Mapping South Korean Women’s Movements During and After Democratization: Shifting Identities

  • Song-Woo HurEmail author
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)


Korean women’s movements emerged in the late 19th century as resistance against Confucian patriarchal politics and culture. Following the period of Japanese colonialism (1905–1945) and later dictatorships, the women’s movement continued to grapple with women’s human rights and social and political freedom. This historical trajectory shows how Korean women’s movements shaped and were affected by the political context. Since the onset of democratization in the early 1990s, women’s movements have experienced significant changes and challenges. Over time, the subjects, issues, and political spaces of women’s movement discourses have widened. Through this process, the identities of the women in the movements have been changing too. In the 2000s, a new generation of feminists came into the movement and deepened its theoretical perspectives on unequal gender power relations.


Social Movement Sexual Minority Female Worker Identity Politics Korean Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Korean National Council of Women (KNCW). 1980. Newsletter Yeosung (Women), January–February, Vol. 161.Google Scholar
  2. Korean National Council of Women (KNCW). 1993. Thirty Years’ History of KNCW. Seoul: KNCW.Google Scholar
  3. Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU). 1987. Monthly Newspaper Democracy and Women 1.Google Scholar
  4. Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU). 2005. General Assembly Official Document.Google Scholar
  5. Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI). 2004a. http//: www2. (30/06/2004).Google Scholar
  6. Korean Women’s Development Institute (KWDI). 2004b.


  1. Buechler, Steven M. 1995. New Social Movement Theories. The Sociological Quarterly 36(3):441–464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chang, Pil-Wha. 1997. Korean Women’s Movement: Emergence and Prospect of the Women’s Movement. pp. 1–16 in Korean Culture Through Women’s Eyes. Lecture Collection, Spring Semester, Asian Centre for Women’s Studies. Ewha Women’s University. Seoul.Google Scholar
  3. Cho, Hae-Jung. 1993. The ‘Woman Question’ in the Minjok-Minju Movement: A Discourse Analysis of A New Women’s Movement in 1980s Korea. pp. 325–58 in Gender Division of Labour in Korea, edited by H. Cho. Seoul: Ewha Women’s University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Choe, Jang-Jip. 2000. Democratisation, Civil Society, and the Civil Social Movement in Korea: The Significance of the Citizens’ Alliance for the 2000 General Elections. Korea Journal 40(3):26–57.Google Scholar
  5. Chung, Hyun-Back. 1997. Together and Separately: ‘The New Women’s Movement’ after the 1980s in South Korea. Asian Women (Sook-Myung Women’s University, Seoul) 5:9–38.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, Jean L. 1985. Strategy or Identity: New Theoretical Paradigms and Contemporary Social Movements. Social Research 52(4):663–716.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, Jean L. 1995. Critical Social Theory and Feminist Critiques: The Debate with Jũrgen Habermas. pp. 57–90 in Feminists Read Habermas, edited by J. Meehan. New York, NY and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, Robin and Rai, Shirin M. 2000. Global Social Movements: Towards a Cosmopolitan Politics. pp. 1–7 in Global Social Movements, edited by R. Cohen and S. M. Rai. London and New Brunswick, NJ: The Athlone Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fraser, Nancy. 1991. What’s Critical about Critical Theory? The Case of Habermas and Gender. pp. 253–276 in Feminist Interpretations and Public Theory, edited by M. L. Shanley and C. Pateman. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  10. Fraser, Nancy. 1997. Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy. pp. 109–142 in Habermas and the Public Sphere Craig Calbourn. Cambridge, Massachusetts, London: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  11. Henderson, Jeffrey and Appelbaum, Richard P. 1992. Situating the State in the East Asian Development Process. pp. 1–31 in States and Development in Asian Pacific Rim, edited by R. P. Appelbaum and J. Henderson. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  12. Hur, Song-Woo. 2006a. Remapping Women’s Movements, Feminist Politics Reconstruction in Post-Democratization: Analyzing the Local, the National and the Global. Paper presented at 2006 Autumn Conference organized by Korean Association for Women’s Studies. Seoul. Korea.Google Scholar
  13. Jayawardena, Kumari. 1986a. Women and Resistance in Korea. pp. 213–225 in Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, edited by K. Jayawardena. London: Zed Press.Google Scholar
  14. Jayawardena, Kumari. 1986b. Introduction. pp. 1–24 in Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World, edited by K. Jayawardena. London: Zed Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kim, Kyung-Aae. 1996. Nationalism: An Advocate of, Or a Barrier to, Feminism in South Korea. Women’s Studies International Forum 19(1/2):65–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim, Kyung-Hee. 1998. Gender Politics in South Korea: The Contemporary Women’s Movement and Gender Politics, 1980–1996. PhD dissertation of University of Wisconsin-Madison.Google Scholar
  17. Koo, Hagen and Kim, Eun-Mee. 1992. The Developmental State and Capital Accumulation in South Korea. pp. 121–149 in States and Development in Asian Pacific Rim, edited by R. P. Appelbaum and J. Henderson. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  18. Minns, John. 2001. Of Miracles and Models: The Rise and Decline of the Developmental state in South Korea. Third World Quarterly 22(6):1025–1043.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Newland, Kathleen. 1991. From Transnational Relationships to International Relations: Women in Development and the International Decade for Women. pp. 122–132 in Gender and International Relations, edited by R. Grant and K. Newland. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Park, Sejin. 1998. Two Faces of Democratisation in Korea”, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 28(1):45–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pateman, Carol. 1989. The Disorder of Women, Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Shaw, Martin. 1994. Civil Society and Global Politics: Beyond a Social Movements Approach. Millennium: Journal of International Studies 23(3):647–667.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Yuval-Davis, Nira. 1997. Gender and Nation. London: Sage.Google Scholar


  1. Chang, Mi-Kyung. 1996. Present Issues of Women’s Movement- Relating to New Social Movement. pp. 34–53 in Feminism Today, Women’s Movement in the World, edited by M.-K. Chang. Seoul: Moonwon.Google Scholar
  2. Cho, Eun. 1998. Divisions and Coalitions of Women’s Associations. Journal of Korean Social Science 20(3):75–104.Google Scholar
  3. Cho, Hee-Yeon. 1998. The State, Democracy, and Political Transition in S. Korea. Seoul: Dangdae.Google Scholar
  4. Choe, Jang-Jip. 2005. Democracy after Democratization. Seoul: Humanitas.Google Scholar
  5. Cho, Joo-Hyun. 1996a. Politics of gender Identity: Korean Women’s Movement in 1980s-1990s. The Journal of Korean Women’s Studies 12(1):138–179.Google Scholar
  6. Cho, Joo-Hyun. 1996b. Equality in Feminist perspective: The Politics of Alternative Difference). pp. 44–74 in Gender Equality and Korean Law System, edited by C. Hyung. Seoul: Ewha Women’s University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cho, Joo-Hyun. Sexuality, Feminism and Ethics. The Journal of Korean Women’s Studies 13(2):7–39.Google Scholar
  8. Choe Min-Ji. 1978. The Brief History of Korean Women’s Movement. pp. 238–260 in Theory and Practice of Women’s Movement, edited by H.-J. Lee. Seoul: Creation and Critique.Google Scholar
  9. Choe, Sang-Lim. 2004. Searching for Organization and Empowerment of Women Workers. Paper presented at the 5th Conference of Korean Women’s Union organized by Korean Women’s Union with Korean Women Workers Association United, Seoul.Google Scholar
  10. Choe, Sang-Lim. 2006. Women’s Movements Overcoming Sexist Labor market and Female Poverty. Paper presented at Symposium for Creating Vision organized by Korean Women’s Association United, Seoul.Google Scholar
  11. Chung, Hee-Jin. 2005. Challenges of Feminism. Seoul: Kyoyangin.Google Scholar
  12. Chun, Hee-Kyung. 2001. Patriarchy of Social Movements and Formation of Feminist Identity. MA Dissertation. Yonsei University, Seoul.Google Scholar
  13. Chung, Hyun-Back. 2000. Issues and Tasks of the 21st Centuries’ Women’s Movement. Paper presented at the Symposium organized by the Research Institute for Alternative Society and Policy in Korean Women’s Association United, Seoul.Google Scholar
  14. Chung, Hyun-Back. 2002. KWAU, Where to go. Paper presented at Korean Women’s Association United Conference for Training Activists, Seoul.Google Scholar
  15. Chung, Hyun-Back. 2005. 60 Years of Korean Women’s Movements: Between Division of Korean Peninsular and (Pre)Modernity. Paper presented at the Symposium for 60 Years Memorial for Independence organized by Korean Association of Women’s History.Google Scholar
  16. Gee, Eun-Hee. 2002. Women’s Movements From the View of Insider- Activities of Korean Women’s Movement Association. Social Theory 99–142.Google Scholar
  17. Han, Myung-Sook. 1985. A theoretical study on Confucian views of women in the Yi Dynasty. MA thesis, Ewha Woman’s University. Seoul.Google Scholar
  18. Han, Myung-Sook. 1993. 20 years’ Christian Academy and Women’s Movement. pp. 384–419 in Christian Academy and Minjung Movement, edited by C. Academy. Seoul: Christian Academy. Hur, Song-Woo. 2006b. Globalization and the Reconstruction of Local Women’s Movements in S. Korea. Journal of Korean Women’s Studies, 22(3), 169–198.Google Scholar
  19. Han, Myung-Sook. 2007. Gain and loss of Liberal Reformist Gender Politics after Democratization. pp. 187–227 in Reality and Challenge of Korean Democracy, edited by Korean Research Association & Korean Democracy Foundation. Seoul: Hanul.Google Scholar
  20. JoIe, Yeo-Wool. 2006. Crisis of Progressive Women’s Movements. pp. 186–195 in Conference Material 2006 Korean Social Forum. Seoul.Google Scholar
  21. Jo, Jee-Hae. 2004. Feminist Cyberspace. Women/Gender Theory 10:101–110.Google Scholar
  22. Kang, Nam-Sik et al. 1999. Assessment of the Women’s Movement in 1980–1990 and Prospect of Task in Towards the New Century. Paper presented at Workshop (The Image of Alternative Society and Tasks of Women’s Movements), organized by Korean Women’s Association United, Seoul.Google Scholar
  23. Kang, Sun-Mee. 2005. The Politics of Differences and Transversal Politics. Document Collection for Women’s Movement Academy of Korean Women’s Association United.Google Scholar
  24. Kim, Hyun-Mee. 2003. Generation Transition of Korean Feminism. pp. 276–289 in Paper presented at the Conference ‘Changes of Korea Culture and Cultural Identity’, organized by the Academy of Korean Studies, Seoul.Google Scholar
  25. Kim, Kyung-Hee. 2004. The State and Feminism in Policy Making Process in S. Korea. Paper presented at 2004 Spring Conference, organized by Korean Association for Women’s Studies, Seoul.Google Scholar
  26. Kim, Soo-Ki. 2007. A Study on 2000s’ New Feminist Groups. MA Dissertation. Seoul: Seoul National University.Google Scholar
  27. Kim, Sun-Wook. 2005. Changes of Public Policy and Women’s Policy in the Era of Globalization. pp. 17–44 in Women in Globalization and Changes of Public Policy, edited by Research Institute for Korean Women. Seoul: Puleun Sasang.Google Scholar
  28. KimShin, Hyun-Kyung. (2005). Some Questions for Agenda Setting of Culture in Feminism Here and Now. Women & Society 16:162–175.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, Hyo-Jae. 1996. Women’s Movements in Korea-Past and Present. 2nd ed. Seoul: Jeongwoosa.Google Scholar
  30. Lee, Ji-Na. 2003. A Study on Young Feminist Groups. Gender Equality Research 7:153–180.Google Scholar
  31. Lee, Mi-Kyung. 1998. Women’s Movements and Democratization Movements-Ten Year’s History of KWAU (Korean Women’s Association United). pp.15–44 in The Open Hope: Ten Year’s History of KWAU (Korean Women’s Association United), edited by KWAU. Seoul: Research Institute for Women at Dong-Duk Women’s University.Google Scholar
  32. Lee, Ok-Boon. 2005. A Study on Strategy and Practice of ‘Radical’ Women’s Movements: Case Study of Women’s Liberation Solidarity. MA Dissertation. Daeku: Keymyung University.Google Scholar
  33. Lim, Ok-Hee. 2004. The Dilemma of the State Feminism and Reformation: Is the Reformation an Empty Desire? Contemporary Critique 27:65–78.Google Scholar
  34. Moon, Hyun-A. 2004. Beyond ‘Difference’ and Discrimination: Trans- borders and Politics of Coalition. Women/Gender Theory 10:187–207.Google Scholar
  35. Nam, In-Soon 1999. Positioning the Progressive Women’s Movement after the Democratization. Paper presented at the workshop titled ‘Alternative Model and Task of Women’s Movements in Korea’, Korean Women’s Association United, Seoul.Google Scholar
  36. Roh, Seung-Hee. 2003. Feminist Agenda in the 21st Centuries: A shift from Identity Politics to Politics of Difference and Coalition. Education Criticism 15:220–231.Google Scholar
  37. Shim, Jung-In. 1985. A Theoretical Investigation for Establishing Direction of the Women’s Movement. Women I:200–255.Google Scholar
  38. Shim, Young-Hee. 2000. Women’s Studies in Korea: Issues and Trends. Korea Journal 40(1):240–281.Google Scholar
  39. Sohn, Ho-Cheol. 2001. The State-Civil Society Theory: An Alternative to Korean Politics? pp.17–49 in Civil Society and Civic Movement II, edited by P.-M. Yoo and Jung-Hoon Kim. Seoul: sHanul.Google Scholar
  40. Song, Ho-Kun. 1999. The Era of Politics Without Politics: Korean Democratization and Interest Conflict. Seoul: Nanam.Google Scholar
  41. Song, Nan-Hee. 2003. Semantics of Experiences of Hurt and Cure Through Self-Confessional Writing: A case Study of Feminist Web-site ‘Unnine’. MA Dissertation. Seoul, Korea: Hanyang University.Google Scholar
  42. Yoo, Pal-Moo. 1995. Korean Civil Society Theory and A Consideration of Conceptual Framework of the Analysis of the Civil Society. pp. 228–262 in Civil Society and Civic Movement I, edited by Y. Pal-Moo and K. Hoki. Seoul: Hanul.Google Scholar
  43. Yoo, Pal-Moo. 2001. The History and Roles of NGOs in Korea. pp. 187–231 in Civil Society and Civic Movement II, edited by Y. Pal-Moo and K. Junghoon. Seoul: Hanul.Google Scholar
  44. Young Feminist Project Group. 2000. I am a Feminist. Seoul: Dong-Nyuk.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gender Studies in Action, Graduate School of NGO Studies, SongKongHoe UniversitySeoulSouth Korea

Personalised recommendations