The Korean Peninsula in Flux: South Korea’s ‘Candlelight Revolution’ and Its Impact


Thursday, October 4, 2018, 4:30pm to 6:00pm


Belfer Case Study Room (S020), CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Kim Koo Forum on Korea Current Affairs

Paik Nak-chung
Professor Emeritus of English, Seoul National University

Paik Nak-chung, literary critic, editor, and Professor Emeritus of English at Seoul National University, has authored many volumes of literary and social criticism, several of them translated into Japanese and Chinese; an English collection, The Division System in Crisis: Essays on Contemporary Korea, was published by the University of California Press in 2011.

He has long been active in South Korea's democracy movement and in civilian efforts for inter-Korean reconciliation. Paik's teaching career was interrupted when the government expelled him from the university in 1974 for advocating constitutional reform, allowing him to return only in 1980 after the death of President Park Chung-Hee; and later in the same year the military regime of General Chun Du-hwan closed down (until 1988) the literary and intellectual journal Paik had founded in 1966. From 2005 to 2009 Paik served two consecutive terms as the South Korean Chair of the All-Korean Committee for Implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration, and visited North Korea several times. From 2009 to 2016 he was co-chair (now co-chair emeritus) of Korea Peace Forum. He stepped down as editor of The Quarterly Changbi after fifty years (with some interruptions) and is editor emeritus.

After finishing high school in Seoul, he graduated from Brown University in the United States in 1959, and holds a PhD in English Literature from Harvard University. In 1998-99 he was Harvard-Yenching Visiting Research Scholar at Harvard University.

Chaired by Carter Eckert, Yoon Se Young Professor of Korean History, Harvard University

Introduced by Edward J. Baker, Associate Director (Retired), Harvard-Yenching Institute; Member, Committee of Special Advisors, Korea Institute

The talk will address the following topics (among others).

1) Recent developments in and around the Korean Peninsula.

2) Inter-Korean reconciliation and U.S.-DPRK rapprochement as a consequence of the ‘candlelight revolution’ in South Korea.

3) In what sense the candlelight demonstrations of 2016-17 and their aftermath may be termed a revolution.

4) Implications for the world-system.

The Korea Institute acknowledges the generous support of the Kim Koo Foundation.