In this presentation I will explore the relationship between affect, ethics and transitional justice by examining how South Korean society has dealt with the violent histories that occurred during the Japanese colonial period (1910-1945) and the postcolonial period. In particular, I will examine the South Korean application of the notion of transitional justice in the handling of the politically entangled Comfort Women issue that has strained the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and Japan and the politicization and controversy over the Kwangju democracy movement, the ten-day armed confrontation between the citizens of Kwangju and the military that produced both civilian and police/military casualties.
The questions I raise will include whether the measures of transitional justice, such as truth telling, achieve reconciliation among the divided communities. Further, what may be imagined for reconciliation and peace to be achieved among the divided communities so that the deep-seated distrust and trauma can be healed and broken relationships restored. I imagine affect and ethical considerations as crucial elements that may contribute to the effectivity of the legal execution of justice.
Chungmoo Choi is Professor of Korean Studies in the East Asian Studies Department at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Healing Historical Trauma in South Korean Film and Literature (Routledge, 2020) and co-editor/translator of Voices of the Korean Comfort Women: History Rewritten from Memories (Routledge, forthcoming in 2022).