This module pushes us to think against the Korean War as a past “event” by exploring its ongoing deep structural impact on the social, political, and economic dimensions of people’s everyday lives on the intensely militarized Korean peninsula, in the diaspora, and within the greater region. If the key historiographical debate within Korean studies during the Cold War fixated on the Korean War’s origins, by contrast, our focus on reverberations shifts focus to the ends, so to speak, or the lived effects and consequences of unending counterrevolutionary war. This module asks what the Korean War, as a permanent war structure, has enabled. On the one hand, what is its relationship to the national security state, the empire of American bases around the globe, the military-industrial complex, and knowledge production in the U.S. academy? On the other hand, by focusing on the past’s reverberation into the present, in ways often not readily identified with “war,” this module further delves into diaspora, kinship, and memory as arenas imprinted by imperialist war violence. It traces the profound levels at which hyper-militarization and partition are intimate in their effects, impacting multiple generations across geographies entangled in U.S. military empire. From the repercussions of peninsular division to the racist violence of militarized sexual labor to ideological battles over how to memorialize wartime violence, this module’s questions and study materials help us understand how the Korean War’s violence is reanimated or reproduced on intimate and global scales.
Intimacies of war
War by other means
Deeper Dive (Suggested Study Materials)
Baik, Crystal Mun-hye, Reencounters: On the Korean War and Diasporic Memory Critique (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2020)
---, and Jane Jin Kaisen, eds. Korea and Demilitarized Peace, Social Text: Periscope (2018).
Choi, Suhi. Embattled Memories: Contested Meanings in Korean War Memorials (University of Nebraska Press, 2014)
Han, Clara. Seeing Like A Child: Inheriting the Korean War (New York: Fordham University Press, 2020)
Kim, Daniel. The Intimacies of Conflict: Cultural Memory and the Korean War (New York: New York
University Press, 2020)
Kim Dong-Choon, Christine Hong, Henry Em. “Coda: An Interview with Kim Dong-Choon”
in positions: asia critique. Volume 23, Issue 4 (2015): 837-849
Kim, Joo Ok. Warring Genealogies: Race, Kinship, and the Korean War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2022)
Lee, Jinkyung. Service Economies: Militarism, Sex Work, and Migrant Labor in South Korea (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010)
Yuh, Ji-Yeon, Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America (New York: New York University Press, 2004)