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The Korea Now Podcast

Sep 13, 2021

This episode of the Korea Now podcast features an interview that Jed Lea-Henry conducted with Youngju Ryu. They speak about how modern Korean literature has dealt with the nation’s difficult legacy of authoritarian violence and suppression, how torture and the morality/immorality attached to it is written and described, the challenges of post-authoritarian accountability, the life and significance of the poet Kim Chiha, his lionization within the Korean democratization movement, his imprisonment and the type of Korean nationalism he wrote into his poetry, and the way he shifted from “martyrdom to apostasy” in the minds of many people when he criticized the continued activism of Korean youths after his release from prison.

Youngju Ryu is an Associate Professor of modern Korean literature at the University of Michigan. She is a specialist of modern Korean literature with research interests in politics and aesthetics of protest, cultures of authoritarianism, and mediatized publics in modern Korea. Her first book published by the University of Hawai’i Press in 2016 as Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee’s Korea, was selected as one of the “Best Books of 2016” by Foreign Affairs and received the 2018 Association for Asian Studies James Palais Book Prize. Youngju is also the editor of Cultures of Yusin: South Korea in the 1970s, published by the University of Michigan Press in 2018.

*** Writers of the Winter Republic: Literature and Resistance in Park Chung Hee's Korea Writers of the Winter Republic : Youngju Ryu : 9780824839871 (

*** Cultures of Yusin: South Korea in the 1970s Cultures of Yusin : Youngju Ryu : 9780472053964 (

*** The Catcher in the Loft, by Un-yong Ch'on, translated by Bruce Fulton and Ju-Chan Fulton The Catcher in the Loft : Un-yong Ch'on : 9781949933055 (

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