Open Access

The New Right and the 1948 Foundation View: A Failed Revision of South Korean Cultural Memory


The emergence of the South Korean New Right movement in the mid-2000s led to the questions of how to commemorate and evaluate the ROK state establishment in 1948, and when to precisely trace such a “foundation” (1919 or 1948?) to be vividly discussed in South Korean society. Was 1948 primarily a political division? Or was it a “foundation for success”? Following the 2008 Foundation Day Dispute, a significant number of scholarly works on the subject has been produced. This article analyses the conservative side of this discourse, approaching the foundation dispute as a conservative attempt to regain hegemony over South Korean Cultural memory in post-democratisation South Korea. Analysing New Right-authored historiography on the subject of “foundation,” the present study discloses how conservatives narrated the formative years of the South Korean state, arguing that merely dismissing the New Right as historical revisionists is too simple a conclusion. Rather, this article argues that struggles over Cultural memory are rooted in the ideological and institutional polarisation of South Korean intellectuals in contemporary South Korea. Furthermore, by contextualising the Foundation View against progressive historiography within South Korea as well as Cold War history in a global context, this study answers why the Foundation View ultimately failed to gain acceptance.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Cultural Studies, General Cultural Studies, Literary Studies, general, Social Sciences, other