A Skeptic’s View of the Korean Student Movement

Student protest has a long tradition in Korea, in keeping with the Confucian idea of students as the conscience of society. In 1960 the student movement was a major factor in the overthrow of Pres. Syngman Rhee. After 1960, the student movement moved considerably to the left of its earlier liberal-democratic position. With much righteous indignation, the students claimed that the system was corrupt beyond reform, and they pointed to the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee and Park’s Yushin Constitution, in which he proclaimed himself “president for life,” the slaughter of hundreds of citizens in the 1980 Kwangju Uprising and

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