The candlelight protests that refuse to go out: Understanding the significance of South Korea’s latest protest wave

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Political protest has always propelled South Korea’s democratisation. It was through the mass uprising in April 1960 that South Koreans ended the autocratic rule of Syngman Rhee. The democracy that followed the ‘April Revolution’ was short-lived, but the subsequent military regimes of Park Chung-hee (1961–79) and Chun Doo-hwan (1980–87) had to cope with a recalcitrant opposition that tirelessly protested authoritarian rule. In June 1987, another mass mobilisation eventually forced the authoritarian rulers to concede democratic reforms.

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