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‘Division and Unification’ : The Cultural Reunification of the North and South Korea

  • The Journal of Aesthetics and Science of Art
  • Abbr : JASA
  • 2016, 47(), pp.3-28
  • DOI : 10.17527/JASA.47.0.01
  • Publisher : 한국미학예술학회
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Published : May 31, 2016

Ihn-Bum Lee 1

1상명대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The South-North division of the Korean Peninsula is the outcome of the postwar settlement process effected by the result of the Second World War Ⅱ. Ironically, on behalf of defeated Japan, Korea was divided two and taken over by the United States and the USSR, of which process was heavily politically charged. On the other hand, separated from interference of the religion or political power, the art has established its own realm of autonomy. At least, ‘art for art's sake’ seems to become its own ideology under the capitalist system. Nevertheless, art and the political issues are related in terms of a methodology for reunification which has been suppressed the community of the Korea with regards to following two reasons. First, the unification has something in common with art in terms of its characteristic of creating something new similar to that of poiēsis. Secondly, it is a feeling of consensus that art and the political project of overcoming the division have something in common. However, political reunification does not mean absolute solution. It is because the political intention has less power on the reunification related to contingent cultural phenomenon. The ‘Bild-Streit’ debate is the representative example of this difficult case of how less political power has control over the cultural segregation after German reunification. Created under the control of North Korea's political system, ‘North Korean art’ reveals its heterogeneity with South Korean art in terms of its appearance. Praising war heros and advertising socialist ‘earthly paradise,’ ‘North Korean art’ has been manipulated by North Korean political power and mainly adopted politically charged issues such as statue of the political leader, subject of socialist revolutionary struggle, construction of the new society, and the Korean War. Therefore, one could presume that political reunification and cultural reunion would take a different path in terms of its methodology. It is because the cultural reunion requires more delicate approach, which makes us to think more about the role of art especially in Korea. By alienating such ‘North Korean art’ or objectifying ‘North Korean Realism art’ under the name of the North Korean studies, one would hardly find an adequate solution for the cultural reunification of the South and North. Although North Korea's ‘socialist realism’ art has hardly something in common with neither so called ‘Korean Modernism’ art focusing in abstraction nor ‘Minjungmisul (People's Art)’ concentrating on the the real world problem in South Korea, it is Korean cultural identity that related to both arts of the North and South, which defines the real meaning of the reunification. It is to produce works of art addressing subjects beyond both colonialism and modernism, or to accumulate innovative activities in everyday life by searching for cultual memory and experiences before the division of the North and South Korea that is significant for North and South Korea to build the consensus. Therefore, it is the methodology to the feeling of cultural consensus such as art terms, rehabilitating the life distorted by Modernism, or etc. that would assit for North and South Korea to reunify as a producer of the new construction rather than through the political hegemony. And it is articulation of the role of the art that would be required to accomplish the cultual unification for revolutionary transition of Korea.

Citation status

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