Organized Panel Session
South Korea transitioned from an authoritarian to a democratic political system in 1987, but protest against institutionalized forms of cultural repression took shape in various sectors both before and after that monumental mass movement. This cross-disciplinary panel explores the role that students and intellectuals played in driving anti-institutional practices. Rather than drawing upon antithetical oppositions between elite and popular or between conservative and liberal, this panel demonstrates how college-educated youth and intellectuals actively re-negotiated dichotomies of such values through the very means of their craft—be it in music, literature, or philosophy. Eunyong Song explores the yearning for the 1960s’ Euro-American “counter-culture” in literary works of the early 1970s, drawing out their confined status as elites living under an oppressive fascist regime. Rosaleen Rhee examines the popularity of p'okŭ music among college-educated youths in the mid-1970s and provides a reading of it as a contested site of elitism and dissidence by tracing its origins to the North American Folk Revival. Susan Hwang examines the troubled alliance between the professional poets and laborer-poets in poetry’s boom of the 1980s, which both facilitated and constrained the poems’ capacity as literature of resistance. Shinjung Nam explores the shift from Marxist to French contemporary philosophy in the 1990s among a para-academic community of intellectuals and their attempt to liberalize philosophical practice by appealing to its popular audience. Together, these papers demonstrate how the anti-establishment practices of students and intellectuals in South Korea hinged upon their ambivalent positions as cultural elites and political dissidents.