Suhi Choi, Assistant Professor of Communication, recently published an essay, “Standing between intransient history and transient memories: The statue of MacArthur in South Korea,” in Memory Studies Online First on September 7, 2012, and will appear in print in a forthcoming issue of the journal.
This essay introduces the notion that a statue, reconfigured in time and space, has a strong potential to become a dissenting medium that effectively re-imagines subversive memories to confront consensual notions of the past event. Since its inception in 1957, the statue of General Douglas MacArthur at Incheon City in South Korea has been a robust signifier of the American rescue mission during the Korean War that originally was meant to evoke gratitude among South Koreans. Yet, South Korean activists in 2005 took iconoclastic actions against the statue, calling the public’s critical attention to both MacArthur’s actions and to the role of the United States during the Korean War. This case study reveals how a statue, in its surrounding space, can embrace conflicting gestures that audiences from two different generational and ideological positions simultaneously perform.