To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
In Session: Rethinking the Cold War amid the Global Pandemic: Literature, Film, and Media of and beyond Divided Korea
2: Cold War Epistemology in the Cultural Politics of 1970s South Korea: Focusing on the Discourses Surrounding Youth Culture
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
University of California, Riverside, United States
This paper explores how Cold War colonialism worked in the cultural politics of divided South Korea by examining the emergence of a new popular culture in the 1970s. During the Yusin period, well-educated, urban young people set a new trend, named “youth culture,” of Americanized cultural tastes, which included long hairstyles for men and the preference for draught beer, and led to the unprecedented success of folk music and the film Heavenly Homecoming to Stars (Yi Jang-ho, 1974). With its vast popularity, debates on youth culture became heated in magazines, newspapers, and campus journals. Participants in the debates, including intellectuals, artists, and college students, variously considered youth culture as a counterculture, a culture of conformity, and as anti-national cultural decadence. Regardless of their discursive positions, however, they shared a view about the backwardness of Korean youth culture and used American culture as a yardstick. Moreover, both supporters and detractors of youth culture reduced its politicality to the cultural fashion of young people. In referring to Hippie Culture, the debaters only mentioned marijuana without addressing the anti-Vietnam War movement; they all defended the Vietnam War because they accepted that war as a different version of the Korean War, namely, as an anticommunist war. This depoliticized discursive disposition was one of the constituents of the Cold War regime. By questioning the demarcation between culture and politics, this paper’s reconsideration of the 1970s youth culture invites us to explore the politics of everyday life beyond the dichotomy of surveillance and resistance.