Democracy and Social Change: A History of South Korean Student Movements, 1980-2000

South Korea experienced a transition from authoritarianism to democracy in the late 1980s. Throughout the 1980s, hundreds of university students in South Korea went to factories and shantytowns to organize the working class and the urban poor. While politicizing almost all issues extant in South Korean society, they mobilized thousands of students into formidable street demonstrations that eventually forced the Chun administration (1980-1987) to carry out sweeping political reforms. The book explains the emergence of the radical student movement and the subsequent political transformation in South Korea in the last two decades. It pays particular attention to the various organizing methods, the patterns of changing ideologies, and political tactics of the student movement. With extensive interview materials taken from former student activists, the book provides insightful insiders' knowledge of what had happened in the student movement. By situating the South Korean student movement in its broad socio-historical contexts, it investigates the interplay of structural forces and agency to explain the political transformation of South Korea between 1980 and 2000.