This essay supplies brief historical context on the Candlelight Protest movement in South Korea (2016–17) and provides the thematic and theoretical framing for the forum “The South Korean Candlelight Protest Movement and Its Discontents.” It lays the groundwork for approaching the study of the protests and assessing their historical and contemporary value for the push for political change, challenging economic norms and social renewal in Korea. In particular, this essay helps frame the forum as a platform for interrogating the connections between revolution, democracy, and capitalism and the limits of and potential for political change within the political economy of Korea and elsewhere.

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