7 The experience of the May 18 Uprising and the communal imagination

Jung Keun-sik

The 1980s in South Korea was an era of ideologies when diverse movements, expressed with terms such as “people,” “democracy,” or “nation,” were experimented with and advocated, as well as an era of social movements, much as the so-called Sturm und Drang period, where reality itself was changed by the collective practices of these ideologies. The starting point for all this was “Gwangju in 1980.”

After the brutal suppression of the Gwangju Uprising by government forces in May of 1980, most social movements fell into a period of stunned silence. As time went on, however, many of them revived, claiming to have inherited the spirit of “Gwangju in 1980,” and social ...

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