The 1970s and 1980s have long been recognised as pivotal decades in the political and economic history of South Korea, with much research into these decades focusing on authoritarian politics and the struggle for democratization. Yet, despite the political significance of this period, less attention has been paid to questions of popular culture, literature, and art that might not only expand our understanding of the state and social movements in the 1970s and 1980s, but might also reveal the cultural legacies for contemporary South Korea. This exciting roundtable invites Youngju Ryu, editor of Cultures of Yusin (University of Michigan Press, 2018), and Sunyoung Park, editor of Revisiting Minjung (University of Michigan Press, 2019), to discuss their recent edited volume publications and the significance of exploring culture amid periods of political upheaval.
Youngju Ryu is Associate Professor of Modern Korean Literature at the University of Michigan, and author of Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016). She is a specialist of modern Korean literature with research interests in politics and aesthetics of protest, cultures of authoritarianism, and mediatized publics in modern Korea.
Sunyoung Park is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. In addition to numerous translations, ranging from colonial-era short stories to science fiction, Sunyoung Park is the author of The Proletarian Wave: Literature and Leftist Culture in Colonial Korea 1910-1945 (Harvard University Asia Center, 2015). Her research focuses on the literary and cultural history of modern Korea from the varying perspectives of world literature, postcolonial theory, cultural studies, transnational feminism, and Marxism.