Join the ANU Korea Institute to explore the recent election in South Korea.
Speaker: Associate Professor Hyung-A Kim, Korea Politics and History ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
Riding on the historic anti-Park “Candlelight Revolution” as the biggest beneficiary of the dramatic demise of former conservative president Park Geun-hye, the newly elected South Korean left-wing president Moon Jae-in seems to have raised high hopes and much expectation, especially among many of the younger generations who are mostly supporters of Moon. Moon’s triumph with 41 percent of the vote, however, was not overwhelming, given that six out of every ten South Korean voters did not vote for him and about 23 percent of eligible voters gave-up their vote altogether. Many conservative-leaning voters, in particular, are unsure about Moon’s ability, especially to deal with national security in the context of North Korean nuclear threats. In fact, the division between the so-called anti-Park progressive-leaning younger generations and the pro-Park conservative older generation in Korean society has never been so severe as now. In spite of this generational and ideological conflict, Moon’s rise to the presidency has set a new milestone in Korea’s democratic development. In his inauguration speech, Moon promised that he would open a “new era of Gwanghwamun Presidency.” What will his Gwanghwamun presidency mean? Focusing on the outcome of the May 9 presidential election, this talk will discuss how one should interpret Moon’s Gwanghwamun presidency.
Kim is the author of Korea’s Development under Park Chung Hee: Rapid Industrialization, 1961-79 (RoutledgeCurzon 2004), and principal editor of Reassessing the Park Chung Hee Era, 1961-1979: Development, Political Thought, Democracy and Cultural Influence, Seattle: A Center for Korea Studies Publication, University of Washington Press, 2011. Her recent publications include, “Industrial Warriors: South Korea’s First Generation of Industrial Workers in Post-Developmental Korea, Asian Studies Review, (2013) and “President Roh Moo-Hyun’s Last Interview and the Roh Moo-Hyun Phenomenon in South Korea”, Journal of Contemporary Asia, (Dec. 2016). Her monograph entitled, Korean Skilled Workers: From Industrial Warriors to Labor Aristocracy since 1972 is expected to be published later this year.