Déjà vu, déjà entendu [17]

[An San a été] harcelée par des personnes avec des idées du Moyen Âge mais des moyens techniques du 21ème siècle. C’est souvent un mélange très compliqué, et c’est un mélange particulièrement explosif en Corée du Sud.

(From 0:52 in; any error in transcription is mine.)

While we are at it, let me plug in a couple of passages I wrote earlier.

In his work titled “Korea’s Crisis of Success,” Byung-Kook Kim (1997, pp.130–131) argues that the poor health of Korean party politics after the democratic transition is due to the lack of viable new “software” for running the “hardware” instituted and consolidated since 1987. Kim’s argument has nothing to do with the Internet, let alone Web 2.0, but a useful parallel can be drawn from it. To paraphrase him, Web 2.0 has not presented a linear progression towards a higher level of interactivity and of citizen participation in the Korean case, because the country’s market dynamics as well as its institutional dynamics (“software”) are not in keeping with its rapid technological and infrastructural development (“hardware”), and this somehow hinders creative interpretations of Web 2.0 on the part of individual users.

Lee, Y. (2009). ‘Internet Election 2.0? Culture, Institutions, and Technology in the Korean Presidential Elections of 2002 and 2007’. JITP 6(3): 312-325.

From investigating the ways in which the Internet was conceptualised and positioned in the arena of Korean politics from 2002 to 2007, my principal finding is a tension at play in Korean society — a highly technologically advanced society grounded in very traditional notions of institutions. To be more specific, the interplay between the existing institutional values (including legal frameworks, Confucian ethos, and the 1980s’ pro-democracy movement tradition) and what the Internet offers (both technically and metaphorically) was possibly the most significant factor that this study has identified.

Lee, Y. (2009). Internet-Facilitated Political Mobilisation: A Case Study of Nosamo, the Supporters Network of the 16th President of South Korea. PhD thesis, UoL.

Despite its significant political potential demonstrated, the Eonsoju case illustrates how ‘fragile’ P2P organising can be vis-à-vis legal and other institutional forces (see also Etling et al., 2010). […] the significance of the present study lies in the fact that it has thrown up some fundamental questions. One of them is whether horizontally networked efforts such as Eonsoju will ever be able to match up to vertically aligned institutions, especially in societies like Korea where the latter have always been more prominent (Lee, 2009b). Another question is, in a broader interpretation of the findings of Etling et al. (2010) and Dean (2005), how then to create a system that is more ‘responsive’ to the needs and opinions expressed through such networks and harness their democratising potential. Cyberspace is often presented as a clever means of circumvention for bottom-up initiatives, but the life of Eonsoju depicted here highlights that such initiatives cannot be a sustainable solution without being grounded in a physical world that is responsive to and supportive of grassroots development.

Lee, Y. (2016). The fragile beauty of peer-to-peer activism: The public campaign for the rights of media consumers in South Korea. NMS 18(10): 2254-2270.

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