Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea

Crossing the Divide

By (author) Nan Kim

Publication date:

02 November 2016

Length of book:

284 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739184714

Drawing on reinterpretations of melancholia and collective remembrance, Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea: Crossing the Divide explores the multi-layered implications of divided Korea's liminality, or its perceived "in-betweenness" in space and time. Offering a timely reconsideration of the pivotal period following the inter-Korean Summit of June 2000, this book focuses on a series of emotionally charged meetings among family members who had lost all contact for over fifty years on opposite sides of the Korean divide. With the scope of its analysis ranging from regional geopolitics and watershed political rituals to everyday social dynamics and intimate family narratives, this study provides a lens for approaching the cultural process of moving from a disposition of enmity to one of recognition and engagement amid the complex legacies of civil war and the global Cold War on the Korean Peninsula.
This is the finest book I know on the intricate politics and social situation of Korean separated families. Relying ably on a mix of historical and ethnographic methods, and drawing on perspectives ranging from psychoanalytic treatments of mourning to ritual theory, Kim moves from the origins of family separation before and during the Korean War and the political classifications it entailed to various attempts to reunite such families across the North-South divide. The book culminates with an on-the-spot examination of the series of reunions that began in the year 2000, at a moment of hope for broader inter-Korean rapprochement, which Kim persuasively argues was also a crucial event in the reckoning of national kinship. In turns critical, analytically innovative, and moving, Kim’s work deserves to be read by every student of the modern Koreas.