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Forgetting Daechuri: An Analysis of Mainstream Media Coverage on the Violent Eviction of Daechuri and Activism during the Expansion of USFK Camp Humphreys

Anat Schwartz, University of California Irvine

In 2006 the United States Forces Korea (USFK) began moving from the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, a rural farming town about thirty minutes outside of Seoul. South Korea agreed to subsidize the move, and provided the soldiers and funds necessary to forcefully evict citizens to facilitate the expansion of Camp Humphreys. Daechuri is a small rural farming town, populated mostly by senior citizens whose only livelihood is farming rice paddies. Thus, in 2006, residents and activists attempted to resist the forceful and violent eviction.

This paper analyzes mainstream images and articles on the protests in Daechuri and Pyeongtaek, and the South Korean military’s forceful and violent eviction of citizens and activists. The luxurious nature of the Camp Humphreys expansion, combined with South Korea bearing most of the cost of the relocation and the problems that arise for locals living near U.S. bases abroad, exasperated the tensions between the government and the residents and activists. This paper will discuss representation and imagery during the height of the Daechuri struggle in American and Korean mainstream venues, and the implications of rendering particular images visible or invisible (such as the Korean media focusing on violent imagery rather than the anti-U.S. graffiti) through Jacques Ranciere’s (2011) conceptualization of a “knowledge of ignorance” or the “opposite of knowledge.” In discussing visual representation during the Daechuri evictions and protests, we will consider the larger implications of this event, and the effects outside activists had on the Daechuri struggle.