Sewol Activism and the Shifting Tenors of Political Action in South Korea

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


The sinking of the South Korean ferry, MV Sewol, on April 16th, 2014, claimed 304 lives, 250 of whom were high school students on a fieldtrip to Jeju Island.

The Disaster, broadcasted real-time, incited a widespread movement calling for remembrance, investigation, and accountability. Bringing together bereaved families, progressive activists, and citizens previously far from political, Sewol activism has witnessed mobilization of a scale unprecedented for a post-disaster activism in Korea.

This lecture considers Sewol activism within the broader lineage of South Korean social movements, through particular attention to its key tactics and repertoires.

Focusing on the heterogeneity of its constituents, the softer, cultural modes of resistance through which the movement is diffused, and how the boundary between ‘citizens’ and ‘activists’ is blurred, the lecture seeks to refine our understanding of what it means to ‘act’ in the political arena in contemporary South Korea.
Period6 Nov 2023
Held atUniversity of Oslo, Norway