IKS Lecture: Dr. Daniel Kim "Nationalist Frames of Memory and the Korean War: The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian and The War Memorial of Seoul"
IKS is pleased to host Dr. Daniel Kim, associate professor of English at Brown University, to speak on "Nationalist Frames of Memory and The Korean War: The National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian and The War Memorial in Seoul."
A curious similarity between two state-sponsored sites of historical memory examined in this lecture-- the War Memorial of Seoul and the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC-- is that both present the Korean war as an event whose meaning is discernible only insofar as it is contextualized in relation to other wars. In The Price of Freedom: Americans at War, a permanent exhibit at the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian, the Korean War section comprises a small corner room that sits between the monumental exhibits devoted to the Second World War and the Vietnam War. That conflict is reduced to either an echo or foreshadowing of another war, its meaning crowded out by the other, more significant conflicts that preceded and followed it. Ironically, a similar dependence on framing characterizes the place of the Korean War in the War Memorial of Seoul. While the conflict functions as the centerpiece and climactic event in that exhibit, the sections devoted to a centuries-long history of repelling foreign invaders as well as to the South Korean involvement in Vietnam are in fact indispensable to explaining the Korean War's significance.