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Coming to Terms with “Unreasonable” Global Power: The 2002 South Korean Candlelight Vigils

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In this essay I examine the emergence of the 2002 South Korean candlelight vigils, with a focus on how South Korea's post-Cold War generation collectively defined two Korean girls' deaths by a US military vehicle as a “national tragedy” and imagined themselves as a collective opponent of perceived Cold War politics. The Internet discourse that Korean “netizens” generated in the wake of the incident shows that Korea's Internet users interpreted and contested US hegemony by inventing local vernacular discourses: they created a collective identity based on shared feelings, invented criteria for reasonableness, and employed nontraditional forms of civic discourse. My analysis calls for attention to the vernacular discursive practices of social actors, who mediate, negotiate, and transform the manner in which global power relationships influence them within a local context.

Keywords: Anti-Americanism; Candlelight Vigils; Internet; Netizen; South Korea; Vernacular Discourse

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2009


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