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About the talk:
From the 1919 March First Movement, the 1960 April Revolution, the 1987 June Democracy Movement, to what is now known as the 2016 “Candlelight Revolution” which led the resignation of President Park, Seoul’s squares and streets served as the main stage for millions of South Koreans forming new alliances to demand political and social changes.
This talk revisits one of the first times where the streets of Seoul were engulfed by mass demonstrators demanding political and social reforms in 1898. Having begun with a public forum held in a newly opened park on the outskirts of the city (Independence Park), demonstrators forced their way into the heart of the capital by taking to the streets, squares, and other public places. Here, the demonstrators deemed it necessary to come together to take public spaces inside the city walls to make themselves visible and their voices heard. This talk highlights how conflicts over the rights of speech and assembly between the government and demonstrators resolved itself into contestations over public space in the city. Through this discussion, this talk thinks about the role of public spaces for political participation in modern Korean history.
About the speaker:
Sinwoo Lee is a historian of Modern Korea and East Asia whose research interests lie in the fields of urban environmental history, border and boundary studies, and memory studies. Lee is currently working on a book manuscript titled City Beyond the Walls: Urban Politics and the Making of Modern Seoul, 1864-1914, which explores the importance of the destruction of Seoul’s city walls—both as physical and symbolic boundaries—in the city’s transition to modernity from the late Chosŏn to the early colonial period. Lee received her Ph.D. in Korean History from UCLA, and teaches a wide range of courses on East Asia at the California State University, Chico.