ABSTRACT

This chapter looks into the placeness of DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between South and North Korea as one significant barometer through which one can see the obscured historical significance of the tragic memories of the Korean War, especially with the advent of ecotourism in the area. From the mid- 2000s, the progressive South Korean government had launched its plan of accelerating the real estate development between Seoul and the Borderline (also known as the Northern Gyeonggi-do) and transforming the DMZ area from a historical site deeply associated with the Korean War to a user-friendly place for hiking and cycling trails. Relying on Marc Auge’s theory of non-place, this chapter first criticizes the South Korean Government’s top-down cultural policy of promoting an ecological and peaceful image of the DMZ area. In order to challenge the homogenized and fixed notion of DMZ’s placeness, this chapter further delves into notable participatory art works of the Real DMZ Project between 2014 and 2015 such as Hayoun Kwon’s 489 Years, Youngjoo Cho’s Demilitarized Goddess and Jisun Shin’s Contemplating Landscape, and, finally, Minouk Lim’s Monument 300 (2014). In Lim’s Monument 300, in particular, the ordinary public visited the Waterworks Center inside the DMZ, the historical site for the massacre against 300 civilians, and searched for the imaginary traces of these victims, as fabricated by the artist. Such a process is important to understand the role of arts by the postmemory generation whose imaginary projections and empathic participation are vital to the representation and remembrance of historical tragedies—as defined by Marianne Hirsch’s theory of postmemory.