ISSN : 0023-3900
South Korea has witnessed major social movements about every 20 years. In the period since liberation in 1945, the April 19 Revolution of 1960 and the 1980 Gwangju People’s Resistance significantly impacted modern Korean social movements. Alongside with rapid industrialization, Korean democratization has been touted repeatedly as the major South Korean achievement since the 1960s. From the latter half of the 20th century, Korean democratization movements continuously focused their attentions on the twin themes of national unification and class problems. Since the demise of the democratization movement, Korean social movements have faced new challenges and tended to differentiate into various areas. The successors to Korean social movements face the task of pursuing change in totally different conditions than before. A series of candlelight vigils have developed activism at a fundamentally different level so as to change the definition of social movement itself. Even as the younger generation plays the central role in raising the questions of these movements, the South Korean population composition is paradoxically aging. Most importantly, all of these issues and challenges are not limited to Korea as before, but are also closely linked to the issues facing other regions and countries, both neighboring and remote. Outlining the trajectories of the twin issues of national and class problems that post-liberation social movements have pursued, this essay focuses on underclass and women’s issues as two particularly important areas of focus that have lasting significance for the future of Korean social movements.