The “Long 1960s” in South Korea: An Interview with Prof. Dr. Kab-Nyun Kim

  • Claudia Derichs (Author)
  • Kab-Nyun Kim (Author)


In many accounts of the 1960s around the world, South Korea is a country and a case that escapes the gaze or is marginally recognised at best. This is surprising, since South Korea has witnessed quite a “rollercoaster” history in the decades following the Korean War (1950–1953). The 1960s were marked by the overthrow of the authoritarian regime of president Syngman Rhee (1960), a controversial treaty with Japan (1965) and the unfolding of president Park Chung Hee’s dictatorship (1961–1979). In the following interview, Kab-Nyun Kim emphasises the strong impact of the “4.19 Revolution”, the toppling of Rhee’s regime in April 1960, on the South Korean nation’s desire and struggle for democracy and the collective memory of a victory of the people – although this victory did not translate into democratisation in the immediate years that followed. It remains open to debate whether South Korea forms a special case or an exception in the imagination of a “global sixties”.


Long 1960s, Korea, South Korea, 4.19 Revolution, democratisation, interview