Labeled as “forgotten” in the United States and yet seared into national consciousness in both Koreas, the Korean War persists some six decades after the signing of the armistice agreement as a differentiated and multisited structure of feeling, perception, memory, knowledge, and historical ruin.
“The Unending Korean War,” a special issue of positions
In the most recent issue of positions, “The Unending Korean War,” editors Christine Hong and Henry Em and contributors consider the longue dureé of the Korean War as a protean structure, at once generative and destructive, whose formations and deformations, benefits and costs, and truths and obfuscations can be traced on both sides of the North Pacific. This unfinished conflict not only reverberates in the relations between the two Koreas and between North Korea and the United States, but also manifests itself in regional and global tensions.
Contributors to the issue address such topics as comic books and the militarization of U.S. masculinity; a photo essay tribute to Chris Marker, French filmmaker and photographer; war as business in Manchurian action films in South Korea; and militarized and gendered diasporas of transnational adoption.
The Korean War and American Literature
The March 2015 issue of American Literature (volume 87, issue 1) addresses the unending Korean War through the lens of literature. Read further to discover how contributors Joseph Darda and Steven Belletto see literature coming to terms with the Korean War.
“The Literary Afterlife of the Korean War” by Joseph Darda
The Korean War is remembered only for not being remembered, Joseph Darda argues in “The Literary Afterlife of the Korean War.” Darda begins with an analysis of the biopolitical logic of defense that arose after World War II during a time of American global ascendancy and heightened anticommunism and then discusses the understanding of the Korean War as “forgotten,” an idea first introduced in 1951 but more recently taken up by memory studies scholars, before advancing an alternative narrative theory of the Korean War. He concludes with a consideration of the twenty-first-century literary return of the Korean War through readings of two acclaimed American novels: Ha Jin’s War Trash (2004) and Toni Morrison’s Home (2012).
“The Korean War, the Cold War, and the American Novel,” by Steven Belletto
In “The Korean War, the Cold War, and the American Novel,” Steven Belletto proposes that there are two broad phases of Korean War literature: one by white, male Americans who fought in the war, reported on the war, or ahd some other ties to the United States military. The second phase, which gained traction in the 1980s and 1990s, is generally written by first- or second-generation Korean Americans who either experienced the war directly or explored the cultural memory of a war that, some scholars have argued, is a precondition of the very idea of Korean Americanness. The category of “Korean War literature,” Bellatto writes, changes how we understand “Cold War literature” and therefore post-1945 American literature and culture.