ABSTRACT

I provide the reader with a range of shifting political, economic, and other cultural circumstances that configure how traumatic memories of the Korean War have been either forged or undermined in contemporary South Korean society since the 2000s. Novel and avant-garde artistic practices, I argue, can well evince how the postmemory generation can problematize the GÇ£proper,GÇ¥ monolithic representation of history by using more conceptually oriented and critical aesthetic approaches toward the official historical narratives and traditional definition of war memorials. In addition to scholarship in art and literary history and criticism, the existing literature of the Korean War and its victims in humanities, notably cultural study and anthropology has failed to reflect the changing historical context of postwar South Korean society over the last two decades. The installation Monument of the Unknown Soldier at Im's Homecoming Box is particularly notable as it calls our attention to the role of traditional memorials in commemorating war victims, especially amidst the controversies over the South Korean soldier's atrocities in the Vietnam War during the early 2000s. By concentrating on the themes of loss and absence as central tenets of Im's exhibitions and Bring Them Home, I intend to shed light upon the contradictory role that traditional memorials play in remembering and representing war victims and veterans. I strive to see how obscured historical traces, memories, and legacies of the War and its victims have been forged and revisited in contemporary arts and films.