Igniting the Internet: South Korea’s Internet-Born Protests and Popular Politics, 2002 to 2017

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Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 20172:00PM - 4:00PM108N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place
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In late 2016, South Korea saw a series of Internet-born street protests demanding that then-President Park Geun-hye step down, eventually leading to her impeachment in March of 2017. These candlelight protests were only the newest iteration of the youth-driven candlelight protest that originated online in 2002, which has now become a standard repertoire for activism. Drawing on Kang’s recent book Igniting the Internet (2016), this presentation attends to the cultural dynamics that allowed the Internet to so rapidly bring issues to public attention and exert influence on South Korea’s domestic and international politics. Kang will discuss the cultural dynamics of online politics and media-driven popular politics, situating them in the legacies of South Korea’s authoritarian and post-authoritarian eras. This presentation will consider the interplay among local historical context, structural variation across different societies, and the role of chance in the dynamics of mass movements and the “cultural ignition process”—speculating about the future of Internet-driven youth activism in South Korea and beyond.

Jiyeon Kang is an associate professor of Communication Studies and Korean Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research interests include South Korean social movements, Internet activism, youth culture, globalization, and the mobility of Asian university students.


Martina Mimica


Jiyeon Kang
Associate Professor, Communication and Korean Studies, University of Iowa

Yoonkyung Lee
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto


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