The Korean War and its politics

Authored by: Grace J. Chae

Routledge Handbook of Modern Korean History

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415739313
eBook ISBN: 9781315816722
Adobe ISBN: 9781317811497


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Remembering a war notoriously referred to as one that is “unknown” or “forgotten” carries with it a hefty burden to restore honor to the lives lost and affected by such devastating violence. However, as this war erupted during a volatile and uncertain climate of postcolonial liberation from Japan and escalating Cold War tensions—a time when local and international parties violently clashed over differing political ideologies, motivations, and expectations—its telling is fraught with both complexity and controversy. Restricted or unopened archives, changing memories, and still politically sensitive debates exacerbate attempts to accurately comprehend this moment. There is no one history of the Korean War. Thus, this chapter not only provides a historical overview of general events and significant themes, but also a conscious recognition of how this history has been and continues to be told. In this way, the Korean War’s place in history becomes more than just a historical episode, but one that provides a lasting lesson on how history, politics, and scholarship intersect.

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