This paper focuses on a chain of closely knit social phenomena in the post-IMF Korean society that has complex and interesting effects on Korean women and their responses, both passive and active. The terrain for these phenomena is permeated by neoliberal governmentality. First, the paper presents a review of theoretical frameworks based on Foucault’s later works on biopower and governmentality, especially his interpretations and criticisms of American neoliberalism. Foucault’s framework seems to work quite efficiently in treating the phenomena discussed here, but leaves something to be desired. Especially conspicuous gaps can be seen in its gender blindness. This paper argues that these gaps can be more or less remedied by resorting to works by other feminists and Foucauldians. Next, general descriptions of gender issues in the labor market and social welfare system are given to show that the post-IMF Korean society has been transforming to a neoliberal system. To reveal the salient features of this transition, the phenomena of increasingly booming body care and cosmetic surgery, private marriage matching service, and efforts of students both in secondary schools and colleges to raise their human capital for better jobs in future are introduced and interpreted from the aforementioned theoretical viewpoint.
Alternative medicine is popular in Korea, as it is in Western societies. This paper aims to review the current state of alternative medicine, especially the growth and division of oriental medicine. In the modernization period, practitioners of oriental medicine were divided into a majority of regular oriental medical doctors (OMDs) and a minority group mainly composed of acupuncturists. OMDs have professionalized their work, while acupuncturists have seen their social status fall. OMDs promoted the professionalization of their medical practices and monopolization of knowledge. In contrast, acupuncturists have taken a more popularist approach, advocating low-tech therapy and sharing knowledge among people. Recently, they have advocated a popular health movement by training lay acupuncturists and providing free services. This paper discusses the factors that cause this two-tier approach and the limits of professionalization and the popular health movements.
Since the Hwang scandal, bioethics has come to occupy a significant place on the public agenda in South Korea. The South Korean state has expressed oftenconflicting interests in encouraging stem cell research and the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) industry to save the country while also introducing ethical regulations in conformity with “global standards.” This paper examines how the discourse of national population crisis has framed policy concerns and public debate on bioethical issues in contemporary South Korea, and investigates the changing biopolitics of South Korea through debates on the regulation of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and surrogacy. In this process, the paper takes the technologies of reproduction as its main focus of investigation. As a potent symbol of both the past and future, reproduction has become one of the most contested topics in contemporary politics, connecting individual lives and collective entities. Starting with a short summary of the Bioethics Law in South Korea, this paper will examine the debate on legal regulation of assisted reproduction and the controversial issue of surrogacy in the context of the depopulation crisis.
The festive mass rally that took place in South Korea during the 2002 World Cup was more than a sporting event. As a way of understanding the national frenzy and people’s experiences during the World Cup, we interpret the mass festive rally as a form of social performance. In doing so, we portray this sporting event as a national stage, with Korean supporters as performers and the worldwide audience as spectators. This study uses the term “nation-ness” to encapsulate the idea of nation that links such disparate phenomena as nation, nationalism, and nationality. Through the examination of various performances within the rally, as well as of various reactions by the governmental, corporate, and public, it reveals that the spectacle contained three dimensions of performance: evolving processes, a betwixt-and-between, and everyday life. Attention to the performative aspects of the event contributes to illuminating this phenomenon as a set of evolving processes that are closely tied to contemporary South Korean society. Through analyzing South Koreans’ performance in the World Cup, we suggest that nation-ness was performed as cultural practices that were utilized for individual revelation, and as expressions of nationalism interwoven with globalism.
Daejangchon, a village community of Japanese immigrants in colonial Korea, was unique in that it was built in rural area, unlike other Japanese communities in Korea which were typically built near cities. The large-scale development projects of the Japanese colonizers, such as Hosokawa Farm in Daejangchon, transformed a small village into a modern “town.” The radical changes brought to Daejangchon by development resulted in alienation from surrounding villages. The failure of Daejangchon to promote substantial growth for Korean peasants made clear the failure of naisen ittai (Japan and Korea as one body), the professed assimilation policy of Japan. The rapid decline of Daejangchon after liberation proved that the colonial development did not encourage substantial progress in conditions for local Koreans and was unwelcomed by the locals.
There are two major currents in the field of social sciences in regards to tradition and modernity. The first one, which is accepted as an irrefutable theory, is centered on the thesis that modernity destroys tradition. The second one, asserted by Hobsbawm, is based on the thesis that modernity invents tradition. Although they apparently oppose each other, they share the same presupposition, since both of them perceive tradition as a substance. This paper examines, in this regard, a third way of perceiving tradition, which is to look at it from the perspective of the theory of tradition asserted by Kim Su-yeong. For this, I will restructure his theory of tradition referring to concept of “specter” created by Derrida and also concept of “rhizome” created by Deleuze and Guattari. I will also examine the symbol of the symbolic space of bridge where tradition and modernity communicate each other. Through this process, I attempt to revive the possibility of thinking the tradition in a new perspective.