This article analyzes commemorative speeches on the May
18 Kwangju Democracy Movement (1980) by South Korean
presidents to investigate how the historical events have been
interpreted across alternating political camps in power.
Among various other issues regarding the interpretation
and evaluation of the country’s political history the May 18
Kwangju Democracy Movement is still not fully accounted
for its causes and consequences, and remains contested by
conservative forces 40 years after the events occurred. While
there is a rich body of research on the May 18 Kwangju
Democracy Movement including the topic of memory politics,
presidential commemorative speeches so far have been
neglected despite the fact that they represent an important
mode of political communication in modern societies
regarding the production of authoritative remembrance
narratives. This article contributes to filling this void by
examining all past May 18 Memorial Day addresses by
presidents between 1993 and 2019, that is a total of 11
speeches. The study finds a clear tendency in conservative
presidents’ speeches toward rhetorical tactics that aim to
depoliticize still-contested issues surrounding the May 18
Kwangju Democracy Movement with the effect of potentially
forestalling critical engagement with its causes and
consequences, and thus frustrating reconciliation.
This article examines how feature films represent mothers
who became activists after having lost a child during the
Kwangju May Uprising. As a means to reconsider how the
mass medium helps shape the public’s understanding of
various factors in the historic event and its contribution
to democratization in Korea, this paper examines whether
the popular entertainment genre provides the audience
with a sound perspective to learn different human factors
in the Uprising as well as post-Uprising social movements.
Specifically, this article examines how the film portrays
women’s involvement in post-Uprising movement, focusing on
the gendered nature of representation, or un-representations
of female activists in the movies on the Uprising and other
social movements. This paper calls for a more just recognition
of various human components that contribute to social
transformation, by overcoming the epistemological hegemony
This article compares two sites of state violence in Asia,
Japan’s Hiroshima and Korea’s Kwangju, in order to analyze
commemoration of state-initiated civilian sufferings. Despite
common symptoms of traumatic experiences at individual
level, commemorative practices exhibit striking differences
at societal level. Hiroshima is still in mourning over its
own victimhood, while remaining relatively ambivalent
about Japan’s role as the perpetrator of other countries.
The controversies surrounding the renovation project of
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum from 1985 until 1994
show the city’s willingness to promote its moral authority
as the anti-nuclear pacifist leader, whereas the municipal
leadership conceded to make political compromises. Kwangju,
the place of civilian massacre in May 1980, on the other hand,
has undergone dramatic transformation from the site of antigovernment
protests to the mecca of Korea’s democratization
movement. The trajectory of the May 18 Democracy Cemetery
shows Kwangju’s ideational transformation from a victim to
the hero of Korean democracy. A cross-cultural comparison
of the two commemorative sites of state violence shows the
way in which Japanese cultural modes of ambivalence and
situational logic permit ambivalence, whereas Korean cultural
modes of self-victimization and resistance negate a post-hoc
aggrandizement of the tragic past.
This paper examines the survivors’ and bereaved families'
experiences of the Kantō Massacre in September 1923 and
seeks to draw a connection between said experiences and
their movements after the tragedy, focusing on the fear
planted in the ethnic Koreans as psychological damage
caused by the massacre. This fear manifested itself in various
physical behaviors such as fleeing, hiding, or pretending
to be Japanese, which defined the lives of the traumatized
ethnic Koreans long after the massacre. Although the facts of
the massacre had been disseminated throughout the Korean
community by students and workers, what was significant in
the memory of the massacre was the repeated issue of rumors
about and persecution of Koreans in Japan even after the
Great Kantō Earthquake. The situation worsened after Japan’s
final defeat in the war and led to the rise of fears among
the ethnic Koreans of being massacred, which led to the
resurgence of ethnic Koreans fleeing as they had during and
immediately following the Kantō Earthquake.
This paper examines Kŭmo sinhwa, the collection of stories by the fifteenth-century Chosŏn philosopher and writer Kim Sisŭp (1435–1493) within the history of world literature by focusing on its unique contribution as one of the earliest forms of prose fiction and wider impact on the literary tradition of other countries. Kim’s Kŭmo sinhwa was a work of prose fiction that appeared at a relatively early period in history and an important work that reflects the principles and development of the literary tradition in Chosŏn. The stories in Kŭmo sinhwa, descriptive of the tendencies and aims of its people and filled with trenchant criticisms of social problems, hold their rightful place in the canon of fifteenth-century world literature. Kŭmo sinhwa is also notable in the influence that it has exercised on foreign literary traditions. Kim’s stories attracted a devoted readership in Japan, and they played a pivotal role in the emergence of the Japanese story collection Otogibōko.
This paper is an attempt to search for a meta-theoretical foundation to an integrated Korean studies. Without its own target and methodology, it will be difficult for Korean studies to be established as an independent academic discipline. In particular, the antagonism of the ‘Two Cultures,’ referring to the juxtaposition between humanities and the sciences, has been reproduced into a humanities-based ‘National studies’ (‘國學’) and a social science-based ‘Korean studies’ (‘韓國學’), and is acting as a factor preventing a more holistic perspective of Korean society. Such division originated from the modern academic disciplinary structure systemized at the end of the 19th century but was then deepened by the path dependency of the division system and the external dependency of the Korean academia. Under this context, this paper seeks to graft critical naturalism of Marx and Durkheim, who envisioned unified sciences at the end of the 19th century, before separation into modern academic disciplines took place, to the attempts to alleviate the ‘Two Cultures’ and thereby project an integrated Korean studies. Critical naturalism of the two thinkers – in particular, their relational social paradigm and theory of explanatory critique – proposes a third way that resolves the dichotomies between society and people, science and philosophy, nomothetic and idiographic methods, and facts and values, thus positioning itself as a paradigmatic basis for unified knowledge that overcomes the antagonism between hyper-naturalist positivism and anti-naturalist humanities. Moreover, the critical naturalism of the two provides the possibility of depth-explanatory human sciences that integrates the historicity and the scientificity of a divided society as well as abundant philosophy of science resources to promote a more complete Korean studies that encompasses both the South and the North.
Despite being located faraway from one another, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe formed an unlikely friendship during the late 1970s and 1980s. As guerilla fighters-turned postcolonial leaders, these two autocrats developed close emotional bonds built around admiration, fear, and trust. Using archival sources from the United Kingdom’s National Archives, North Korean press reports, and journalistic accounts, this article emphasizes emotions as a window into examining this Afro-Asian alliance. From wanting to emulate North Korea’s land reform program to sending a group of librarians and academics to the communist state to learn from Pyongyang’s educational system, Mugabe’s government admired the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a model of socialist development during the 1980s. Fearing instability at home, Mugabe also sought North Korea military assistance to squash his political rivals. Finally, Mugabe trusted Pyongyang as a “war-time friend” that had always been there for his African state. Thus, Zimbabwe continues to align itself in the post-Cold War era with North Korea while much of the world cuts off ties with the increasingly isolated state.
This paper offers a discussion of the March First Movement of 1919 (MFM) through the lens of moral development. Central to the discussion is the moral development of the most well-known personality associated with the MFM, Yu Kwan-sun (1902-1920). After discussing Yu’s own moral development, I connect this discussion to another important but less well-known figure associated with the MFM, Lee Sŭnghun (1864-1930). As a chief organizer of the MFM, Lee Sŭnghun made it possible for Yu Kwan-sun to both display and further develop her virtues and moral energies during the MFM. A discussion of Lee Sŭnghun also enables us to appreciate the thread of moral energy that was spinning prior the MFM, and which blossomed into the MFM in large part due to his efforts. I close by briefly discussing another participant in the MFM, Louise Yim (Im Yŏngsin) (1899-1977). Like Yu Kwan-sun, Yim was imprisoned and tortured for her participation in the MFM. Unlike Yu, however, Yim survived and dedicated her adult life to the independence of her country and the education of its citizens. A deeper consideration of the individuals involved in the MFM can connect us in the present to their virtues and moral energies. To know these individuals is to be inspired and moved by them. Thus the stories of the individual participants in the MFM remain an important resource for international ethics.
The peninsula-wide March First Movement in 1919 demonstrated the cohesiveness of the Korean people and served as the opening chapter to a new history; the entire peninsula was flooded with protests for independence, and shocked by their intensity, the Japanese colonial government engaged in indiscriminate suppression. The March First Movement propelled demonstrations to be held as well in Northern Jiāndǎo (“Puk-kando”), situated north of the Tumen River.Thousands of demonstrators gathered on March 13 in Lóngjǐng to read the Declaration of Independence as part of the demonstration. Although dozens of people were injured due to the suppression by the Chinese armed forces (seventeen were killed), numerous demonstrations (currently known are fifty-eight) took place throughout Northern Jiāndǎo. A frontier region, Northern Jiāndǎo was a unique cultural space wherein Koreans who crossed into this borderland formed their own communities; with active ethno-nationalist education and religious propaganda, the region served as a nexus of ethno-national and anti-Japanese consciousness. In addition, due to the frequent exchanges between the Korean peninsula and the Maritime Province, Lóngjǐng in particular served as the cradle of ethno-national independence movements.
After the March First People’s Uprising, writers that included progressive patriots, independence activists and the broader masses created progressive literature that reflected the heights of the Korean people’s patriotic fervor and the national anti-Japanese struggle. In contrast, bourgeois writers went down the path of becoming reactionaries as their disappointment, sense of failure, weariness and despair led them to a literary world that was at once both empty and degenerate. Unlike the progressive works that flow with our people’s strong will and invincible spirit that refused to surrender in the face of guns and knives and gave them the strong resolve to achieve independence for their country, these corrupted literary works were reactionary in the sense that they emphasized feelings of depression, despair and pessimism in their portrayal of human beings faced with misfortune. These works, which reflect historical fact but are in sharp contrast to the Chuch’e ideological direction, portrayal of art and characters, and description of life in both content and convention, show how sharp and complicated the confrontation between progressive and reactionary literature was in our country’s modern literary world in the time leading up to and following the March First People’s Uprising.
In recent years, the relations between the United States (US) and the countries of the Korean Peninsula began to play a more important role for China. With the improvement of the level of Chinese scholarship, as well as the rapid declassification of the archival material on pre-1980 Cold War history, there emerged a lot of academic publications in China on the 1970s history of US relations with the two Koreas. Although Chinese scholars took different perspectives on this subject, the mainstream view maintains that with the ease of the Cold War tensions in the Northeast Asia, the relations between the United States and the countries on the Peninsula changed in the varying degrees in the 1970s: on the one hand, although the United States and South Korea still maintained their alliance, their relationship was characterized by friction and contradictions, as the issue of the withdrawal of the US troops and the human rights debates had vividly demonstrated; on the other hand, US-North Korean relations were marked by the rapid process of bilateral relaxation. In general, Chinese academic literature on US-South Korean relations is much more profound compared to the scholarly work on American relations with North Korea. And while in recent years remarkable progress has been made by Chinese scholars, there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially in terms of broadening interdisciplinary studies and theory, utilizing multi-archival material, conducting in-depth research of the political systems, the decision-making processes in the relevant countries, as well as the politics within the lower levels of government, etc.
Mountain worship and sanshin (mountain gods) legends are intrinsic to Korean culture. Central for narratives of anti-colonial struggle and contemporary policy of North Korea, Mt. Paektu also became a symbol of Korean national identity in South Korean popular culture. This paper engages two legends sited there, suggesting that their main protagonists represent contemporary sanshin. Firstly we consider the image of Kim Chŏng-suk of North Korea, and those narratives addressing her husband, Kim Il-sŏng’s guerrilla resistance in terrains surrounding Paektu. As a bodyguard of Kim Il-sŏng and a champion of revolutionary struggle, Kim Chŏng-suk transcends her human nature, and embodies female presence on Mt. Paektu. Secondly the paper investigates narrative from contemporary South Korean practice GiCheon (氣天 Kich’ŏn), intended for physical and moral cultivation of a person, reinvented in modernity on the basis of ancient East-Asian traditions. It recounts a mythic meeting of Bodhidharma with the Immortal Woman of Heaven (天仙女 Ch’ŏnsŏnyŏ) dwelling at Mt. Paektu. The Woman of Heaven overpowers Bodhidharma in battle, challenging patriarchal gender conceptions and contesting Chinese cultural superiority. Examined together, these two narratives demonstrate common cultural background. Ancient tradition, passed down from past to present, continuously accumulates and transforms, acquiring new forms in South and North Korean contexts.
North Korean tale Ch’ŏngryongŭi poŭnn which was covered in this article is a representative folktale which was modified based on Juche Ideology. It is identical with Chinegaksi which is a representative folktale in the Korean penisula except for the ending part. The difference in the ending is whether the fortune given to the male protagonist is individual or collective in its nature. This difference seems to be due to modification with the influence of collective morality and Juche ideology of North Korea. To assess the literary value of the modified narrative, this article learned about the identity and value of this tale based on the pre-division era records. And by comparing how modern tales in South and North Korea from a similar period and status accept archetype of this tale, this article aimed to analyze the narrative value of this tale. North Korean tale Ch’ŏngryongŭi poŭnn will be regarded as an important material to understand the social culture of North Korea and an old story with the message of social integration in the future society of the unified Korean peninsula. This tale is a story about two different beings trusting each other and working toward a better future. In other words, it is a story about the value of “symbiosis” being realized in the dimension of “group.” Despite the modification intention behind this literature which is based on the North Korean view of history, this tale is an important literary work that shows what kind of life “we” as a group should pursue in a modern society filled with suspicion and fear.
The aim of this article is to shed light on the meaning of historical deaths, nowadays being mummified, memorialized or even denied, and to discuss what kind of mourning is needed for such deaths. To this end, the novella Sun-i Samch’on is used as a text, to analyze the meaning of historical deaths as depicted in the story from the viewpoint of the responsibility and commitment of those living, and also to see what possibilities there are in healing those who are in pain because of a tragic history. The article then goes onto pointing out, through the novella, a problematic way of approaching historical deaths and their mourning. Mourning for certain deaths is still impossible even though certain amount of historical justice have been attained and truths about historical deaths revealed, thanks to democratization - an important landmark in Korean modern history. The reason behind this impossibility is ‘selective mourning’, and the article proposes, as a way to overcome this problem, mourning as politics of human rights.