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E. II.4. Korea (South), Demanding Democracy, 1979-80 and 1986-87

Volume One -> E. Resisting Oppressive, Dictatorial, Military or Authoritarian Rule -> E. II. Asia (and Australasia) -> E. II.4. Korea (South), Demanding Democracy, 1979-80 and 1986-87

There was a history of unarmed resistance by the Koreans to Japanese occupation during the first half of the 20th century. After the division of Korea in 1945, the death and destruction of the Korean War 1950-53, and Korea’s continuing role as a front line in the Cold War, with US troops guarding the armistice line, South Korea was subject to the dictatorship of the western-backed Syngman Rhee until 1960. The popular desire for democracy, demonstrated in mass protests in which students were prominent, brought down the dictatorship. However, it was replaced by a new military regime under Park Chung Hee from 1961-1979.

There were renewed student protests in 1979, and a 1980 student revolt in Kwangju was brutally repressed by the army, which killed up to 2,000 people and arrested thousands more. General Chun Doo Hwan won the 1981 elections, and students continued to protest, often resorting to firebombing government buildings and fighting the police. But in 1986 students began to mobilize worker and rural support and a dozen students set fire to themselves (an act of traditional remonstrance to unjust rulers). Widespread opposition persuaded Chun not to stand for a second term in 1987, and led to gradual democratization of the previously authoritarian regime.

Clark, Donald N., The Kwangju Uprising: Shadows over the Regime in South Korea, Boulder CO, Westview Press, 1987, pp. 101

Includes bibliography pp. 95-96.

Cotton, James, Politics and Policy in the New Korean State, New York, St. Martins Press, 1995, pp. 246

Proceedings of conference in Melbourne, 1992.

Jung, Kim Dae, Interview: Democracy and dissidence in South Korea, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 8, issue 2, 1985, pp. 181-192

Kim Dae Jung had been a leading figure in the Democratic Opposition of South Korea since 1971, when he ran for president against the dictator Park Chung Hee, was imprisoned and then exiled. He gave this interview in November 1984, setting out his policies and hopes, when planning to return to join in the struggle against the dictatorship.

Kluver, Alan R., Student movements in Confucian society, In DeGroot, Gerald J., Student Protest: The Sixties and After London, Addison Wesley, , 1998, pp. 219-231

Discusses role of self-immolation by Korean protesters.

Lim, Kim Chong, Political Participation in Korea: Democracy, Mobilization and Stability, Santa Barbara CA and Oxford, Clio Books, 1980, pp. 238

Includes chapters on student activism in 1960 and 1971.

Shinil, Kim, South Korea, In Altbach, Philip G., Student Political Activism: An International Reference Handbook Westport CT, Greenwood Press, , 1989, pp. 173-178

Shorrock, Tim, The struggle for democracy in South Korea in the 1980s and the rise of anti-Americanism, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 8, issue 4 (October), 1986, pp. 1195-1218

Analyses the Park Chung Hee regime, looks back to the Kwangju massacre and role of the US, and comments on the student and worker demonstrations in the spring of 1986 and US/Korean government attempts to channel unrest from the streets into electoral activity. Refers to his earlier article ‘Korea: Stirrings of resistance’, The Progressive, February 1986.