Decolonization Movement Against Development in Jeju, South Korea

April 19, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Online via Zoom

The establishment of the Special Act on Jeju-do Development in 1991 – one that imposed a host of exceptions to ordinary development policy, including expedited land confiscation and relaxed land use and environmental regulations – sparked an extensive resistance movement. The island-wide movement catalyzed public discussions over how development projects colonize local places and people by dispossessing land and public resources, extracting development profits out of place, and excluding locals in the decision-making process. Jeju people articulated the violence of top-down tourism development initiatives that required the eminent domain of private land, dismantling of common assets and collective economy, and environmental devastation. Islanders contemplated how development projects create an extractive mechanism in which external capitals, with the state’s assistance, take profits out of Jeju, while Jeju has to deal with negative impacts of development such as the loss of livelihoods, environmental destruction, land speculation and gentrification. Jeju indigenous people also challenged the official promises of development by producing their own knowledge through written texts: peasants’ and divers’ handwritten petitions, protestors’ informal newsletters, students’ organizational flyers, activists’ magazine contributions, and intellectuals’ newspaper commentaries. Defining Jeju people’s collective resistance against the Special Act on Jeju-do Development as a decolonization movement pursuing right-claiming and self-determination, this presentation decenters the decolonization movement from the geographies previously colonized by the West. By interrogating how structural inequality has been constructed through speculative urban development projects, Professor Youjeong Oh reimagines urban space as a site for decolonization.

Ticket Information
Zoom Meeting ID: 912 9352 3622; Passcode: CKS

Event Sponsor
Center for Korean Studies, Mānoa Campus

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