and socio-political context of Korean society, including the diversification of social movements generally in post-authoritarian Korea, women’s precarious status, and the rise of misogyny. I then discuss the main characteristics of feminist activism on digital media and their implications, in particular, the broad range of feminist subjects, the extension of sites for and methods of struggle, and the emergence and centering of gendered issues within digital environments. Lastly, I assess the limitations of the term “young young feminist” and the diverse politics and controversies associated with contemporary feminist activism, with a focus on the critiques of raetpem (self-identified ‘radical feminists’). The paper concludes with an argument for intersectional and transnational feminism and suggestions for future research into feminist activism.
Since the early 21st century, conservative evangelicals in South Korea have actively engaged in contentious politics, playing a central role in organizing the right-wing social movement in civil society. At first, such politicized evangelicals, who may be dubbed as the Korean version of the Evangelical Right, conjured up the old specter of the Korean War and stood against those who, in their minds, went against the Cold War dogmata of anticommunism and pro-Americanism. Over the last two decades, however, the Korean Evangelical Right has expanded its battle line to confront other types of perceived enemies on the Culture War front, especially Islam and LGBTQ persons. By tracing the genealogy of their social movement, this paper explores the ways in which the Korean Evangelical Right finds itself in the predicament of wavering between the geopolitics of the Cold War and the global politics of the Culture War, insofar as these two wars operate on different sets of the friend-foe distinctions.
The power of social movements depends on their autonomy to formulate agendas free from the control of powerful actors and challenge the status quo through sustained collective action. It was with this power of social movement that political challengers in South Korea were able to force authoritarian rulers to concede democracy and to expand democratic rights in the postauthoritarian period. However, the political relations between challengers and the government have shown significant change since the advent of the new millennium. At the core of this shift has been the institutionalization of co-governance, or hyeopchi, that celebrated cooperative partnership between government and civil society. An abundance of research has been done on co-governance with the intent of promoting this partnership from a public policy point of view. Critical analyses concerning how co-governance may have affected the ability of social movements to challenge existing power relations or the autonomous capacity of civil society have been conspicuous for their absence. This paper fills this lacuna by tracing the trajectory of the environmental movement with a focus on the introduction of co-governance mechanisms in the mid-2000s that significantly altered the political relationship between potential challengers and the powers that be. What emerges out of this analysis is a picture of the South Korean environmental movement that set out as an independent political movement gradually losing its autonomy and becoming part of the status quo. While co-governance may have expanded the scope of citizen participation and animated local communities, it has been inimical to the power of social movements to effect meaningful change.
The 2019 South Korean-Japanese trade row made clear that the gap in historical perceptions between Japan and its former colony also had an important linguistic side. South Korea and Japan operate with two mutually incompatible sets of historical terms, especially regarding the most sensitive historical issues. Moreover, both governments have been making conscious efforts in language policing, attempting to control the ways in which their respective media refer to anything supposed to be potentially controversial between the two states. Furthermore, the war between the two language-policing regimes across the Straits of Korea has a civil war aspect as well: right-wing historical revisionists in South Korea have been actively appropriating the terminology of their Japanese colleagues while consolidating their opposition to the preferred terminology of the current South Korean government. They have also been exporting to Japan some of the terms they have coined. The present article deals with all the interrelated aspects of the South Korean-Japanese language war. It attempts to explore the ways in which state-level language management regimes have been operating and the interactions between language policies and media language conventions. At the same time, it proposes solutions for overcoming limitations of state language policing and linguistic nationalism.
The hovering Bando Hotel in central Seoul, built by a Japanese industrial mogul in 1938, enjoyed notoriety as a key landmark in the capital cityscape for thirtysome years. The Bando also occupied political and cultural centerstage, visually signifying Japan’s colonial modernity during its foundational years, followed by representing a political nerve center for both the American military occupation (1945–1948) in southern Korea and the postwar Syngman Rhee regime throughout the 1950s. This study examines the Bando Hotel as an ensconced space of political power and Cold War internationalism in Seoul, under Rhee’s postwar translation of the hotel from its Japanese foundation into Americanism from 1954 to 1960. Reflecting Rhee’s desires to be intimately integrated into the Americanled Free Asia, the Bando Hotel embodied American modernity and Cold War cosmopolitanism. This spatial and symbolic transformation, however, was more superficial than actual, much like Rhee’s precarious and fraught support from the United States; despite his attempt to control and project this exclusive space of power and Americanism, the emblematic significance of this spatial facade also diffused following Rhee’s fall from power. The spatial history of the Bando encapsulated the interpenetrating desires and failures of his regime.
The purpose of this study is to analyze Reading Joseoneo 1, 2 for apprentices (Jang 2015; Yang 2015) from Kim Il-sung University and Reading Joseoneo 2 for apprentices (Kim 2007) of Kim Hyong Jik University of Education, which are all Joseoneo (Korean language) textbooks for international students in North Korea, to better understand recent Korean-as-foreign-language textbooks in North Korea. This study is significant as it identifies through its analysis two new facts. First, it to establishes the existence of Kim Hyong Jik University of Education’s Reading Joseoneo 1, and to a certain extent identifies the status, roles, and characteristics of the textbooks and composition of the students of Kim Il-sung University and Kim Hyong Jik University of Education. Second, it argues the importance of the fact that there are practice questions related to “word combination” in the North Korean Reading Joseoneo textbook of Kim Il-sung University for Chinese students.
Rather than treat Korean women’s education as a monolithic subject, this article examines the first schools for females established by the aristocratic yangban beginning in 1898 that reflected an effort to formalize elite female education and provide an alternative to the Christian missionary schools. Korean-founded schools adjusted their curriculum to include new subjects such as foreign languages, history, geography, and math while also offering erudite Confucian-based subjects vis-à-vis morals education, calligraphy, and literary Sinitic. These classical subjects were too advanced for the missionary schools to offer. The combination of these subjects was appropriate for women of elite households since they would marry government officials, diplomats, and scholars (also of yangban extraction), would need to be familiar with aristocratic etiquette and mores in a changing context, and would have to raise their children for their elite station in life. This changed after 1905 as Korean sovereignty became increasingly threatened and the mobilization of the female population, regardless of social class, became an urgent matter. Thus, all Korean women were called upon to perform their patriotic duties as wise mothers and good wives to contribute to the strengthening of the country.