The Persistence of Cold War Regime: The Discourse “Chongbuk Chwap’a” in South Korea

How might one explain the rise of the discourse of “chongbuk chwap’a” (a term commonly translated as “pro-North leftists”) given South Korea’s recent history of the democratization movement and the transition from a series of authoritarian regimes to a parliamentary democracy? In what ways does this discourse differ from the anticommunism of the earlier period? What are some historical and political implications of the discourse in contemporary South Korea? These are some of the questions explored in this presentation. Professor Namhee Lee situates this discourse broadly within the context of the persistence of the Cold war regime on the Korean peninsular and discourse of failure of revolutionary experiences worldwide.

Namhee Lee is an associate professor of Korean history at University of California Los Angeles and her publications include “The Making of Minjung: Democracy and the Politics of Representation in South Korea” (Cornell University Press, 2007). Lee is working on a book project entitled “Social Memory and Public History in South Korea,” which explores production of historical knowledge outside academic institutions.