War politics, visuality and governmentality in South Korea

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Article type: Conceptual paper Purpose-Political scientists have written about the South Korean state as a garrison state, a developmental state, and a neoliberal state. Instead of focusing on institutional attributes that characterize regime type, this article examines the rationalities and techniques of government deployed since South Korea's founding in 1948. Design/methodology/approach-This article focuses on three issues identified as emblematic of unruliness: military service avoidance, criminality/espionage, and non-productivity. The first two illustrate how sovereign power came to be established. The third example illustrates how governing rationalities have shifted since the 1990s. Findings-In spite of the authoritarian character of the Park Chung Hee regime, actions that seemed to equalize duty and punishment helped establish South Korea's "state-ness." As for governmentality in contemporary South Korea, neoliberal rationality and techniques do not act as a democratizing force, and authoritarian government remains within the general horizon of the political. Practical implications-By focusing on rationalities and techniques of government, this article has shown the importance of critically evaluating discourses and policies that emphasize self-Autonomy, self-responsibility, and tolerance. Originality/value-This article points to the value of examining the rationalities and techniques of government in various domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalNorth Korean Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 McFarland & Company, Inc.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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