This article examines the formation of “Neo-Korea” —the constitution of the social and political imaginary of the present as a radical break from the dark past. Democracy and neoliberalism, dominant imaginaries of contemporary Korea, required forgetting. This article shows how new tactics of policing protest initiated in 2000, in the still-churning wake of the financial crisis, actively reprogrammed social memory, dramatizing a Korea of democracy and free markets. The analysis reveals the complex entanglement of biopolitics and sovereignty: the administration of neoliberal subjects and the banishment of those unfit for the new Korea. Their combined deployment constituted a politics of the new — the threshold of normative inclusion into the new Korea and the dramatic refashioning of the guise of the state. Contrary to the Foucauldian telos of the transition from a premodern theater of state power to the biopolitical technologies of modern liberal governmentality, the article demonstrates the continued salience of theatrical sovereignty in the formation of modern democratic imaginaries.

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