The Park Chung Hee period was when a fully fledged modern nation state was formed. As nation state is intimately joined with the process of capitalistic expansion and reproduction, the Park regime’s modernization project can be summed up as an expansion of capitalism and construction of national subjectivity. Farmers, workers, and university students, while occupying different sociopolitical locations in society, were unitary subjects insofar as they were actively mobilized for the modernization project. This paper argues that in the process of mobilization, the state exercised both coercion and politics of consent; the state’s developmentalism was conjoined with the people’s egalitarian desire for a better life. The people did not just passively follow the state, but also actively and enthusiastically participated in the state’s mobilization drive. The Park regime was also an active practitioner of mass politics. The dominant state discourse of developmentalism and nationalism reappropriated as its own the egalitarian pressure coming from below, making its politics not just of repression but also of desire. Unlike the politics of discrimination of the pre-modern period, the Park regime pursued the nationalization of society and people by interpellating the disparate people into a unified national subjectivity.
The theory of mass dictatorship, informed by and in critical dialogue with the recent European scholarship of fascist and dictatorial regimes, allows new insights into the Park Chung Hee regime and its relationship with the people of Korea, focusing on the structure of consent of the people for the regime. Challenging both nationalist and minjung narratives as well as commonly held views on the authoritarianism and the democratization movements, the theory of mass dictatorship argues for a multifaceted approach to the Park period, shifting the focus away from the previous domains of institutions and the political to the domain of the cultural the everyday lives of ordinary people in all of their multiple, variegated, and often conflicting dimensions.
Despite implanting buoyant hopes for South Korea’s modern and democratic transformation, the April Revolution of 1960 gave way to the military coup of 1961 and the restoration of authoritarian rule. For this reason, April 19th came to be known in subsequent years as an “incomplete revolution” by nationalist intellectuals. This article examines the discourse of national regeneration in the aftermath of April 19th and May 16th to demonstrate the interrelatedness of the two events. The study contends that this pair of seminal developments generated, and was generated by, widespread perceptions of historical transition from an undesirable colonial past to a more desirable postcolonial future. Emergent nationalist beliefs in the start of a new phase in national history played a crucial role in consolidating the framework for political struggles and historical change in the era of developmental authoritarianism.
As America’s closest foreign ally during the Vietnam War, South Korea sent more than 340,000 troops to active combat in central Vietnam over a period of nearly a decade. Motivations for and the aftereffects of Korea’s military involvement have been analyzed along the dual axes of economics (developmentalism) and politics (anti communism), but South Korea’s involvement remains a matter of both shame and vainglory in popular memory today. At times reviled as no more than a species of government-authorized male prostitution and at other times celebrated as an example of Korean “toughness” and “ingenuity” on and off the battlefield, Korea’s Vietnam offers a fascinating intertext to the trauma of America’s Vietnam. This paper focuses on constructions of masculinity in representations of the Vietnam War in South Korean popular culture and identifies the latter as a site both of patriarchal alliance between the nation and the family, and of the dissolution of that alliance. Special attention will be paid to gendered revisions of Korea’s Vietnam found in two recent films, R-Point (2004) and Sunny (2008).
This study explores how anti-colonial discourses of student anti-state nationalism in the 1980s were influenced by the state nationalism during the Park Chung-Hee era. With few exceptions, studies on Korean democratization have exclusively focused on the growth of civil society, independent from the authoritarian state government. Nevertheless, this trend in research overlooks the simple historical fact that student protesters in the 1980s had been heavily indoctrinated by the state discourses of nationalism to the point of having to recite the National Charter of Education in elementary schools. This study investigates the symbolic structure of student anti-state nationalism in the 1980s and its connectedness with the state nationalism of the 1970s and argues that the force of nationalism produced both domination and resistance in those two decades.
The notion that the progenitor of the Jurchen Jin dynasty was a Korean and that Korea was the ancestral land of the Manchu was widespread in East Asia in the twelfth century and continued for hundreds of years until the compilation of Research on Manchu Origins in the eighteenth century. Related records can be found in Chinese, Jurchen, and Korean records of the time such as Songmojiwen and Goryeosa. Dongyi (東夷) refers to the Sinocentric world view where the Chinese themselves occupy the center of the universe, while the people on its four fringes were considered barbarians. Dongyi (東夷) here refers to eastern barbarians, which includes Koreans, Japanese, and the Manchu. In this paper, Dongyi consciousness refers to the Qing elite’s view of the ancient Korean kingdoms of Baekje and Silla. It appears that Hambo (函普), a man from Silla, migrated to Jurchen, married a Jurchen woman, and settled there. Starting from the time of his fourth generation descendant Seok Ro, his tribe began to gain power, and his seventh generation descendant Aguda founded the Jin dynasty. A fact that shows the Manchu’s affinity toward Koreans is that kingdoms normally regarded as being Korean such as Buyeo, Baekje, and Silla are included in a book on Manchu origins, Research on Manchu Origins. The compiler’s motive in including Baekje and Silla seems to have been to emphasize the advanced civilizations of Baekje and Silla as their ancestors and thereby placing themselves on an equal footing with the Han.
The idea of the archetypical utopia as it relates to nature, individuals, and society is shown through the myth of Dangun, the founding myth of the Korean nation. It is a story of gods, and is the first record of nature and of civilization, the relationship between man and woman, and the appearance of a desirable community. Hongik ingan thought in Dangun Joseon shows the view of god that includes the descending of the god of heaven, the construction of the city of god that is in accord with the ultimate criteria, and the immortal god of the mountain. It is not humanism simply to benefit human beings, but rather the thought of unification between god and humans. Hongik ingan thought cannot be explained by theocentrism or humanism alone. The myth that a god descended into the human world and both bear and tiger wished to be human can be understood as ancient Koreans being focused on human beings as a central figure and on the pursuit of Hongik ingan and the harmonization among god, humans, and nature. But the anthropocentrism aimed to realize the human world with the governing ideology given from god was for the mutual benefit for both god and humans.
The Joseon dynasty, based on its approximate 500 year-long Gyeongguk daejeon system, maintained its two governmental features: internationally “respecting the senior state”(sadae) with China and “keeping friendship with neighboring countries”(kyorin)(Jurchin and Japan) on the one hand, while it domestically pursued respect for Confucian proprieties and conceded only relative sovereignty to the Joseon king on the other hand. This political system, however, was dismantled in 1897 following the birth of the Daehan Empire, which proclaimed itself as a self reliant independent nation in the international community and in which unlimited sovereign authority was granted to the emperor. How is the Daehan Empire different from the Joseon Dynasty? For this, I compared the provisions of the Daehanguk gukje(hereafter, Gukje), which was established with the birth of the Daehan Empire in 1897, with those of the Gyeongguk daejeon as follows. First, Gukje states that the Daehan Empire is an independent empire that can make its own decisions regarding important matters of the Empire, such as the dispatch of diplomats, declarations of war, and conclusion of peace treaties. In comparison, Gyeongguk daejeon accepted a junior status to China and scrupulously observed the ritual practices of a tributary state, based on the tradition of “the respect for the senior state(sadae) diplomacy”. Second, another point to be noted is the stipulation that grants unlimited military power to the emperor. According to the Gukje, the emperor has the command of the military and naval forces, the right of enacting and enforcing laws, and even the power to pardon (Article 6). Compared with this, the royal authority prescribed in the Gyeongguk daejeon is relative. Unlike the Gukje, according to which the emperor is supposed to assume all responsibilities from the enactment of laws to the appointment of government officials, the Gyeongguk daejeon system makes it a principle to entrust all those responsibilities to ministers. The third difference is found in the upgrading of state rituals. Whereas the Gukjo oryeui established the norms for the state rituals at the kingdom level, the Daehan Empire raised all its state rituals to the level of those of an empire and stipulated the norms in the Daerye uigwe (Ceremony Manual for the Grand Rites). For example, the Daerye uigwe assigns to the country a different status from that specified in the Gukjo oryeui, which is a counterpart to the Gyeongguk daejeon.