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‘Hell Joseon’ - Tales from a South Korean Youth Trapped Between Past and Present

Schoonhoven, Johan Cornelis (2017) ACET35
Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
Abstract
This thesis takes its outset in the newly coined expression ‘Hell Joseon’ used by the youth in South Korea. ‘Hell Joseon’ is a comparison between today’s society and the pre-modern Joseon Dynasty. By asking “what are the main characteristics of life in ‘Hell Joseon’ from a youth perspective?”, I arrive at the following conclusion. Life in ‘Hell Joseon’ is highly characterized by discrepancies between rich and poor, old and young, men and women, global and local. This is a peculiar result of Korea’s double-compressed modernity which derives from a colonial legacy, top-down modernization in the post-war era and condensed transition to a neoliberal world economy, also known as the second modernity. Therefore, traditional and (post)modern... (More)
This thesis takes its outset in the newly coined expression ‘Hell Joseon’ used by the youth in South Korea. ‘Hell Joseon’ is a comparison between today’s society and the pre-modern Joseon Dynasty. By asking “what are the main characteristics of life in ‘Hell Joseon’ from a youth perspective?”, I arrive at the following conclusion. Life in ‘Hell Joseon’ is highly characterized by discrepancies between rich and poor, old and young, men and women, global and local. This is a peculiar result of Korea’s double-compressed modernity which derives from a colonial legacy, top-down modernization in the post-war era and condensed transition to a neoliberal world economy, also known as the second modernity. Therefore, traditional and (post)modern elements coexist in Korea’s society, and is partly the reason why the youth are now drawing references to the pre-modern Joseon Dynasty. Life in ‘Hell Joseon’ thus implies frustrations over high unemployment rates, a new ‘spoon class’ class division, lack of social mobility, an education fever and a downright “gender war”. More than that, it shows traces of apathy in the fact that the young generation is giving up marriage, children, jobs, hope, housing etc., but also traces of transformation since the ‘Hell Joseon’ discourse have made the youth take it to the streets, last seen in the mass demonstrations against now impeached President Park Geun-hye. Furthermore, ‘Hell Joseon’ rejects the conventional paradigm of development through nationalism and economic growth, in favour of more liberal modernization giving space for life-work balance and self-realization. (Less)
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author
Schoonhoven, Johan Cornelis
supervisor
organization
course
ACET35
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Compressed modernity, Hell Joseon, Youth, South Korea, Modernization, Inequality, Gender
language
English
id
8923985
date added to LUP
2017-08-29 09:41:30
date last changed
2017-08-29 09:41:30
@misc{8923985,
  abstract     = {This thesis takes its outset in the newly coined expression ‘Hell Joseon’ used by the youth in South Korea. ‘Hell Joseon’ is a comparison between today’s society and the pre-modern Joseon Dynasty. By asking “what are the main characteristics of life in ‘Hell Joseon’ from a youth perspective?”, I arrive at the following conclusion. Life in ‘Hell Joseon’ is highly characterized by discrepancies between rich and poor, old and young, men and women, global and local. This is a peculiar result of Korea’s double-compressed modernity which derives from a colonial legacy, top-down modernization in the post-war era and condensed transition to a neoliberal world economy, also known as the second modernity. Therefore, traditional and (post)modern elements coexist in Korea’s society, and is partly the reason why the youth are now drawing references to the pre-modern Joseon Dynasty. Life in ‘Hell Joseon’ thus implies frustrations over high unemployment rates, a new ‘spoon class’ class division, lack of social mobility, an education fever and a downright “gender war”. More than that, it shows traces of apathy in the fact that the young generation is giving up marriage, children, jobs, hope, housing etc., but also traces of transformation since the ‘Hell Joseon’ discourse have made the youth take it to the streets, last seen in the mass demonstrations against now impeached President Park Geun-hye. Furthermore, ‘Hell Joseon’ rejects the conventional paradigm of development through nationalism and economic growth, in favour of more liberal modernization giving space for life-work balance and self-realization.},
  author       = {Schoonhoven, Johan Cornelis},
  keyword      = {Compressed modernity,Hell Joseon,Youth,South Korea,Modernization,Inequality,Gender},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {‘Hell Joseon’ - Tales from a South Korean Youth Trapped Between Past and Present},
  year         = {2017},
}