Organized Panel Session
Seven decades after the partition of the Korean peninsula, the thirty-eighth parallel has reemerged as the primary site of negotiation for peace among neighboring and allied countries. From the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration by the leaders of the two Koreas to the 2019 DPRK-US summit at the DMZ, the heavily militarized inter-Korean border has set the stage for face-to-face contacts between the heads of estranged states. As their highly publicized border-crossings gesture toward a process to unravel Korea’s “trilemma of security, alliance, and peace” today (Koo), we are compelled to ask: Whose security, which alliance, and what kind of peace are we talking about?
Pursuing these questions beyond the institutional bounds of policy-making, the panel brings together varied experiences of Cold War (b)orders in and beyond divided Korea, from the 1950s to the 2010s. In exploring discursive claims, material structures, and aesthetic practices built upon the ruins of war, each panelist draws particular attention to liminal spaces where movements across boundaries were imagined and effected, as well as contained and forestalled. Kim traces the manifestation of the “Bandung spirit” in North Korean magazines, noting changes in their representations of peace. Yi relates a vision for traversing Cold War binaries to extraterritorial tropes used in South Korean novels. Eom examines the shifting valences of Chinatown in South Korea under the influence of PRC-ROK relations. Sun locates another intersection between the two Koreas and the two Chinas by comparing Korean and Taiwanese art projects that reclaim a new optics for militarized zones.