Protest, Conflict, and Class Struggle in South Korea: Two Cases of Urban Redevelopment in Incheon

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Jiyoung ROH , Public Administration, Incheon National University, South Korea
Miru LEE , Public Administration, Incheon National University, South Korea
Bo WANG , Public Administration, Incheon National University, South Korea
Chad ANDERSON , Incheon National University, South Korea
South Korea has suffered from major economic dislocations under the pressures of globalization, marketization, and economic restructuring particularly since the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98. Labor responded in the last decade with a wave of labor militancy that receded with the decline of the labor movement and a period of labor peace during the recent economic crisis. At the meantime the public has asked for more welfare spending. Throughout the period, though, there has been sustained resistance to capital in the form of protests against urban redevelopment. In recent years, urban protests have even taken a similar form to labor protests, with both involving sustained occupations and a common protest culture. This study reviews the recent trends in resistance against domestic (and foreign) capital and then looks at the specific cases of housing protests in the Kajwa and Dohwa neighborhoods of Incheon. In both cases, a lower-income community was displaced by landlords seeking profit by building more expensive housing in a pattern common throughout Korea despite plenty of housing stock that could be rehabilitated at lower cost.  The capital drive to redevelop has continued in spite of a collapse in the luxury housing market, and a lack of affordable housing. The course of the occupations and protests are reviewed and linked to broader issues of class conflict in Incheon and South Korea.