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June 24 , 2009

Embattled Memories

Contested Meanings in Korean War Memorials


The Korean War has been called the “forgotten war,” not as studied as World War II or Vietnam. Choi examines the collective memory of the Korean War through five discrete memory sites in the United States and South Korea, including the PBS documentary Battle for Korea, the Korean War Memorial in Salt Lake City, and the statue of General Douglas MacArthur in Incheon, South Korea. She contends that these sites are not static; rather, they are active places where countermemories of the war clash with the official state-sanctioned remembrance. Through lively and compelling analysis of these memory sites, which include two differing accounts of the No Gun Ri massacre\ – contemporaneous journalism and oral histories by survivors\ – Choi shows diverse narratives of the Korean War competing for dominance in acts of remembering. Embattled Memories is an important interdisciplinary work in two fields, memory studies and public history, from an understudied perspective, that of witnesses to the Korean War.

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