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ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)
S/N Korean Humanities Vol.1 No.2 pp.17-39

Division Trauma of Koreans and Oral Narrative Healing*

Kim, Jong-Kun**
HK Professor, Institute of the Humanities for Unification, Konkuk University
April 30 2015 June 05 2015 July 15 2015.


This article looks into the reality of division trauma through various examples of recounts of war experience of Koreans, and seeks ways to heal that division trauma by focusing on oral narrative methods and contents of the tales. The sources of some irrationalities and conflicts in present day Korean society are division between South and North Korea, and the Korean War. As a result of such tragedy, politico-social conflicts still continue, leaving many scars on the lives of individuals. These scars are referred to as division trauma. Division trauma has a strong collective characteristic because it comes from the division and war experienced by the nation as a whole. Many of the recounts of Korean War experience contain such division trauma and constitute the mainstream of modern oral literature. However, these recounts, depending on how the narrator conveys the story and perceives the relevant event, take on different forms even with regard to same event. There is a coexistence between storytelling based on the narrative of division where the narrator points fingers and criticizes others as perpetrators, and storytelling seeking to become a narrative of integration by objectifying all aspects of an event and narrating it based on feelings of empathy. Oral storytelling aiming to become an integrative narrative, revealing how tragic wars are and how they negate all humanness, can contribute to healing division trauma. If stories with such narrative method can be found, be diffused throughout society and form a discursive space for an integrative narrative, oral narrative healing will become possible.


    Ministry of Education, Science and TechnologyNRF-2009-361-A00008