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Monica Kim, The Korean War and East Asia through the Prism of the Interrogation Room

February 21, 2019 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Photo of a U.S. Marine tank following a line of prisoners of war down a village street in Korea, September 26, 1950.

U.S. Marine tank follows a line of prisoners of war down a village street, September 26, 1950. Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain.

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The history of the Korean War from inside the interrogation room is at once both surprisingly ordinary and profoundly global. Tracing two generations of people across the Pacific as they navigated multiple kinds of interrogation from the 1940s and 1950s, this talk lay outs a landscape of interrogation – a dense network of violence, bureaucracy, and migration – that breaks apart the usual temporal bounds of the Korean War as a discrete event. But in 1952, with the US introduction of voluntary POW repatriation proposal at Panmunjom, the interrogation room and the POW became a flashpoint for an international controversy ultimately about postcolonial sovereignty and political recognition. The global ambitions of empire, revolution and non-alignment converged upon this intimate encounter of military warfare: the interrogator and the interrogated prisoner of war. Which state could supposedly reinvent the most intimate power relation between the colonizer and the colonized, to transform the relationship between the state and subject into one of liberation, democracy or freedom?

Speaker Biography: Monica Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at New York University. She works in U.S. and global race relations, modern East Asian and Asian American history, and international legal history. Her book, The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: The Untold History, was recently published by Princeton University Press. She has held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, and was previously a member of the Institute for Advanced Study.


Sarah Miller-Davenport
+44 (0)114 22 22599


Alfred Denny Building: Conference Room
The University of Sheffield, Western Bank
Sheffield, South Yorkshire S10 2TN United Kingdom
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