Monday, December 21, 2015

What to do with those 'simply divine' statues of the Kim family . . .

I received my free copy of the Journal of Peace and Unification (Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2015) - which the Institute of Unification Studies sends me as partial recompense for my work as copy editor - and I want to call attention to an interesting problem that had never occurred to me, namely, what to do after re-unification (if and when that happens) with all those Kim family statues that have popped up like toadstools all over the North.

Because the issue had never occurred to me before, I'd of course never given it a moment's thought, but we are fortunate to have Professor B. R. Myers, of Dongseo University, with an entire article's worth of reflection on the issue, titled, "Memory Politics in a Unified Korea: Applying European Lessons to the Problem of Political Statuary," and below is his summary:
The following paper approaches the issue of memory politics in a unified Korea by focusing on what is likely to be the most contentious problem, namely, what to do with the numerous statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il that now stand in North Korea. Referring both to recent South Korean research as well as the historical experiences of Germany and Estonia, the paper argues for a compromise between those two countries' approaches. According to this proposal, the central government would remove most of the problematic statues in a discreet and orderly manner, as opposed to the German practice of letting regional and municipal governments decide their fate. But in contrast to the central-government intransigence that led to deadly rioting in Estonia in 2007, a few statues of Kim Il Sung as a young anti-Japanese fighter should be left where they are, albeit with new plaques, in emulation of the German solution, that subject them to re-interpretation.
By the end of the article, you'll likely be persuaded that Myers is right about an issue that you've never thought about before . . . unless you're one of those who have (and you too will also be convinced).

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At 12:22 PM, Blogger Sperwer said...

what happened in Estonia?

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I've sent you an excerpt.

Jeffery Hodges

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