Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bibliography of the Kwangju Uprising (in English)

Here are the books and other resources I know of that pertain the the Kwangju Uprising, beginning with the earliest books to be published. The first two are 'library only' items, as they're long out of print.


"The Kwangju Uprising: An Inside View", Tim Warnberg. Korean Studies, v.11, 1987.

An excellent account of the uprising by a Peace Corps Volunteer in the city at the time. It can be downloaded here (scroll down to bottom left and wait 24 seconds for the 'download' button to appear).


The Kwangju Uprising: Shadows Over the Regime in South Korea, Donald N. Clark, ed. (Westview Press, Inc.), 1988.

Long out of print. At the Association for Asian Studies meetings in 1986, according to contributor Mark Peterson, "Linda Lewis, Donald Clark, David McCann, and I decided to put Kwangju on the national agenda of American academics" by preparing a panel on Kwangju in April of 1987. This collection of essays grew out of that panel.

Peterson, who wrote "American Officials and the Kwangju Uprising", presented a paper titled "The Kwangju Resistance Movement, May, 1980: Some American Perspectives" at a 1997 conference in Kwangju. It's well worth a read (or two); Peterson was in Korea at the time of the uprising. (Hat tip to Plunge)



Kwangju in the Eyes of the World: The Personal Recollections of the Foreign Correspondents Covering the Kwangju Uprising (Pulbit Publishing Company), 1997.

This book collects the accounts of seven foreign journalists who were present in Kwangju during the uprising. The accounts can be found online here. An article about the book by contributor and editor Henry Scott-Stokes can be found here.



Kwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness Of The Age, Jae Eui Lee; Translated by Kap Su Seol and Nick Mamatas (Univ of California Los Angeles),1999.

The underground 'bestseller' after being banned when it was released in 1985 under the title "죽음 을 너머, 시대의 어둠을 너머", under the name of well known author Hwang Seok-yeong. It could be seen as being hyperbolic and emotional - but perhaps for that reason it captures the esssence of the uprising, at least from the point of view of a student. Additional essays by Bruce Cummings and Tim Shorrock come from a very clear point of view.


The Kwangju Uprising After Twenty Years: The Unhealed Wounds of the Victims. Juna Byun and Linda S. Lewis, eds. (Dahae Book Publisher), 2000

A look at those who quite literally still bear the scars and wounds of the uprising 20 years later.


Korea on the Brink: A Memoir of Political Intrigue & Military Crisis, John A. Wickham
(Potomac Books), 2000.

Wickham was the US General in charge of the United Nations command, and thus most of the Korean army. Details his dealings with Korean military leadership. An interesting look at the propaganda and point of view of the Chun clique, at least from the bits I've read so far. It also includes the 1989 White Paper.



Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence: Carter and Korea in Crisis, William Gleysteen (Brookings Institution Press), 2000.

An account of the period between Park Chung-hee's assassination and the sparing of Kim Dae-jung's life, with a close look at US relations with Chun Doo-hwan and the build-up to the Kwangju Uprising, by the US ambassador at the time. Provides a good look at the political scene in Korea; several cables sent back and forth between the embassy and Washington are included.



The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness Press Accounts of Korea's Tiananmen (Pacific Basin Institute Book) by Henry Scott-Stokes and Jae Eui Lee (M.E. Sharpe), 2000.

This book is essentially an updated version of Kwangju in the Eyes of the World, which includes Korean journalists' accounts of the uprising. Again, the foreigners' accounts can also be found online here.



Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising, Linda Sue Lewis (Hawaii Studies on Korea), 2002.

Lewis, an anthropologist who witnessed the uprising, reflects on her own memories and how Korean society has come to memorialize the event. A good review of the book by Don Baker, who was also a witness, and who contributed an article to Contentious Kwangju, can be found here. Excerpts can be found here (1 2 3 4)


Contentious Kwangju: The May 18 Uprising in Korea's Past and Present, Gi-Wook Shin and Kyung Moon Hwang eds.(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc), 2003.

A collection of essays by various contributors looking at different aspects of the uprising. US missionaries present during the uprising, sociologists, medical specialists, historians, and others examine the event and its legacy.



Memories of May 1980: A Documentary History of the Kwangju Uprising in Korea, by Ryu Shimin, Jung Sangyong, Trans. by Park Hyejin (Kwangju Minjuhwa-undong Kinyeom-saeophoi), 2004.

Its point of view is clear, but it includes everything from victim, witness and military testimony, to injury reports and internal military documents. A very useful book.



The Gwangju Uprising: The Pivotal Democratic Movement Which Changed the History of Modern Korea, Choi Jung-woon, Translated by Yu Young-nan (Homa & Sekey Books), 2006

Originally published in Korean as "The Sociology of the Gwangju Uprising" (오월의 사회과학) in 1999. I just picked this up a week ago, but it looks to be rather interesting.



기영이의 5·18여행 ,도래미,이우진 (5.18 기념재단), 2005.

I picked this up in Kwangju last year. A comic (with photos as well) which depicts the uprising, and in which fictional characters interact with real victims of the uprising. An interesting study in how the city instills civic pride and creates a mythology of the uprising for the younger generation.


"Kwangju and Beyond: Coping with Past State Atrocities in South Korea", In Sup Han, Human Rights Quarterly 27, 2005



Internet Resources:


Hundreds of photos of the uprising can be found here (Antti has set up the links nicely).


For links to narratives of the Kwangju Uprising in different media (like short stories, poems, woodblock prints, etc), look here.


Peace Corps Volunteer David Dolinger's account of what he saw in Kwangju during the uprising can be found here. A comment from him talking about that time can be found here.


Jame's Fenton's "Kwangju and After", from Granta 24.
An American journalist's brief account of the uprising and the 1987 protests and election. It can be downloaded here (scroll down to the bottom and click 'free', then scroll down again and wait for the 20 second countdown to finish and download away - there are scans in a zip file).


Also to be found on the internet are Tim Shorrock's summary of the declassified Cherokee papers (which reveals some of the communication between the US embassy in Seoul and Washington at the time of the uprising). His original February 1996 article on Kwangju for the Journal of Commerce can be found here.


The United States and South Korean Democratization, James Fowler; from The New American Interventionism: Essays from Political Science Quarterly, Demetrios James Caraley, editor (Columbia University Press), 1999.

This essay, which can be found here, makes extensive use of the Cherokee papers, and provides many details about the political situation in Korea leading up to Kwangju (though I did find some small errors of fact, such as wrong dates).

United States Government Statement on the Events in Kwangju, Republic of Korea, in May 1980, also known as the 1989 "White Paper", can be found here.


A fictional account of the May 15, 1980 student demonstration in downtown Seoul which preceded the May 17 crackdown (and left a police officer dead), excerpted from the e-book The Seed of Joy, by William Amos (a peace corps volunteer in Kwangju at the time) can be found here.


Rewriting Rebellion and Mapping Memory in South Korea: The (Re)presentation of the 1980 Kwangju Uprising Through Mangwol-dong Cemetery, by Sallie Yea, can be found here [link is dead], while another essay by Yea, "Maps of Resistance and Geographies of Dissent in Cholla Region", can be found here.

Donald Sohn’s “Chun Doo Hwan’s Manipulation of the Kwangju Popular Uprising” can be found here.

"Comparing the Paris Commune and the Kwangju People’s Uprising: A Preliminary Assessment" by George Katsiaficas can be found here.

Interesting in that it provides a diagram showing the organization of the struggle committee, as well as not just comparing the two uprisings, but showing that the Kwangju student/intellectual leaders had studied the Paris Commune. Another essay by Katsiaficas, "Myth and Implications of the Kwangju People's Uprising" can be found here.


I should note that Linda Lewis wrote two pieces about Kwangju in the late 1980s (one was published in Shadows Over the Regime in South Korea), but that both are quoted from extensively in Laying Claim to the Memory of May. I haven't read this more recent essay, however:

Commemorating Kwangju: The 5.18 Movement and Civil Society at the Millennium, Linda W. Lewis, in Korean Society Civil Society, Democracy and the State, Charles K. Armstrong, ed. (Routledge) 2002


I'll update this as more comes to my attention.

5 comments:

Plunge said...

And here I thought my library of books on this subject complete. I only have about half of them! You missed one though, can't think of the name. It was written by Mark Peterson PhD. He interviewed the US Gen., can't think of his name off hand, who was in control of forces in Korea during that time about what happened, etc. Interesting read.

Anyway, great stuff!

Anonymous said...

"Comparing the Paris Commune and the Kwangju People’s Uprising: A Preliminary Assessment" by George Katsiaficas can be found here

matt said...

Thanks for those links.

I'd read the Katsiaficas essay before, but hadn't read anything by Mark Peterson - great stuff. I'll have to track down that book he contributed to back in 1987 - it's at the top of this post now.

lirelou said...

Comprehensive and useful links for anyone interested in Korea. Reference Tim Shorrock’s article. This is a first rate piece of investigative reporting. A truly professional piece. Yet it is flawed by the inaccuracy of some reasonably sounding judgments. Just a few examples will suffice:

According to the DIA cable, all Korean Special Forces units “had been receiving extensive training in riot control, in particular the employment of CS gas had been stressed.” CS gas is a virulent form of tear gas banned in many countries and considered b y some military specialists to be a form of chemical warfare. (My note: Careless exaggeration on Shorrock’s part. CS gas was a standard issue riot control agent of the period. No one who entered the U.S. military in the late 60’s to 80’s did not go through basic training without exposure to it. Why not give us a sample listing of the “many countries” who allegedly ban it, and the name of some eminent military authority who considers it a “form of chemical warfare”.)

“there was general agreement that the first priority is the restoration of order in Kwangju by the Korean authorities with the minimum use of force necessary.” (Good point which reinforces U.S. position.)

“…we must press the Korean government, and the military in particular, to allow a greater degree of political freedom to evolve.” (Ditto, but note that all the U.S. can do is “press the Korean government”. They had no command authority.)

The very fact that the DIA was reporting on secret military missions by the Korean Special Forces underscores the unusually close ties between the U.S. and South Korean militaries. (Yes, close relationships existed which facilitated the gathering of intelligence on an ally, no small reason for classifying all this traffic. That did not insert U.S. officials into the Korean command authority chain.)
Why this occurred is not clear. But the State Department portrait of a lawless city undoubtedly contributed to the decision made by the Carter administration on May 22, 1980, to allow Chun Doo Hwan to end the standoff in Kwangju with military force. (Shorrock confuses the decision not to forcefully oppose Chun Doo Hwan’s actions in Kwang-ju, which he has amply documented, with the putative power to approve or disapprove such action. The Carter Administration held no coercive power over the Korean government (or military) at all when it came to matters of sovereignty, as Shorrock himself lays out. He should have chosen his verb with greater care.

lirelou said...

One final thought on Kwangju. The Army whose leaders took Korea into democracy, cut their teeth on Kwangju, either as participants, or in support of participants, or reviewing what they heard happened there versus what they got from the news. It would be interesting to see how the rank and file professionals of the Korean Army viewed Kwangju in retrospect, and how those perceptions shaped their attitudes to their own and the military's role in society. Could it be that were was a generation that, while wearing their country's uniform, vowed: "Never Again!" If so, here's hoping some Korean hsitorian documents it.