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South Korean Democracy: Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising

Editor: Georgy Katsiaficas, Na Kahn-chae
Author: , , , , , , ,
Publisher: , 2006
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

This new book offers a retrospective appraisal of the Gwangju Uprising by academics, activists and artists from Gwangju, Korea.

In 1980, South Koreans took to the streets to demand democracy. When the military threatened brutal suppression of the popular movement, only in Gwangju did people refuse to submit. After horrific bloodshed, the citizens of Gwangju drove the military out of the city and held their liberated space for a week. As a “beautiful community” emerged, newspapers were published, hundreds of thousands of people congregated in popular assemblies, and the city’s life gave new meaning to democracy.

Although crushed by overwhelming military force, Gwangju’s example inspired the eventual overthrow of the military dictatorship and ushered in a new democratic wave in East Asia. Providing a detailed analysis of the events of the Gwangju uprising, this new volume traces the birth of South Korean democracy in Gwangju’s stubborn refusal to accept life without freedom. The book also focuses on the socio-economic background, the role of women in the uprising, issues of collective identity and the international significance of the revolt.

Scholars and researchers of South Asian politics, social movements, history, democracy and development studies will find this volume to be of keen interest.

Georgy Katsiaficas is Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Na Kahn-chae is Professor of Sociology at Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Korea.


  • Remembering the Gwangju Uprising | GEORGY KATSIAFICAS
  • The socio-economic background of the Gwangju Uprising | AHN JEAN
  • Collective action and organization in the Gwangju Uprising | NA KAHN-CHAE
  • Women’s experiences in the Gwangju Uprising: Participation and exclusion | KANG HYUN-AH
  • The Gwangju Uprising in woodblock prints | HONG SUNG-DAM
  • The Gwangju People’s Uprising and the construction of collective identity: A study of the Fighters’ Bulletin | KIM YOUNG-KHEE AND HAN SUN
  • The shadow of the Gwangju Uprising in the democratization of Korean politics | YONG CHEOL KIM
  • The experience of the May 18 Uprising and the communal imagination | JUNG KEUN-SIK
  • Photographs from the Uprising | The May 18 Memorial Foundation
  • A new perspective on the Gwangju People’s Resistance Struggle: 1980-1997 | NA KAHN-CHAE
  • Comparing the Paris Commune and the Gwangju Uprising | GEORGY KATSIAFICAS

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* Where the book is available from a number of sources, they are prioritised as follows: (1) Amazon UK site, or for the more recent uploads (2) Amazon US site (3) Other sites in US or Europe, including second-hand outlets (4) LTI Korea, where the title is advertised as available from there (5) Onlines stores in Korea. Links to and Amazon UK site contain an affiliate code which, should you make a purchase, gives a small commission to LKL at no additional cost to you.