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Presidential Politics and National Identity in South Korea: from Park Chung-hee to Moon Jae-in. Dr John Nilsson-Wright

The project, based in part on a commission with Penguin Press, involves a book length study of the transition from authoritarian to democratic politics in the Republic of Korea. It takes as its starting point the October 1979 assassination of Park Chung-hee, and combines both historical and contemporary analysis in considering how the legacy of authoritarian government continues to influence contemporary debates over political legitimacy in South Korea today. 

Progressive-Conservative  post-1948 historical memory remains sharply contested and the December 2012 election of Park Geun-hye, the daughter of Park Chung-hee, has thrown into sharp relief many of these debates, raising in turn important questions about the efficacy of political institutions, the power of the state and the role of public protest in South Korea. Park’s impeachment in 2017 and the inauguration of the new progressive government of President Moon Jae-in has also raised important questions regarding the role of populist politics in South Korea and the sharp division between two competing views of national identity within contemporary Korea.