Truth and Reconciliation in South Korea
Between the Present and Future of the Korean Wars
Edited by Jae-Jung Suh
Routledge – 2013 – 172 pages
Routledge – 2013 – 172 pages
The Korean War is multiple wars. Not only is it a war that began on 25 June 1950, but it is also a conflict that is rooted in Korea's colonial experiences, postcolonial desires and frustrations, and interventions and partitions imposed by outside forces. In South Korea, the war is a site of contestation: Which war should be remembered and how should it be remembered? The site has been overwhelmed by the Manichean official discourse that pits evil communists against innocent Koreans, but the hegemonic project remains unfinished in the face of the resiliency embodied in the survivors who have withstood multiple killings by the state.
The historical significance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea (TRCK), lies in its success in bringing back to life the voices of the silenced that complicate the hegemonic memory of the war as yugio, the "June 25th war." At the same time, the Commission embodies the structural dilemma that the effort to give voice to the silenced has turned to the state to redress the state's wrongdoings. The TRCK as such stands on the problematic boundary between violence and post-violence, insecurity and security, exception and normalcy. Truth and reconciliation, and human security, are perhaps located in a process of defining and redefining the boundary. This edited volume explores such political struggles for the future reflected in the TRCK’s work on the past war that is still present.
This book was published as a special issue of Critical Asian Studies.
"Unlike most current studies on the subject, which focus on the causes (or origins) of the war, this book focuses on two other aspects: the state’s violent suppression of its own (or allied) people, and the collective memories of the people under the harsh and brutal control of the state. […]This book will greatly contribute to the studies of the Korean War by suggesting a very effective way of challenging the hegemonic view, in which South Korea is simply depicted as the victim and the United States as the savior.[…] The book will certainly be an essential addition to the reading list of Korean War studies." – Dong- No Kim, Yonsei University
Introduction. Truth and Reconciliation in South Korea: Confronting War, Colonialism, and Intervention in the Asia Pacific 1. The Long Road toward Truth and Reconciliation: Unwavering Attempts to Achieve Justice in South Korea 2. Atrocities before and during the Korean War: Mass Civilian Killings by South Korean and U.S. Forces 3. No Gun Ri: Official Narrative and Inconvenient Truths 4. War Trauma, Memories, and Truths: Representations of the Korean War in Pak Wan-so’s Writings and in “Still Present Pasts” 5. Politicizing Justice: Post–Cold War Redress and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jae-Jung Suh is a political scientist who has worked on security issues over the Korean Peninsula, U.S. role in Asia’s security, and collective memory in Northeast Asia. His publications include Power, Interest and Identity in Military Alliances (2007); Rethinking Security in East Asia: Identity, Power and Efficiency, co-editor (2004); and "Race to Judge, Rush to Act: The Sinking of the Cheonan and the Politics of National Insecurity", in Critical Asian Studies (2010).