A Comparative Study on Civilian Representation in the Korean War-Focusing on the “Landing” of Tanaka Gomimasa and the “Railroad” of Gwak Hak-song
The Korean War was a civil war between South Korea and North Korea, and an intense international war created during the global establishment of the Cold War order after World War II. Several countries and nations involved in the political arena built a new sphere of power, leaving behind a complex series of historical events, meanings, and past values. The surface layer of this relationship was embodied in the name of the ideological confrontation between the free camps and communist camps. The reason why the Korean Peninsula was divided into friendly and enemy forces came about as a result of ideology. When the essential and sufficient conditions to ensure the inevitability of the war are the existence of the ‘enemy’, the enemy’s identity during the Korean War was extracted from the abstraction area called, ‘ideology.’ In terms of the dispositif which Agamben refers to, the “dispositif of war” which triggered the Korean War consisted of a framework of international dynamics and anti-communist ideology. In the context of this dispositif, there is no inevitable causality between an idea and an action. When ideas dominate practice, the incomprehensibility of specific situations and the absurdity of violence will arise. As this ideology waged war, it was inevitable that numerous civilians would be harmed in the process. The narratives of civilian victims, which have still not been properly discussed in official historical outlets for many years, have left traces of evidence in the form of literary works, testimonies, and handwritten artifacts. Critically examining the scope of this situation, this paper compares and analyzes the ‘Landing’ by Tanaka Gomimasa (“Sigma”, 1957) and Haksong’s “Railroad” (“Transportation”, 1955-1956).
In the “landing” of Tanaka Gomimasa, civilians who were not willing to participate in the war, were coerced by powerful figures and forced to board a ship bound for Korea in order to participate in forced farming. These events are related to Japanese civilians' participation in the war, which was implicitly present during the Korean War. In Gwak Hak-song's “Railroad,” the protagonist shows that both the South and the North show a governance structure that attempts to subjugate people to an ideology without respect and protection for the individual's individuality. Both works expose the mechanism by which civilians are caught in war by the ‘dispositif’ of government. Furthermore, it is common to see that civilians are not frustrated by such a ‘dispositif’ and come out of it, that is, show a way of being as a non-governable person. The characters of “Landing” voluntarily decide to disembark, and the protagonist of “Railroad” does not obey the decisions of the rulers when it comes to real issues, and does not stop judging his own values until the end. Through the representations of civilians in these works, we are confronted with the possibility of expanding the field of a problem consciousness that is necessary to secure a transnational perspective, confirming the reality of the Cold War regime and the national violence that caused the Korean War.