The History of the US Army Forces in Korea and the official history series of the Korean War were written in the context of the emerging Cold War with the Soviet Union and during the formation and establishment of the global Cold War, respectively. They served to diffuse a Cold War-centered worldview of vested interests at the American and global level. Meanwhile, Robinson’s “Betrayal of a Nation” could not find a publisher for its severe criticism of American occupational policy and was passed on to later researchers in manuscript form. And I.F. Stone’s The Hidden History of the Korean War (1952), which raised, “the theory that North Korea was provoked to attack South Korea” and denounced the US government’s military conduct of the war, was removed from many libraries. As the understanding of the nature of the Cold War and its culture has deepened, the awareness is widespread that the efforts to resolve postcolonial issues failed due to the advent of the Cold War. It emerged in the process that world powers’ dominance strategies violently deterred and sealed postcolonial challenges in the places concerned. As witnessed in the cases of Robinson and Stone, a divergent understanding of the epoch which countered the dominant one was repressed or rooted out by force in the US and around the ‘free world.’ The Cultural Cold War did not unravel in a way that different views and modes of understanding engaged in free competition; conversely, it had the characteristic of being deployed as one side excluded and suppressed the other unilaterally.
The three years of the Korean War (1950–1953), which had more than three million victims, also resulted in significant military casualties over a short period of time. Despite these civilian and military fatalities, there was only scanty Korean media coverage of the fallen soldiers at the time. The Korean military, however, faced the war without experience or official guidelines regarding military honors for the dead or procedures for dealing with soldiers’ corpses. This paper will investigate one inevitable result of war: fallen soldiers. Scholarship thus far has failed to sufficiently consider the question of how the remains of fallen soldiers were handled during military operations in the Korean War. In other words, the moving of the remains of killed soldiers directly to the National Cemetery without an understanding of the process for handling the dead on the battlefield distorts the general public’s collective consciousness of the horrors of war. This study aims to analyze the military organization and media reports on the dead soldiers of the Korean War based on primary sources, which have received scant attention in the Korean War scholarship to date.
The Korean War broke out on June 25, 1950. The armistice talks, which began a year into the Korean War, lasted two years due to the issue of prisoners of war (POWs), particularly concerning the Chinese prisoners. This paper aims to demonstrate how Chinese communist POWs’ decisions to go to Taiwan were actually due to the proactive efforts of the Republic of China (ROC) government. This paper investigates the activities of the ROC government in the conversion of Chinese communist POWs during the Korean War. Although it is impossible to identify all the individual reasons Chinese communist POWs chose to go to Taiwan, this research is able to substantiate the fact that the ROC government used various incentives to convince them to choose Taiwan. Examples of these ROC efforts include successful requests to the United Nations Command to send ROC interpreters to the POW camps, efforts to influence the atmosphere of the POW camps, and the infiltration of ROC secret agents into those camps. In the end, the Chinese communist POWs who chose to go to Taiwan were separated from their families and came to settle in their new home.
The United Nations collective security was organized and deployed as a coalition force within a unified command system under the overall command of the United States under UN mandate. The US assumed most of the military and economic burdens of UN intervention in Korea, and sought comparable authority and leadership in return. However, this caused conflicts over Korean aid operations and the logistical support of participating UN member states. Such conflicts, however, did not necessarily debilitate the US. With its overwhelming productivity and military strength, the US led the United Nations Command and provided the logistical reservoirs for participating UN states. In addition, participating UN member states that experienced the magnitude of America’s logistical support systems, military supplies, services, and equipment, became potential clients of the American military-industrial complex, just as countries that received American military aid. In a sense, the Korean War experience consolidated the contradictions of a Cold War peace that saw increasing reliance on the powerful economic and military prowess of the United States rather than on collective military action by an international organization. Consequently, the United States neglected the prospect for peace attainable through civil activities by the UN and UN organizations on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.
What was the actual status and sovereignty of the Tsushima state under its “ritual subjection” and what seems an “(almost) tributary relationship” to Joseon? What were the implications of Joseon being unable to apply its own criminal code on its vassals, that is, Tsushima residents in the waegwan? This article examines the dispute over judicial sovereignty between Joseon and the Tsushima state—something insufficiently explained by the conventional Joseon-Tokugawa Japan neighborly relations model—by focusing on the illegal prostitution issue that regularly provoked political feuds between the two countries. This article uses the report of the incident of Magistrate Kwon I-jin to focus on the issue of disparities in sentencing for the same crime between Joseon and the Tsushima state. This case exemplifies the complex relations between a suzerain and its vassal and an analysis of it promises a better understanding of the realities of international relationships in traditional East Asia.
In explaining the 2016 candlelight protests that removed Park Geun-hye from the presidency, many commentators in South Korea have emphasized the historical continuity of this event with previous candlelight protests that had different goals and contexts. Commentators have highlighted the uninterrupted commitment of active citizens to democratic progress and claimed that these citizens played the determining role throughout all of the candlelight protests. In addition to this view, this paper argues that there is an important discontinuity in the 2016 protests: ordinary citizens defied the Park government when the government undermined their livelihoods, and this defiance constituted the uniqueness of the 2016 candlelight protests. Specifically, by comparing the life cycle of the 2016 protests with that of the 2008 protests, this paper reveals that ordinary citizens influenced the process of the 2016 event by (1) initiating the preceding small protests, (2) continuously mobilizing livelihood issues and thus delaying the professionalization of the protests, and (3) de-radicalizing the movement. Therefore, the 2016 candlelight protests must be interpreted not only as the culmination of Korea’s decades-long democratic movement but also as a successful struggle of precarious people against the growing neoliberal threats to their livelihoods.
Korean Buddhist temples rarely dedicate shrines to tutelary deities or enshrine visual representations of them in worship halls. The Temple God (1885), hung in the main hall of Heungcheonsa temple in today’s Seoul, is a rare example. In this painting, the main deity sits at the center, solemnly facing front. Its iconographical features demonstrate visual affinities with cultic images of Guan Yu, the legendary Chinese marshal who was deified and worshipped as Gwanwang or “King Gwan” in late Joseon Korea. Intriguing visual similarities between this Buddhist deity and Guan Yu have not been examined thoroughly in previous studies of late Joseon Buddhist paintings. The cult of the Chinese god, which enjoyed unparalleled support from the royal court and commoners during King Gojong’s reign, seems to have been a major factor behind this unlikely iconographical borrowing. By closely analyzing the Temple God against the religious and visual culture of the late 19th century, this study sheds new light on the religious syncretism reflected in the painting and implications behind the royal patronage of the Guan Yu cult in a time of political chaos and upheaval.
The murals of Tomb No. 4 of the Ohoebun Goguryeo cemetery, in Ji’an City of presentday People’s Republic of China, display the sun god, Haesin, and the moon goddess, Dalsin. They play the role of mediators or intermediate beings, like shamans, connecting humans on earth and the gods in the sky. This study aims to trace the vitality of Haesin and Dalsin, whose faces are painted with extraordinary realism. The vitality of the paintings and their peculiar energy reflect the artist’s accomplishment. The murals show that the painter believed in animism and that all things were alive. As the Mongolian and Siberian tribes shared the common belief system of shamanism, the Goguryeo people believed in a mixture of Taoism, Buddhism, and shamanism. In particular, the vitality of the realistic faces combined with symbolism connecting the visible and invisible worlds, are characteristics of the Haesin and Dalsin images. This study suggests that the artist’s integrative perception of visual literacy (an ability to see and use images) was a key factor in making the murals look alive, which stemmed from the animistic, shamanistic, and monistic worldviews of the artist, who projected the belief system of the Goguryeo people on to the images.
Before the rise of brutal fascism in the 1930s, European authors fought to defend selfrespect, and to resist fear and violence and claim the rights of conscience. Their struggle was a spiritual revolution based on human justice and the emergence of authorial ethics. The poets Jeong Ji-yong, Baek Seok, and Yun Dong-ju discussed in this article were poets who fiercely answered the ethical question of how poets should live, and what they should write as poet-intellectuals of colonial Korea. Though they could not fight physically, they countered with spiritual power the forces of irrational and inexorable fascism. Through their works, they demonstrated the aesthetic choice of presenting the human image as the subject of the artist’s ethics, crossing between the West and the East, tradition and modernity, religion and culture. They performed the task given to the artist through a fictitious person, a persona, an aesthetic practitioner. The achievements of these three poets, who persistently questioned and explored the ethical meaning of poetry and the poet through their works, are clearly differentiated from their contemporaries. In addition, their choice clearly demonstrated the reality of the violent policies of imperialism facing a colony such as Korea, which differed from the anti-fascist struggle of Europe, while reestablishing the historicity of language and the literary task of colonial writers who had lost their national sovereignty.