Inter-Asia Cultural Studies: Movements

17.1 visual essay
17.1 visual essay



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  »  Issues Contents  2015-12-21 Affirming conflict and identity
Affirming conflict and identity in the Korean peace park (DMZ) proposals
AbstractAccording to their advocates, peace parks represent a real and symbolic hope for peace and reconciliation. Peace parks both create a buffer and a “bridge” for cooperation to generate peace. The South Korean government and elite-led green NGOs are placing the DMZ military buffer zone as a “soft power” peace park instrument for peace between the two Korea’s. The paper argues that the conventional approaches to explaining the Korean DMZ peace park initiatives/proposals fail to address the underlying national identity questions and narratives. These conventional approaches can potentially reinforce conditions for inter-Korean hostility. This is because inter-Korean hostility is based on ongoing contestations from each Korea over what counts as the historically authentic and unified Korean heritage/identity. Contests are also based upon which of the Korea’s has the legitimate right to monopolise these master-narratives of what counts as genuine Korean identity. Further investigations of the practices and processes of (South) Korean identity construction through inter-cultural tensions between the two Korea’s need to be addressed before a peace park as concept and policy can move away from the initiatives that potentially reinforce these contested identity constructions.
Keywords: Peace park, identity, Korea, security, heritage
Author’s biography
Iain Watson is currently Associate Professor at Ajou University, South Korea. Having taught at the United Nations Peace University in South Korea, he gained a Ph.D in International Relations from Newcastle University, UK.

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