“We’ll protect you”: Young Women’s Taking Space in the 2008 Candlelight Rally in Seoul


Drawing on Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space, this research explores how young Korean women took space and created an alternative everyday life in the 2008 Candlelight Rally in Seoul. The existing literature on social movements dominantly assumes taking space as extraordinary ruptures, which then return to everyday normality. However, as recent studies reveal, these ruptures are not only moments of excess but also are opening towards new creations of everyday life. This article investigates the sociomaterial practices of young women who were involved in the candlelight protest. It focuses on how they transformed the “dangerous” exceptional space into “safe” ordinary space by calling for non-violence, practicing care of others and being connected through digital media. I attended the protest both as a media ethnographer and protestor and my encounters with those women were contextualised by our joint attendance at various protests. I conclude that the protest provided those women, who had been isolated, with exceptional moments when they became engaged out on the street as public subjects, forming a sense of solidarity based on their shared precariousness as women in South Korea. I argue that in so doing they not only built infrastructures to sustain the exceptional space of the candlelight protest, but also created a new form of everyday life. This article contributes to further understanding of taking space as part of everyday life, challenging the division between the protest and everyday life.