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Democratic Education, Cham-gyo-yug and Happiness -Education democracy movement and education activism theatre in the 1980s and early 1990s

  • The Journal of Korean drama and theatre
  • 2023, (80), pp.49-98
  • DOI : 10.17938/tjkdat.2023..80.49
  • Publisher : The Learned Society Of Korean Drama And Theatre
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Received : November 8, 2023
  • Accepted : December 9, 2023
  • Published : December 31, 2023

Park Sang-Eun 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article seeks to trace the cultural forms of the transformative period and the questions about education that emerged during this time by examining the plays produced in response to the education movement in South Korea in the mid-to-late 1980s. In the mid-1980s, a series of student suicides in a competitive educational environment, coupled with deep emotional agitation and questions about what constitutes true "education," coincided with a period of transformation in Korean society, culminating in the formation of the National Education Association in 1989. As we have seen, a series of educational activist theatres emerged in response to the cultural movements of Korea during the Transformation. In the context of the rallying nature of the education democratisation movement and the folk national cultural movement in relation to a series of student suicides, the creative dance version <Happiness is not in Grading Order> (December 1987) was created, and the film of the same name (1989) was created in the context of the public's awareness of the seriousness of educational problems, the audience of the youth audience, and the culture of the urban middle class. In <Sunsae Imyo> (1989), <Last Class> (1989), and <Good Luck Teacher> (1989), the period of transformation from the June 1987 uprising to the formation of the National Teachers' Union in 1989, the agency of teachers as agents who change the reality of education, reflections on the labour conditions of teaching, conflicts and confusions created by the immaturity of the agents encountered in the actual educational field, and alternative reflections and questions about what is the educational field as a place of learning and teaching are embodied. <Dismissal Diary (1992)> captures the temporality of the post-dismissal period in the form of an accusatory drama and in-depth reflection, rather than in the form of a 'transformation period', and <Teacher Kim, What Are You Doing Now (1995)> shows the reality of the school after the aspirations for the possibility of educational reform have faded, while at the same time capturing the hesitation and disillusionment of a time when it is no longer possible to confirm the divergent paths of life after the movement or the meaning of continuing true education. The collective action of the teachers' union movement and the cultural symbols of the dissident folk movement derived from the student movement during this period were judged to be political and disturbing. However, the 'political' that was raised in the various educational movement plays was the questioning and exploration of the modernisation of education in Korea: the content and method of teaching that should be shared in public education, the professional and cultural hierarchy outside of school, individual competence, the nature of play and study, and the process of questioning and reconciling the shares and opinions in the social consensus on a good society and a happy life.

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