On March 10, 2017, the President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, was impeached for influence peddling after months of peaceful mass demonstrations. Do these candlelight vigils mark a progressive shift in Korea’s street protest repertoires? On the contrary, this paper draws upon the Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder to argue that violence was a real possibility, particularly at the structural, ideological, and contextual levels, but that the Seoul Administrative Court’s interventions at the contextual and situational levels helped prevent flashpoints from igniting. Additionally, disciplined behaviour by protestors and police at the interactional level helped contain isolated physical altercations. This paper finds that the Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder, originally devised to explain why violent protests happen in Western countries, is also a useful tool for analysing the outcomes of protests in Korea. Nevertheless, the candlelight vigils in downtown Seoul also offer a strong test of the model and its assumptions.
Ⅱ. Flashpoints Model of Public Disorder
Ⅲ. South Korean Impeachment Protests