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ISSN : 2384-0668(Print)
ISSN : 2384-0692(Online)
S/N Korean Humanities Vol.5 No.2 pp.33-58
DOI : https://doi.org/10.17783/IHU.2019.5.2.33

Spatializing Imagined Moments of Korean Unification: Arboreal and Topographic Charisma on April 27, 2018

Robert Winstanley-Chesters
University of Leeds and Birkbeck/University of London

Abstract

Territory and landscape are vitally important to both nations currently on the Korean peninsula. Historically both Koreas have contested and imagined the others territory as their own. However, both Koreas have both been forced to consider what the landscape of the other might look like at the moment of or following unification. Occasionally both Koreas have joined together to enact and imagine such moments of unification. This paper in particular considers arboreal elements of geography and topography reproduced at moments of intersection between the two Koreas, and how they are historically framed, imagined and grounded and embodied in real materiality, so they are not just imagined places in the future, but places of imagination in the present. Specifically, this paper focuses on a ceremonial tree planting ceremony on the April 27, 2018 between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in at the April 2019 Inter-Korean Summit held at Panmunjom in the Joint Security Area. Using the work of Denis Cosgrove, Nak-chung Paik, Gilles Deleuze, Heonik Kwon and Byung-ho Chung, the paper places the ceremony and other symbolic elements that day within a wider historical-geographical and transnational frame of the place of trees and topographic features at moments in which both practices of political authority and unification are performed and enacted in Korean history.

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