Surveillance and Anti-Communist Authoritarianism in South Korea

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Minkyu Sung


In this essay, I argue that anti-communist authoritarianism has still survived into the 21st century South Korean public sphere, having been intensified in the idea of jongbuk. Jongbuk combines jong (to follow) and buk (North Korea) ideologically labeling people who are presumed to blindly follow, or be willfully serve North Korea’s totalitarian regime. People who are labeled jongbuk, pro-North Korea followers, are not only stigmatized and marginalized socially, but they are also subject to legal sanctions in their civic participation under the National Security Law. Especially under Park Geun-hye, daughter of military dictator and former President Park Chung-hee (1961-1979), I present how jongbuk has served as continued politicized commitments to national security and public safety used to justify the illegitimate and indiscriminate online surveillance and censorship of civilians and artists, as well as Park’s political opponents, to safeguard her regime.

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Author Biography

Minkyu Sung, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea

Associate Professor of Communication Studies

Division of General Studies

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea


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