The Korean War Remembered: An international Perspective

How is the Korean War remembered by the nations involved in the conflict of 1950-1953? How can a war that is not yet ended be memorialized and consigned to history? Korea remains the “forgotten war” for many Americans – overshadowed by the victory of the “greatest generation” just five years earlier. Even today, as tensions rise on the Korean peninsula, most Americans hold only vague memories of the war’s causes and its significant consequences in shaping the international order of East Asia. The war is ever present, however, in the lives and memories of Koreans living both North and South of the DMZ; and, on a divided Korea peninsula, competing historical narratives vie to establish legitimacy for rival regimes and complicate any effort at reconciliation. Meanwhile, the People's Republic of China holds its own unique understanding of the war and its significance.

This presentation will examine the evolving international memory of the war from June 1950 to the present in an international context. The public memory of the Korean War in the United States, the two Koreas, China and United Nations Command allies will all receive attention. Of special note will be the belated efforts to honor the service of Korean War veterans in the United States, South Korea and elsewhere. As diplomats and political leaders struggle to resolve international conflict, endeavors to memorialize the Korean War have brought to the public a fresh awareness and a greater understanding of the war’s troubled legacy.

 

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