Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations

Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations

DANIELLE L. CHUBB
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/chub16136
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  • Book Info
    Contentious Activism and Inter-Korean Relations
    Book Description:

    In South Korea, the contentious debate over relations with the North transcends traditional considerations of physical and economic security, and political activists play a critical role in shaping the discussion of these issues as they pursue the separate yet connected agendas of democracy, human rights, and unification.

    Providing international observers with a better understanding of policymakers' management of inter-Korean relations, Danielle L. Chubb traces the development of various policy disputes and perspectives from the 1970s through South Korea's democratic transition. Focusing on four case studies -- the 1980 Kwangju uprising, the June 1987 uprising, the move toward democracy in the 1990s, and the decade of "progressive" government that began with the election of Kim Dae Jung in 1997 -- she tracks activists' complex views on reunification along with the rise and fall of more radical voices encouraging the adoption of a North Korean--style form of socialism. While these specific arguments have dissipated over the years, their vestiges can still be found in recent discussions over how to engage with North Korea and bring security and peace to the peninsula.

    Extending beyond the South Korean example, this examination shows how the historical trajectory of norms and beliefs can have a significant effect on a state's threat perception and security policy. It also reveals how political activists, in their role as discursive agents, play an important part in the creation of the norms and beliefs directing public debate over a state's approach to the ethical and practical demands of its foreign policy.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53632-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. NOTE ON ROMANIZATION AND CITATIONS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-8)

    The Joint Security Area (JSA) lies within the ambit of the “truce village” P’anmunjŏm, just 55 kilometers north of Seoul and 215 kilometers south of Pyongyang. Here South Korean and North Korean soldiers stand, face to face, guarding their respective territories. These young men share a common language and a common history yet represent two societies whose ideological structures seem to inhibit the creation of a shared future. So here they are stationed, as enemies in a war that ended not with peace but with the signing of a temporary armistice that has yet to be replaced with a more...

  7. 1 POLITICAL ACTIVISM, DISCURSIVE POWER, AND NORM NEGOTIATION
    (pp. 9-46)

    The pursuit of justice is at the very core of inter-Korean relations. South Koreans have long understood relations with their northern neighbor to involve far more than a simple security stand-off between two warring states. In a very real sense, the political is often the personal in Korea. Debates over inter-Korean relations must be understood in this context: there is a deep sense of responsibility and obligation that permeates the discursive realm, and policy arguments are rarely made in purely pragmatic terms. The goal of unification has for decades existed at the heart of all South Korean debate over how...

  8. 2 POLITICAL ACTIVISM UNDER YUSHIN AND THE KWANGJU UPRISING, MAY 1980
    (pp. 47-78)

    A fraught security environment characterized by Cold War politics has dominated every aspect of South Korea’s political arena, from the foundation of the South Korean state in 1948 to the end of the Cold War. It was under these conditions that human rights and democracy advocates struggled to accommodate their arguments within the official discourse mandated by the state during the 1970s and 1980s. This chapter discusses the influence that Park Chung Hee’s tight-fisted authoritarian rule, especially under the Yushin constitution, had on dissident civil society actors. Physical manifestations of this influence can be witnessed in the networking choices made...

  9. 3 FROM KWANGJU TO DEMOCRACY, 1980–1987
    (pp. 79-118)

    For South Koreans the 1980s began ominously. Far from repressing prodemocratic sentiments, however, the horrors of the Kwangju massacre gave political activism a greater sense of purpose. The path toward democratization was yet a long and hazardous one, and little could the citizens of Kwangju have foreseen the enormous changes that would subsequently ripple across South Korean society. Indeed, just as the activists themselves did not predict the major shifts in dissident style and substance that were to result from Kwangju, neither did the regime fully appreciate the support for democracy that lay latent among the South Korean middle class....

  10. 4 SOUTH KOREA IN TRANSITION, 1987–1997
    (pp. 119-152)

    A poem by Ch’oe Yŏngmi, a female student activist, reflects some of the conflicting feelings experienced by South Korean political dissidents, as they headed into the 1990s.

    Of course, I know

    I liked the demonstrators more than the demonstrations,

    and the feel of the barroom more than the booze,

    and that when I was lonely, I enjoyed love songs in a low voice

    more than all the combative ditties that began with “Comrades!”

    And this makes no difference at all.

    The party was over.

    . . .

    But I know

    that someone will stay here until it’s all over, and...

  11. 5 A NEW ERA OF INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS, 1998–2007
    (pp. 153-196)

    Aesop’s fable “The North Wind and the Sun” came to symbolize the new Kim Dae Jung government’s policy toward North Korea, which, advocating gentle persuasion over brute force, became known as the “Sunshine policy.” Whereas in the past South Korean governments had been reluctant to associate themselves too closely with the bellicose and unpredictable left-wing regimes of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-Il, President Kim Dae Jung declared that the best approach toward North Korea was one of patient conciliation: cooperation and economic interaction became the main tools through which the government would endeavor to decrease tensions on the Korean...

  12. CONCLUSION: INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS FROM A SOUTH KOREAN PERSPECTIVE
    (pp. 197-208)

    Policy making over inter-Korean relations is about more than strategic calculation: normative considerations play a key role in debates over how this difficult relationship should best be conducted. The central purpose of this book has been to identify and examine discourse over inter-Korean relations in the South Korean political context in order to better understand its enabling and constraining elements. The book has focused upon one central research question: how do we explain the particular nature of South Korea’s approach to inter-Korean relations? To address this question I constructed a conceptual framework for understanding the central norms guiding debate over...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 209-246)
  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 247-262)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 263-272)