Abstract

This study examines the meanings behind the 2002 ch'oppul siwi—candlelight vigils—held in South Korea to commemorate and protest the deaths of two schoolgirls struck near Seoul by a US military vehicle. These vigils have been interpreted either as postmodern consumption of resistance by younger Koreans or as anti-American protest against the big brother attitude of the United States toward South Korea. My group interviews in 2006 with Korean youth reveals how the meaning of the vigils emerges from the confluence of South Korean youth's changing national identity and shared corporeal experiences. Some recollected the vigils primarily through the language of corporeal experience, associating the vigils with the 2002 World Cup or familiar high school training camps. Others come to think about the vigils along ideological lines. These various narratives signal the erosion of South Korea's previous movement repertoire, which had accompanied the clash of state and oppositional ideologies and demanded hypersensitivity to the ideological ramifications of one's actions. I argue that the intense corporeal experiences of the safe, yet potent, crowds at the vigils also served to supplant the fear associated with protests in the former authoritarian era, creating a space for a new form of post-ideological social movement.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 329-350
Launched on MUSE
2012-11-29
Open Access
No
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