The New Right movement that arose in the early 2000s in South Korea was a response to a change in ownership of Korean nationalist discourse during the preceding decades. Although nationalism was the preserve of the South Korean right wing from the trusteeship crisis in 1945 through the end of the Park Chung Hee regime, a historiographical revolt in the 1980s that emphasized the historical illegitimacy of the South Korean state allowed the Left to appropriate nationalism. With the loss of nationalism from its arsenal, the Right turned to postnationalist neoliberal discourse to blunt the effectiveness of leftist nationalist rhetoric. An examination of New Right historiography on the colonial and postliberation periods, however, shows that despite the recent change in conservatives’ stance on nationalism, a preoccupation with the legitimacy of the South Korean state remains at the center of right-wing historical narratives. The New Right represents old wine in new bottles.

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