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Truth and Reconciliation in the Republic of Korea

December 31, 2012
Volume 10 | Issue 54 | Number 20
Article ID 4621

Between 2012 and 2014 we posted a number of articles on contemporary affairs without giving them volume and issue numbers or dates. Often the date can be determined from internal evidence in the article, but sometimes not. We have decided retrospectively to list all of them as Volume 10, Issue 54 with a date of 2012 with the understanding that all were published between 2012 and 2014.


This is the title of a special thematic issue of the Critical Asian Studies journal for December 2010. The following excerpt from an abstract for an introductory essay by Jae-Jung Suh, who has also written for the Asia-Pacific Journal, provides an overview:


The Korean War is multiple wars. Not only is it a war that began on 25 June 1950, 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 Manichean official discourse that pits evil communists against innocent Koreans and that seeks to silence other memories that do not conform. But the hegemonic project remains unfinished in the face of the resiliency embodied in the survivors who have withstood "triple 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. The historical contention over the Korean War constitutes such a political struggle for the future.

The issue is available at the Critical Asian Studies homepage:

The introductory essay by Jae-Jung Suh, "Truth and Reconciliation in South Korea: Confronting War, Colonialism, and Intervention in the Asia Pacific," is available for free.


The remaining articles in the issue (subscriber-only access) are:

  • Kim Dong-Choon, The Long Road toward Truth and Reconciliation: Unwavering Attempts to Achieve Justice in South Korea 
  • Suh Hee-Kyung, Atrocities Before and During the Korean War: Mass Civilian Killings by South Korean and U.S. Forces 
  • Charles J. Hanley, No Gun Ri: Official Narrative and Inconvenient Truths 
  • Jeon Seung-Hee, War Trauma, Memories, and Truths: Representations of the Korean War in Pak Wan-so's Writings and in "Still Present Pasts" 
  • Lisa Yoneyama, Politicizing Justice: Post-Cold War Redress and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission 

Related content at the Asia-Pacific Journal includes: