Attending this event?
To view sessions, please select the Grid view below.

After registering for the conference, you can log in here to save sessions to your personalized itinerary, sign up for workshops and performances with limited capacity, edit your profile, and edit your session description. For help using Sched, please see support.

For full details about the conference, please visit hastac2023.org
Back To Schedule
Friday, June 9 • 3:15pm - 3:35pm
Struggle Song: Sonic Conflict in the Jeju Anti-Base Movement

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

For 15 years, South Korea’s Gangjeong Village has been a site of a community protest against the Jeju Naval Base (Yoon 2017). These protests are held thrice daily, with bows at sunrise, a morning catholic protest mass, and a noon march to the gate of the naval base where military hardware is faced with songs and dances. Over the years, these protests have moved from violent confrontations with international media attention to a sustained series of events where activists from around the world gather to train as peace activists for their own struggles. This shift from confrontation to daily resistance has changed the focus of protests to acts of memory for environmental and religious sites destroyed by the base and acts of relation, building chains of between feminists, queer activists, environmental activists, anti-war activists and the labor movement.

This struggle is, in part, a contest over the meaning of peace and the tools used to depict it (Kim N 2018). In recognition of a century of atrocities, including Japanese colonization, the 4.3 massacre of 1947-48, and the cultural genocide of the 1970s, Jeju Island was legally designated the “Island of Peace” in 2005. The imposition of the naval base forced the debate into the public sphere. Would peace be the securing of territorial waters and natural resources, would it be the absence of military violence. While the struggle is multifaceted, this paper will address how it arises within the sonic practices of Gangjeong village. These songs, chants, speeches, and acts of public religious worship have come to form the spine of the daily protests. As the physical confrontations receded, they were replaced by sonic disputes, as protest sounds and military noise confront each other in both the symbolic and the sonic registers. The national anthem and peace chants mix in the mornings, the roadside chapel fights to be heard over construction equipment, and soldiers stage unofficial counter-protests by playing EDM and K-pop on their phones during speeches and protest songs. This question about sound has also become a point of contention within the peace movement itself. New activists are shifting the meaning of old sounds, opening up new experiments in noise making and sonic enactments of space, and reflecting the sounds of the village back to itself as the subject of documentation and performance. (Melitopoulos 2015, Kim SE 2017, Kaisen 2022)

The sounds of Gangjeong Village display a unique dimension of political action, where concrete aesthetics and tactics meet the formalisms of myth and symbol. In doing so, the Gangjeong Village Peace movement combined a tradition of Korean protests taking sonic space as contested territory (Abelmann 1996) with their tactics of sustained serial protests. These “ecotonal zones” (Tausig 2019) coordinate a certain structure of force. By examining practices and the relations that they compose, this paper will argue that sound emphasizes the coordinating power of collective art-work, while suggesting ways of conceptualizing long-term struggle as a rhythmic act of maintenance rather than a violent eruption.

Abelmann Nancy. Echoes of the Past Epics of Dissent : A South Korean Social Movement. University of California Press, 1996. https://openlibrary.org/books/OL22243175M
Kaisen, Jane Jin. Burial of this Order, 2022. https://janejinkaisen.com/burial-of-this-order-2022
Kim Sungeun. The Memory of the 25th Hour, 2017. http://seunkim.com/25th.html
Kim, Nan. “The Color of Dissent and a Vital Politics of Fragility in South Korea.” The Journal of Asian Studies, vol. 77, no. 4, 2018, pp. 971–990 doi.org/10.1017/S0021911818000980
Melitopoulos, Angela and Angela Anderson. The Refrain, 2015. https://www.angelaolgaanderson.net/the-refrain
Tausig, Benjamin, Bangkok is Ringing: Sound, Protest, and Constraint. Oxford Academic Press, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1093/oso/9780190847524.001.0001
Yoon, Yong Taek. ""Records of the anti-movement of Jeju Naval Base at Gangjeong Village (2007-2017)."" World Environment and Island Studies 7.4, 2017, pp. 219-235 http://www.islandstudies.net/weis/weis_2017v07/v07n4-4.pdf


Grant Leuning

Doctoral Candidate, University of California, San Diego

Friday June 9, 2023 3:15pm - 3:35pm EDT
PS 401 (Design Center)