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Photo: “Jakarta Blok M Melawai Street“, by Vulphere licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Yang, Myungji. “The Specter of the Past: Reconstructing Conservative Historical Memory in South Korea.” Politics and Society 49, no. 3 (August 2, 2021): 337–62.


Through the case of the New Right movement in South Korea in the early 2000s, this article explores how history has become a battleground on which the Right tried to regain its political legitimacy in the postauthoritarian context. Analyzing disputes over historiography in recent decades, this article argues that conservative intellectuals—academics, journalists, and writers—play a pivotal role in constructing conservative historical narratives and building an identity for right-wing movements. By contesting what they viewed as “distorted” leftist views and promoting national pride, New Right intellectuals positioned themselves as the guardians of “liberal democracy” in the Republic of Korea. Existing studies of the Far Right pay little attention to intellectual circles and their engagement in civil society. By examining how right-wing intellectuals appropriated the past and shaped triumphalist national imagery, this study aims to better understand the dynamics of ideational contestation and knowledge production in Far Right activism.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.