Blog post

The Idea of Communism in South Korea

Huw Lemmey20 September 2013

Following three incredibly successful conferences in London, Berlin and New York on The Idea of Communism, Platoon Kunsthalle Seoul is presenting a new conference featuring some of the most influential thinkers and theorists on the contemporary left, including Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou and Wang Hui. The 4th Idea of Communism Conference runs from September 24th to October 2nd at Kyung Hee University. The conference organisers promise an intense critical examination across a number of fields:

What is that this is the issue of utmost urgency? What is this subject matter which requires not the suggestion nor participation of an impetuous alternative, but the brake pedal to the metal by the foot of a most sincere contemplation? As Zizek stressed, it is projecting the tomorrow of global capitalism that governs our today. The cause of systemic substitution lies in hostile relations which are unsolvable by old criteria. 

While Zizek's fatal four threats – ecological catastrophe, the inappropriateness of the concept of private property in the discourse of intellectual property, the socio-ethical implications of contemporary scientific development, and newly generated apartheids and slums – to the sustainability of global capitalism, "the commons" meets the eyes of insight: the ecosystem as a common human habitat, knowledge as a common, scientific aspects as a common, and humanity as a common. A global resistance to prevent the privatization of these commons is in action, with the proliferation of a trans-strata collective comprehension that disregard means dispossession in the plot of this dramatic demonstration.

Badiou and Zizek have already exercised a series of conferences on this theme in three metropolises: London, Berlin and New York, making Seoul the fourth. Why Seoul? The answer cannot be more obvious, for Asia has been playing a key role in global capitalism. For Badiou and Zizek, Korea's development and status quo has been a significant event in particular. There could not be a better city than Seoul to discuss the Asian piece of the puzzle. Seoul is no longer merely an ordinary Korean city, but an ascending interest of the world's most sober minds.

Seoul, the city of desolate consumption will reform into an arena of reason and reflection. This academic-active practice will provide us with the opportunity to rethink the commons which we must consider and conserve together, combined with a chance to collectively assess Korea's present and future. It will aim for efforts toward a new society by the name of "The Inoperative Community," going beyond a nationalism which confines and impedes its people, namely you and I. With the assemblage of refutes to the current flow of history, the gates of the path in the right direction will open.

We have reproduced the programme below. For more information, please visit the organisers' website



24th (Tuesday) @ Kyung Hee University(Peace hall)

19:30~21:30 Slavoj Zizek Lecture

25th (Wednesday) @ Platoon Kunsthalle

19:00~21:00 Slavoj Zizek Lecture

26th (Thursday) @ Kyung Hee University(Crown hall)

19:30~21:30 Slavoj Zizek Lecture

27th (Friday) @ Platoon Kunsthalle

13:00~17:00 Short documentary film screening

17:00~18:00 Press Meeting with Alain Badiou

18:20~19:00 Opening Ceremony (Artist Performance: Kyung Hwa Lee)

19:00~21:00 1st Session of Conference 
Moderator: Alex Taek-Gwang Lee
Alain Badiou, "The Affirmative Dialectics"
Cecile Winter, "Political Lessons of the Cultural Revolution"
Yong Soon Seo, "Idea of Commune in South Korea : the Case of 18 May in 1980"

28th (Saturday) @ Platoon Kunsthalle

Moderator: Yong Soon Seo
Wang Hui, "The Question of Class in a Post-Revolution Era and the Decline of Representation"
Rosalind Morris, "Between Teeth and Tongue: On the Commons and the Subject of Politics in Recent Thai History"
Saroj Giri, "Occupy, Communism and the Question of Form"
Pun Ngai, "Another Cultural Revolution is Inevitable: bottom-up, the Chinese working class in its making"
Ho duk Hwang, "Stairs of metaphor, Vernacular Supplements of Com- munism in South Korea"
Hang Kim, "With or Without Sovereign: A Genealogy of the Right Wing Communists in Korea and Japan"

19:30~21:00 Alain Badiou talks with Korean Poets; Bo-Seon Shim & Eun-Young Chin  

29th (Sunday) @ Platoon Kunsthalle

15:00~18:00 3rd (Final) Session of Conference
Slavoj Zizek, "Communism: An Idea Which Divides"
Alessandro Russo, "The Sixties and Us"
Claudia Pozzana, "Althusser and Mao: A Political Test for Dialectics" Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, "Communism and the Void"

19:00~21:00 Round Table  

30th(Monday) @ Seoul Museum of Art Lobby

19:00~21:00 Wang Hui: East Asian Empire & Political Culture of Colonialism, with Focus on China

Facilitator: Hwang Hoduk

1st(Tuesday) @ Seoul City Hall

19:00-21:00 Alain Badiou, Cécile Winter + Yong Soon Seo: Culture and Universality

(This program is provided in Korean and French.)

2nd(Wednesday) @ Seoul Museum of Art

19:00-21:00 Hoduk Hwang, Sohyun Park, siren eun young jung: East Asia bricolage, with Focus on Japan

Facilitator: Park Chan-Kyong