Strategies of Remembering the Past. Rhetoric and Argumentation in South Korean Presidential Commemorative Discourses on Samil Undong

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This paper examines the discursive construction of South Korean national identity through the analysis of the presidential commemorative discourses, from 1948 to present. The main focus of the research is to explore how The March First Independence Movement(Samil Undong) is (re)articulated and employed through the presidential commemorative discourses in different social and political context. The study's aim is to shed light on how this significant historical event is articulated via particular argumentative and rhetorical strategies in order to produce and disseminate the South Korean national identity. In spite of the fact that the significance of the extensive scholarship on collective memory and national identity is not played down, the starting point of this study is the need to explore and understand South Korean presidential commemorative discourses in their contexts, rather than trying to fit the discourses into a particular theoretical framework. The research deals with three major issues identified in the presidential commemorative discourses on Samil Undong: unsung national heroes and exemplary national heroes, claiming the political legitimacy, and the (discursive) history and Japanese Otherness. The research findings could lead to new insights regarding the reevaluation of the role played by the commemorative presidential discourses in shaping the discursive South Korean national identity.