Ko Un is one of South Korea's most important writers of the past 50 years, and a poet whose work provides important insights into crucial linkages between language, identity and community. He lived through, chronicled and critically engaged most of the traumatic events his nation faced during the last century: a brutal colonial occupation by Japan; the division of the peninsula into communist North and capitalist South; an unusually devastating fraternal war; the integration of the divided peninsula into global Cold War politics; periods of authoritarian rule on both sides; and the more recent challenge to promote reconciliation. Some of these episodes challenged the very existence of Korea as a people, nation and state. Ko Un's poetry was part of a larger effort to regain a sense of being and national identity in the face of turmoil, war and globalisation. We argue that by engaging with these highly political issues Ko Un's work provides important clues about how to articulate notions of identity and community in a way that empathetically portrays other people and their identities. In doing so he offers an alternative to the prevailing inside/outside logic that often leads to problematic forms of nationalism.
Field of Research
160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified 160607 International Relations 210302 Asian History
Socio Economic Objective
940399 International Relations not elsewhere classified