2 The socio-economic background of the Gwangju Uprising

Ahn Jean

Introduction

It has been more than 26 years since the Gwangju Uprising of May 1980. Though the uprising failed at the time, it was an historical turning point for both the ruling classes and the majority of the people of Korea, and has been a driving force in the development of Korean society. Where, then, did the power come from to resist the over-powering armed might of the government’s military forces? An explanation of its direct and short-term causes cannot fully answer this question. In order to grasp its causes and characteristics, the uprising should not be viewed from the perspective that it was a single event that took place in only ten days, but should be understood in ...

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