Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea

Militarized Modernity and Gendered Citizenship in South Korea

Politics, History, and Culture

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Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 13 b&w photos, 10 tables, 1 map Published: September 2005

Author: Seungsook Moon

Asian Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Sociology

This pathbreaking study presents a feminist analysis of the politics of membership in the South Korean nation over the past four decades. Seungsook Moon examines the ambitious effort by which South Korea transformed itself into a modern industrial and militarized nation. She demonstrates that the pursuit of modernity in South Korea involved the construction of the anticommunist national identity and a massive effort to mold the populace into useful, docile members of the state. This process, which she terms “militarized modernity,” treated men and women differently. Men were mobilized for mandatory military service and then, as conscripts, utilized as workers and researchers in the industrializing economy. Women were consigned to lesser factory jobs, and their roles as members of the modern nation were defined largely in terms of biological reproduction and household management.

Moon situates militarized modernity in the historical context of colonialism and nationalism in the twentieth century. She follows the course of militarized modernity in South Korea from its development in the early 1960s through its peak in the 1970s and its decline after rule by military dictatorship ceased in 1987. She highlights the crucial role of the Cold War in South Korea’s militarization and the continuities in the disciplinary tactics used by the Japanese colonial rulers and the postcolonial military regimes. Moon reveals how, in the years since 1987, various social movements—particularly the women’s and labor movements—began the still-ongoing process of revitalizing South Korean civil society and forging citizenship as a new form of membership in the democratizing nation.


“[A] fine book with a great contribution to make to the current literature on South Korean development and modernity and, more broadly, to the study of postcolonial development and gender relations in the Third World.” — Hagen Koo, American Journal of Sociology

“[A] valuable work that deserves to be read and debated by all serious scholars of Korea. Filling a long-standing gap in the English language scholarship on postwar South Korea, the book also contributes to the growing scholarship on gender and nationalism in Korea.” — Sheila Miyoshi Jager, Journal of Asian Studies

“This book represents the real accomplishment of a scholar who has not lost her intellectual power and imagination regarding her mother country while also utilizing her assets and sensibility as a feminist, diasporic scholar in the United States.” — Yang Hyunah, Korea Journal

“This clearly written and eminently readable book is a brilliant study of the complex process by which the South Korean nation-state was able to become an industrialized economic power. . . . [T]his book will be very useful to anyone interested in analyses of militarism, postcolonial societies, social movements (particularly labor and women’s movements), nation-state formation, or economic development, and it is a stellar example of why these phenomena require a feminist analysis.” — Noël Sturgeon, Contemporary Sociology

“This fascinating study brings a welcome postmodernization theoretical perspective to an interpretive hypothesis still in need of much further scrutiny. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.” — C.L. Yeats, Choice

“This is an excellent book that sheds considerable light onto a new area that is as yet under-researched. I assume that besides being of general interest this book will be essential reading for courses concerned with citizenship and militarization of societies.” — Haleh Afshar, International Feminist Journal of Politics

"[E]xceptionally important and path-breaking." — Jeong HeeJin, Asian Journal of Women's Studies

"[T]here is much interesting material here. . . ." — Bradley Winterton, Taipei Times

"Concise and well-written. . . . [S]cholars interested in citizenship, democratization, gender relations, or East Asian societies [should] read and engage with this stimulating and carefully researched monograph. The book addresses a number of crucial historical and theoretical issues in a way that other scholars could find useful. . . . [A] thought-provoking book, and a must read for scholars interested in contemporary South Korean society." — Daniel Béland, Canadian Journal of Sociology

“In this provocative book, Seungsook Moon demonstrates how the South Korean state’s dual push for military security and industrial modernization reinforced gendered distinctions in the citizenry. She skillfully shows the intersection between compulsory military service for men and the marginalization of women in the economy through the symbolic and material valorization of men’s military service. The book masterfully articulates the demands of the state on Korean male and female citizens and the repercussions for the patriarchal family, for class identities among men and women, and for Koreans’ increasingly openly contested claims to the rights of full citizenship.” — Mary C. Brinton, author of Women and the Economic Miracle: Gender and Work in Postwar Japan

“Seungsook Moon has given us a sharp and detailed account of just how a state goes about militarizing men’s sense of their own manliness for the sake of its larger modernity project. This nuanced feminist case study will be of interest to all of us trying to disentangle gendered citizenship from militarized nationalism.” — Cynthia Enloe, author of Maneuvers: The International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Seungsook Moon is Associate Professor of Sociology at Vassar College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

A Note on Korean Language Conventions xi

Introduction: The Gender Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in South Korea 1


1. The Historical Roots and the Rise of Militarized Modernity 17

2. Mobilized to Be Martial and Productive: Men’s Subjection to the Nation and the Masculine Subjectivity of Family Provider 44

3. Marginalized in Production and Mobilized to Be Domestic: Women’s Incorporation into the Nation 68


4. The Decline of Militarized Modernity and the Rise of the Discourse of Democratization 97

5. The Trajectory of Men’s Citizenship as Shaped by Military and Economic Mobilization 123

6. The Trajectory of Women’s Citizenship as Shaped by Their Economic Marginalization as Reproducers 147

Conclusion: Modernity, Gender, and Citizenship 173

Chronology of Political Events 183

Notes 185

References 213

Index 239
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3616-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3627-3
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