Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bibliography of the Kwangju Uprising (in English)

[Links updated on February 1, 2022.]

Here are the books, articles, and other resources I know of (mostly in English) that pertain to the Kwangju Uprising, beginning with the earliest books to be published.


Donald N. Clark, ed, The Kwangju Uprising: Shadows Over the Regime in South Korea, Westview Press, Inc., 1988.
  • At the Association for Asian Studies conference 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.

Arnold A Peterson, 5.18: The Kwangju Incident, 1990, in 아놀드 A. 피터슨, 5.18 광주사태, 풀빛, 1995.
  • Arnold Peterson was one of several American missionaries in Kwangju at the time of the uprising.

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.

Jae Eui Lee, Kwangju Diary: Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness Of The Age, translated by Kap Su Seol and Nick Mamatas, Univ of California Los Angeles,1999. New edition available as a pdf here (clicking begins download).

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.

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

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

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

Wickham was the US General in charge of the Combined Forces 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.

William Gleysteen,Massive Entanglement, Marginal Influence: Carter and Korea in Crisis, 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 Park Chung-hee  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.

Henry Scott-Stokes and Jae Eui Lee, eds, The Kwangju Uprising: Eyewitness Press Accounts of Korea's Tiananmen, 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.

Linda Sue Lewis, Laying Claim to the Memory of May: A Look Back at the 1980 Kwangju Uprising, 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. Excerpts can be found here (1 2 3 4)

Lewis also wrote the chapter "Commemorating Kwangju: The 5.18 Movement and Civil Society at the Millennium," in Korean Society Civil Society, Democracy and the State, Charles K. Armstrong, ed., Routledge, 2002.

Gi-Wook Shin and Kyung Moon Hwang, eds, Contentious Kwangju: The May 18 Uprising in Korea's Past and Present, 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.

James V. Young, Eye on Korea: An Insider Account of Korean-American Relations,Texas A&M University Press, 2003.

Young was one of the first to be trained as an area specialist in the US military and spent 14 years in Korea. A fluent Korean speaker,Young served as a military attache at the US Embassy in Seoul in 1979, acting as a liason between the ROK Army and the Embassy. He offers criticism on all sides of the events surrounding Chun Doo-hwan's rise to power.

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

Includes everything from statistics and victim, witness and military testimony, to injury reports and internal military documents. A very useful book. It is available as a pdf here (clicking begins download).

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

Originally published in Korean as "The Sociology of the Gwangju Uprising" (오월의 사회과학) in 1999.

Donald Kirk and Choe Sang-hun, eds, Korea Witness: 135 Years of War, Crisis and News in the Land of the Morning Calm, Eunhaeng Namu, 2006.

Over 40 pages of this book are dedicated to journalists' accounts of 5.18.

Georgy Katsiaficas and Na Kahn-chae, eds, South Korean Democracy: Legacy of the Gwangju Uprising, Routledge, 2006.

Paul Courtright, Witnessing Kwangju, Hollym, 2020.

Paul Courtright was a Peace Corps Volunteer who witnessed the uprising and helped interpret for foreign journalists, including Time magazine's Robin Moyer, who contributed a number of his unpublished photos to the book.

David Lee Dolinger and Matt VanVolkenburg, Called by Another Name: A Memoir of the Gwangju Uprising, Goggas, 2022.

David Dolinger was a Peace Corps Volunteer who witnessed the uprising and befriended the student leaders, helped smuggle dissident materials in and out of Korea after he was forced to resign from the Peace Corps, and later took part in US-based efforts to promote human rights in Korea during the 1980s. The book includes a chapter memorializing fellow PCV Tim Warnberg, who wrote the first academic article about the uprising, which is also republished here.

Hwang Sok-yong, Lee Jae-Eui, and Jeon Yong-Ho, Gwangju Uprising: The Rebellion for Democracy in South Korea, Verso, 2022.

A substantially-expanded version of 죽음을 넘어 시대의 어둠을 넘어 (Beyond Death, Beyond the Darkness of the Age, published in English as Kwangju Diary in 1999) was published in Korean in 2017, and this is a translation of that book. For some reason, in both the Korean and English versions, novelist Hwang Sok-yong is given top billing despite only writing an introduction and titling the book back in 1985.
Kim Yeon-min, Robert Grotjohn, eds, Selected Oral Histories of the May 18 Gwangju Uprising: Vol. 1. Testimonies from Various Locations, Chonnam National University Press, 2023.

This is the first of at least four planned volumes of oral accounts of the uprising (and is available from online Korean booksellers like Kyobo and Aladin).

Articles and Internet Resources

Missionary John Underwood's unpublished account of the uprising, June 5-6, 1980.
  • This account was sent to the US Embassy, and cabled to Washington June 10. The cable can be read here. Ambassador Gleysteen referred to it as "the most balanced record and analysis of [the] incident we have seen so far." (The cable is actually missing a page or two; the full account is here.)
Another account of the uprising by American missionary Charles Betts Huntley, "When It Wasn’t Fun (The Kwangju Incident Of May, 1980)," was likely written in 2005.

"Korea May 1980 People's Uprising in Kwangju," Ampo, Japan-Asia Quarterly Review Vol. 12 No. 2, 1980.
  • This magazine was likely the first in English to compile as much information as possible on what happened in Kwangju, and contains things such as newspaper articles, poems, and photos. It was published perhaps in June or July 1980, and can be downloaded here.

Martha Huntley, "Should we tell you about this?" Presbyterian Survey, March 1982.
  • Huntley was one of several missionaries in Kwangju during 5.18. This article has only a little about 5.18 but she apparently also wrote an account of the uprising which is quoted in Warnberg's article.

Tim Shorrock, “Korea: Stirrings of Resistance,” The Progressive, February 1986.
  • Shorrock interviews Kim Dae-jung, who declares the US to be responsible for ordering troops to Kwangju. It can be found here.

William H. Gleysteen, Jr., “Korea: A Special Target of American Concern,” in The Diplomacy of Human Rights, David D. Newsom, ed., University Press of America, 1986.
  • Former Ambassador Gleysteen first wrote about the challenges he faced regarding Park's Assassination, the 12.12 coup, and 5.18 in this chapter.

Tim Warnberg, "The Kwangju Uprising: An Inside View," Korean Studies, v.11, 1987.
  • An excellent account of the uprising by a Peace Corps Volunteer in the city at the time, it's the first scholarly article on the uprising. It can be downloaded here.

Jame's Fenton's "Kwangju and After", from Granta 24 as well as an extended version in All the Wrong Places: Adrift in the Politics of the Pacific Rim, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1988.
  • A British journalist's brief account of the uprising in 1980 and the 1987 protests and election. The Granta article can be downloaded here.

After the June 1987 democracy protests, in 1988 the National Assembly held an inquiry into the Kwangju Uprising. In response to questions by the National Assembly, the US State Department released a ‘White Paper’ in June 1989 titled “United States Government Statement on the Events in Kwangju, Republic of Korea, in May 1980.”

American diplomatic cables from late 1979 to mid 1980 (the Cherokee Papers) were obtained and written about by journalist Tim Shorrock in a February 27, 1996 Journal of Commerce article titled "Ex-Leaders Go On Trial In Seoul." An even longer version was posted at Kimsoft in 1997 (judging by the Wayback Machine) titled “The U.S. Role in Korea in 1979 and 1980.”

In 1997 the Gwangju May 18 Historical Materials Compilation Committee released volumes 6 to 10 of the May 18 Gwangju Democratization Movement Materials which contain this entire collection of unclassified cables sent between the US Embassy in Seoul and the State Department in Washington DC, which total around 3,700 pages. They can be found online (pages can be downloaded to be read at full size):

Volume 6:  Jan – July 1979
Volume 7:  Aug – Nov 1979
Volume 8:  Dec 1979 – April 1980
Volume 9:  May – July 1980
Volume 10:  August – Dec 1980

The US government in 2020 released fully-uncensored versions of 43 these cables; they can be downloaded from the 5.18 Archives here. 문서 목록.pdf  is the table of contents, while 미측 기록물(43건).pdf contains the cables.

The US Embassy website is also hosting over 100 cables, 33 of which it posted in spring 2020; 36 more followed in 2021. The most recent additions are from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. The majority of this material is available above the cables at the US Embassy's website in six large pdfs under the names "Carter Presidential Library Documents." Another set of documents from this collection can be found here at the May 18 Archives website; they're contained in a zip file (look for "파일: 카터 기록관 신규 공개자료.zip") with various folders of material, including one folder of cables related to the immediate aftermath of Park Chung-hee's assassination and another of cables related to Kim Dae-jung's trial.

The National Security Archive has made available 18 internal US government documents related to Korea from the Carter Presidency.

The May 9, 1980 CIA report “Growing Unrest In South Korea And Prospect For Takeover By Military Strongman Chon Doo Hwan” can be found here. More CIA reports can be found by searching its FOIA Reading Room.

Seven documents about 5.18 coming from the US and North Korea, including Donald Gregg’s May 21, 1980 Memorandum for Zbigniew Brzezinski, can be found at the Wilson Center here (or here). As well, a key document not in that document collection is the May 22 Action Memorandum From Richard Holbrooke And Anthony Lake To The US Secretary Of State, ‘PRC Meeting On Korea’, an excellent companion piece to the Platt Memo.

The May 22, 1980 PRC Platt Memo - a memo by Nicholas Platt, then a senior aide to Defense Secretary Brown, recording the conversation at the Periodic Review Committee meeting at the White House that day - can be found in English at the bottom of this page or as a Word file here.

Interviews with former US Embassy staff from the 1980s can be found here.

Mark Peterson, who interviewed General Wickham and former Ambassador Gleysteen in 1987's The Kwangju Uprising: Shadows Over the Regime in South Korea, presented a paper titled "The Kwangju Resistance Movement, May, 1980: Some American Perspectives" at a 1997 conference in Kwangju. Peterson was the Fullbright director in Seoul at the time of the uprising. (Hat tip to Plunge)

Donald Sohn's 1998 MA Thesis Chun Doo Hwan’s Manipulation of the Kwangju Popular Uprising, which is based in part on the Cherokee Papers, can be found here.

James Fowler’s “The United States and South Korean Democratization,” published in 1999 in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 114, No. 2, pp. 265-288.
  • This article, 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 incorrect dates).

Sallie Yea, "Maps of Resistance and Geographies of Dissent in Cholla Region, South Korea," Asian Studies Institute Working Paper No. 7, Wellington: Victoria University of Wellington, 1999

Sally Yea, "Rewriting Rebellion and Mapping Memory in South Korea: The (Re)presentation of the 1980 Kwangju Uprising Through Mangwol-dong Cemetery," 2002.

George Katsiaficas, "Comparing the Paris Commune and the Kwangju People’s Uprising: A Preliminary Assessment."
  • This article 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.

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

George Katsiaficas, “Neoliberalism and the Gwangju Uprising,” 2006
  • An article based on the Cherokee Papers which highlights the US's economic interests in Korea and tries (but fails) to link early 1980s economic restructuring to the suppression of the Kwangju Uprising. It can be read here.

Peace Corps Volunteer David Dolinger's account of what he saw in Kwangju during the uprising can be found here, while additional comments by him can be found here.

Andrew David Jackson, "Jürgen Hinzpeter and Foreign Correspondents in the 1980 Kwangju Uprising," Cambridge University Press, 27 April 2020. (Behind a pay wall here.)

David Shim, "Cinematic Representations of the Gwangju Uprising: Visualising the “New” South Korea in A Taxi Driver," Asian Studies Review, 26 October, 2020.

Popular Arts

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

William Amos,The Seed of Joy
  • A fictional account of the Kwangju Uprising by William Amos (a peace corps volunteer in Jeollanam-do at the time). An interview with Amos can be found here.

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

I picked this up in Kwangju in 2005. 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.

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


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.