The Student Movement in Korea

The Student Movement in Korea

Student activism is work done by students to affect political, environmental, economic, or social change. It has often focused on making changes in schools, such as increasing student influence over curriculum or improving educational funding. In some settings, student groups have had a major role in broader political events.

The student movement in Korea has been influenced by the social environment; hence independence. It has been developed with diverse ideologies as the history of Korea is full of ups and downs. According to the book, A Student Movement and the Unversity Students’ Activity in Self-administration by Kookmin University professor Bae Kyu-han, student movements are divided into six periods. Professor Bae Kyu-han was chief at the office of student affairs in Kookmin University. He was a chairman in the whole country universities chief at office of student affairs conference. He said that as a representative he talked to many student activists and tried to represent desirable way to them.

Extracting from the book, the first period is independence and establishment of a country before 1959. The second period is the 4.19 Revolution in 1960. The third movement was caused by the opposition of the military regime from 1961 to 1971. The fourth movement was based on the opposition of dictatorship for prolonged one-man rule by Park Chung-hee, the leader of the Republic of Korea from 1961 to 1979 and a labor movement. The fifth period is by the
people’s revolution and there is the controversy of ideology then. The sixth period is after 1988 during the unification movement.The current student movement is related to this complex and volatile change in Korean history.

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Korean universities have long history of student movements, and I heard that nobody studied in 1980’s because of participating student movements. I appreciate this history since Korean democracy and politics could progress thanks to their sacrifices. But nowadays, students’ attention does not stay in student movement any more. There is no more dictator in South Korea (even though there still is a dictator in another side of Korea), but most of all, searching a job becomes more and more focus for the students. My generations say that the students in 1980’s could easily get a job with high salary even though they did not have good grades in their universities because that period was a time of big economic growth in Korea. The students nowadays do not have time for student movement since nobody secures our jobs, thus, we need to develop our career skills during that time for other activities. I am not sure which side is right. I believed extra activities were important when I was in undergraduate, but still, studying might be the reason that I come to university?