This study examines the eruption and growth of the candlelight rallies that resulted in such a dramatic but peaceful regime change in South Korea during 2016–2017 by focusing on the construction of a political reform agenda. While the rigged and dysfunctional administration led by President Park Geun-hye was undeniably the immediate cause of the massive uprising, this paper suggests that there were two underlying processes that transformed citizen reaction to the eccentric corruption scandal into a broad and fundamental critique of Korean society. Before the eruption of the popular protest, civil society has been actively problematizing the soaring inequalities and a democratic reversal taking place during the reigns of successive conservative governments. Following the ignition of the candlelight rallies, the protests turned into a political arena where diverse imaginings about to-be-restored-democracy were articulated and where addressing socioeconomic inequalities was part of the political reform agenda. Informed by a social movement approach that highlights the interactive process of meaning-construction by movement actors, this paper maintains that it is crucial to uncover the processes through which civil society and political elites articulate issues of inequality to turn them into a central public discourse and a democratic agenda.
The purpose of this study is to examine the determinants of citizens’ participation in the Candlelight Protests that took place in Korea in 2016–2017. These protests were unprecedented in terms of their non-violent nature, their political consequences, the number of participants, and the breadth of the participants’ socioeconomic and political backgrounds. Employing a two-step empirical strategy that involved logit analysis and structural equation modeling, this study attempted to determine the significant causal paths to citizen intentions to participate in the protests. The empirical findings of this study also indicate that intention to join the protests was based on a multi-layered structure. The empirical analysis confirmed that injustice, identity, efficacy, and anger significantly influenced citizen intentions to participate in the candlelight protests. The study argues that in examining why unaffiliated citizens joined the protests, the existing literature has tended to pay disproportionate attention to narrow economic interests. The Korean Candlelight Protests elucidate the significance of political solidarity based on the participants’ faith in democracy.
This paper examines how South Korea’s 2016 corruption scandal and subsequent presidential impeachment affected voter decisions in that country’s 19th presidential election. Both aggregate and individual-level analyses indicate that the landslide defeat of the country’s conservative party does not portend a fundamental shift in voter-party alignment. At the aggregate level, we find that the normal vote share of the conservative party in the 19th presidential election was similar to that of the 18th. At the individual level, an analysis of the 2017 Korean Election Panel Studies data demonstrates that regional and generational cleavages are influential factors in vote switching by majorparty supporters. Aside from their attitudes regarding the impeachment, those who changed their votes from conservative parties generally hold similar issue preferences to those who did not change. Therefore, once the political salience of the impeachment issue wanes, it is questionable whether the current disunity will end.
Using a synthesized model with system- and individual-level variables, this article explains how policy makers in the Park Geun-hye administration produced a series of abrupt foreign policy decisions on the issues of comfort women, the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and THAAD deployment. The article finds that President Park and her aides were confronted with external challenges that encompassed increased DPRK’s provocations, China’s lukewarm responses to those provocative actions, and US pressure to strengthen the US-ROK-Japan security triangle. In responding to such challenges, the ROK’s decision makers abruptly made foreign policy decisions which had many negative consequences due to the lack of institutionalized discussions among policy makers, their insensitivity to public opinion, and the influence of a secret advisory group led by Choi Soon-sil.
This article explores the reading culture of anti-communist adult comic books as a unique sub-culture of 1970s South Korea which arose out of the confluence of anticommunist discourse and an explosion of sexualized content in popular culture. Anticommunist adult comic books appealed to publishers wanting to follow government policies of anti-communism and counter-espionage, writers desiring to create successful popular works, and readers seeking erotic content. As a result, authors portrayed female spies as sources of amusement and appealed to readers’ orientalist imaginations and voyeuristic desires. Comic books about Kim Il-sung featured rape scenes under the pretext of exposing the dictator’s evil deeds. In the process, Kim Il-sung became an object of admiration and envy, delivering vicarious satisfaction to readers. By illustrating the evil dictator as a phallic symbol, these books created a character worthy of male readers’ empathy, including teenagers. These narratives were produced and circulated during the post-war Yushin regime at time when authorities were pushing ethical puritanism and anti-communism despite the explosion of sexual themes in popular culture. Moreover, this essay highlights how anti-communist adult comic books reveal the possibility for popular culture to be produced and consumed in ways at odds with the desires of authorities.
Existing literature reports that children of Korean immigrants in the United States have strong achievement-oriented values, which facilitates upward mobility and assimilation. However, researchers generally do not examine how their marginalized status as children of non-white immigrants shapes their perceptions of career motivations and success. Drawing upon in-depth interviews with 69 adult children of Korean immigrants in the United States, this study explores the situated meanings that they attribute to their mobility experiences. Findings reveal that participants verbally endorse the significance of group-specific cultural values, but they relate their perceptions of mobility to their disadvantaged status. They see their parents’ struggles as immigrants as a motivation to seek upward mobility. Yet their status as children of non-white immigrants leads them to have an undervalued understanding of career motivations and individual skills. Findings suggest that race and immigration have an impact on the understanding of social mobility among children of non-white immigrants.
This paper examines the literary thinking of the Nietzschean-influenced community Guinhoe and its central concern, Poetry and Novel (1936), a magazine published by a coterie of writers. Guinhoe was a unique community that chose to be considered as non-group, a paradoxical self-definition that reflected the concepts of the group and its members. This particular writing community presented itself through ideas, writings and literary concepts based upon Nietzsche’s concept of “Eternal Recurrence.” The deconstruction and denial of themselves as a group through their writing allows the Guinhoe community to continue to exist. There is no objective shape, only activity and process, and in this sense the community considers the action of writing itself as literature. In other words, the community is writing itself endlessly by repeating the action of writing.