Editor's Introduction

Publishing the Second Issue of S/N Humanities Volume One

Kim, Sung-Min

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.7-13

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Feature Articles

Division Trauma of Koreans and Oral Narrative Healing

Kim, Jong-Kun

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.17-39

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This article looks into the reality of division trauma through various examples of recounts of war experience of Koreans, and seeks ways to heal that division trauma by focusing on oral narrative methods and contents of the tales. The sources of some irrationalities and conflicts in present day Korean society are division between South and North Korea, and the Korean War. As a result of such tragedy, politico-social conflicts still continue, leaving many scars on the lives of individuals. These scars are referred to as division trauma. Division trauma has a strong collective characteristic because it comes from the division and war experienced by the nation as a whole. Many of the recounts of Korean War experience contain such division trauma and constitute the mainstream of modern oral literature. However, these recounts, depending on how the narrator conveys the story and perceives the relevant event, take on different forms even with regard to same event. There is a coexistence between storytelling based on the narrative of division where the narrator points fingers and criticizes others as perpetrators, and storytelling seeking to become a narrative of integration by objectifying all aspects of an event and narrating it based on feelings of empathy. Oral storytelling aiming to become an integrative narrative, revealing how tragic wars are and how they negate all humanness, can contribute to healing division trauma. If stories with such narrative method can be found, be diffused throughout society and form a discursive space for an integrative narrative, oral narrative healing will become possible.

Trauma Seen through Korean Women’s Recounts of War Experience and Prospects of Overcoming the Trauma

Kang, Mi-Jeong

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.41-59

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Korean women’s recounts of war experience manifest realities of a war that permeated through their everyday lives. They are important materials that reveal trauma from the war. What kind of traumas can be found in those recounts of war experience and what can be done to alleviate those traumas? In order to find answers to these questions, this article discusses the case of a woman called Gim Seong-Yeon, who was forced to live in difficult conditions as a refugee during the war. In her war experience tale, there is a repetition of how she was separated from her family, how she was mistreated and how she had no one to depend on for protection. The war left Seong-Yeon with a trauma in the form of fear and distrust. But Seong-Yeon also narrated folktales aside from her recounts of her war experience. Unlike her war experience testimonies, her folktales are mainly about reassurance and trust. Therefore, this article seeks to compare Seong-Yeon’s recount of her war experience and her folktales, to reveal the fact that when a person suffers from trauma in the form of fear and distrust as an aftermath of the Korean war, as in the case of Seong-Yeon, stories about reassurance and trust, even if they are far from reality, can help in overcoming that trauma.

The Meaning of Historical Deaths as Seen through the Novella Sun-i amch’on and Mourning as Politics of Human Rights

Kim, Jong-Gon

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.61-76

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The aim of this article is to shed light on the meaning of historical deaths, nowadays being mummified, memorialized or even denied, and to discuss what kind of mourning is needed for such deaths. To this end, the novella Sun-i Samch’on is used as a text, to analyze the meaning of historical deaths as depicted in the story from the viewpoint of the responsibility and commitment of those living, and also to see what possibilities there are in healing those who are in pain because of a tragic history. The article then goes onto pointing out, through the novella, a problematic way of approaching historical deaths and their mourning. Mourning for certain deaths is still impossible even though certain amount of historical justice have been attained and truths about historical deaths revealed, thanks to democratization - an important landmark in Korean modern history. The reason behind this impossibility is ‘selective mourning’, and the article proposes, as a way to overcome this problem, mourning as politics of human rights.


The History of the Present: Foundational Meta-Narratives in Contemporary North Korean Discourse

Eric J. Ballbach

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.79-100

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This study addresses the phenomenon of foundational meta-narratives in North Korea’s discourses. Meta-narratives are understood here as a totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge and experience. On the national level, meta-narratives refer to those over-arching, all-encompassing myths and stories that contain the historical knowledge of a country’s foundational history. This paper discusses three particularly important meta-narratives permeating North Korea’s contemporary political and cultural discourses: the meta-narrative of national ruin, of (Kim Il Sung’s) armed resistance and of constant threat of external aggression. Providing both positive and negative frames of reference, the study shows how these meta-narratives are strategically employed in contemporary discourses as ‘historical contextualizations’ in which particular interpretations of the past are used as arguments for political actions in the present, and, with recourse to history, produce a normative frame for evaluating contemporary events and actions. At the same time, the historical references and myths contained in those meta-narratives play an important role in establishing identity and fostering integration, for they level differences within the North Korean community and thus construct sameness and communality.

The History of the Present: Foundational Meta-Narratives in Contemporary North Korean Discourse

Stanislav L. Tkachenko

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.101-117

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Since Ukraine’s crisis started in February 2014, the relations of the Russian Federation with Western powers deteriorated significantly and have reached the level of the Cold War conflict. That is why the “Pivot to Asia” is currently the key characteristics of its foreign policy strategy. This article analyses several scenarios of future security regime in Asia as well as Russia’s vision of possible developments in the Korean peninsula. It concludes that the strategic aim of the international community of nations nowadays should be peace-keeping, conflict resolution, maintaining status-quo in those regions (the Korean peninsula, for example), where an immediate solution is impossible.

Book Review

‘Under the Demilitarized Zone...the Beach’: or Reading Choi through Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’

Robert Winstanley-Chesters

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.121-128

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Panmunjom Regime: a Global Historical Exploration for Peace as Social Solidarity

Cho, Bae-Joon

S/N Korean Humanities :: Vol.1 No.2 pp.129-138

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