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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Idea of Communism in Seoul w/ Badiou and Zizek


Now in its fourth installment with further chapters planned for Bolivia and South Africa, The Idea of Communism (surely now a "communist party" in its own right) left its impression on Seoul last month, with lectures and roundtables spanning four venues between 24 September and 2 October.
 
Speakers at this event included Marx Reloaded director (and now professor at Kyung Hee University in Seoul) Jason Barker, Wang Hui, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek (all pictured above) as well as Alessandro Russo, former Badiou student Yong Soon Seo, and Alex Taek-Gwang Lee. As is also usual the event was international in perspective, drawing together researchers from Asia (China, India, Japan and Korea) and Europe. 

Although the subject of intense scrutiny in the Korean media (the word "communism" was absent from the conference's Korean title) what these communist gatherings (including an “occupy with poems” event) would have meant to the wider Korean public is less clear. The simultaneous translations were limited to Slavoj Zizek's talk to a crowd of around 3000 people at Kyung Hee University (the event's host), at Platoon Kuntshalle (above), and to Badiou’s lecture on art at Seoul City Hall. Neither of the volumes from the London or Berlin conferences, both published by Verso, have been translated into Korean so far, while the only comprehensive introduction to the Idea of Communism for Korean audiences is the Korean-language edition of Marx Reloaded: Interviews on Capitalism and Communism, published by Nanjang Press last month.

However, interpellations aside, the conference included decent talks by Zizek on “Capitalism and Psychoanalysis”, Badiou on “Affirmative Dialectics”, the latter's former student Yong Soon Seo on the Gwangju massacre, and Alex Taek-Gwang Lee on “Communism and the Void”. Congratulations to Kyung Hee University and especially Taek-Gwang Lee and Yong Soon Seo for their energy, dedication and intiative in putting on this staggeringly popular event.