Re-visit of the scene of division

Park Pyeong-jong

In the past several years, a photographer who has captured the social and cultural phenomenons that are unique to Korea, Area Park, displays the photographs with the themes of the scene of national division. The broadly known place for bombing site for the US Military, Marhyang-ri and the place for the US Military base to move to in Daechu-ri, Pyeongtaek, and the area where massive US Military base are densely situated in the Dongducheon area, and they display the appearance of Korea unique under the situation of the division. In fact, the scene of national division has been treated by numerous photographers in the earlier times. There are photographers who have sought the working on the division issues, and there are photographers who are sensitive to the time to emerge certain issued in current affairs. In this point of view, the scene of national division of Area Park is not anything special but ordinary. However, there is nothing ordinary about the appearance of division itself. The same appearance may differ by the person who looks at the situation or the situation of time where the appearance belongs. The division situation is the appearance that we shall not be left along even for a moment for it has the compressed containment of the contemporary history of Korea within the concept.
   The division is not an issue that is ended but is still ongoing in Korea with changes. Not only the international situation or domestic political situation changes around the division but also the social and cultural atmosphere of Korea change and the view of people to look around the division also changes. While all things change, it would be idle to think that the appearance of division to remain the same from 10 years ago or twenty years ago. However, the attitude of people looking into the division situation has not been changed with the past at all. People are accustomed to the situation of division that has been going on for more than half a century. Familiarity brings the calm causes on the familiarized subject, however, on the other hand, it brings the boredom. This is not the boredom that wants to be shake off as soon as possible, but is the boredom not to think anymore for it has the stress of having no changes even when the change is desired. This is the same to the generation that lived through the division situation but also the generation to live only through the story tales. The thinking that the division situation has to be ended is like the ultimate mission for all people who live in the Korean Peninsula, however, the opinion differs for the method to accomplishing the issue. The point of view to see the history of the division differs and the method and time to overcome the division also differ. The reason for continuing the division situation is clear that it intrinsically mingled with the realistic political theory of Korea and overseas. Solution to it has to be found in politics and diplomacy. However, on the other hand, under the conception of people that has to be the foundation to the political theory, the division situation is gradually forgotten and this is very much to be concerned that it could be perpetually with Korea in the years to come.
The artist boldly write to say that he attempts to intervene to the situation of division under the change of time in his note. However, will there be any change for a power-less individual to intervene to the wheels of the vast history in division situation? Perhaps could not even move his foot that he might simply make fun our of his inability or vaguely criticize the lack of interest from the society. In this point, his intervention is full of arrogance and bold courage. Scholars are perhaps analyzing the dynamic relationship of international politics and surrounding countries while the division issues has been forgotten from the memory of people and study the most reasonable way of overcoming the division by finding out the political realism of South and North Korea. However, while doing so, the issue of division has been turned back under the cold reality of time. Now, overcoming of division is not the ultimate mission but is a ‘hot potato’. Perhaps the discussion on the division issues could be the subject of avoidance anytime soon for its realism theory, not for it is idle. Right now, the overcoming of division is mentioned but under the firm reality, but people may easily turn away from the tragedy of the same people. We already had the tragic reality of having to kill our brethren for me to survive in half a century ago. For people of the south of the Peninsula who already know that the intrinsic nature is ahead of the justification under the dire situation, the overcoming of division has become a task difficult to accept. division is a reality, but over overcoming of division has turned into the abstraction. The justification in the overcoming of division is still remained as the habit, but the habit does not lost long before disappearing. The arrogance of the artist comes from the longing to keep its passion as the topic of the time when the issue of division yet to cool down.

The view of the artist on the situation of division is one in ideology. It is found in his attitude of finding the symbols of the division. Marhyang-ri, Daechu-ri and the Dongducheon area where he could landed on are the places where the remains of the cold war ideology and the US imperialism are buried. In fact, for the former generation who had the wound and pain of the division, the ideology is simply a story of moonlighting. For them who have seen the same people dying before their bare eyes and separated from their family and relatives, democracy or communism may have no validity to consider. If the ideology does n bring benefit to human, or not make the justice work, it would not be needed at all. For those people who used the ideology, not as a tool but the goal, the division is the last resolution to co-exist the two irreconcilable ideologies.
   Under the generation that the division issues is thought of as reflecting from the mirror of ideology, the division is inevitably perceived as the byproduct of the cold war ideology. And that is right. However, that is the very reason that the people fell into chaotic situation when they had close eyes on the division issues after the 1980s when the cold war theory was beginning to collapse. The natural theory says that once the cold war era is over, the division situation has to be over naturally, but the division situation has become even worse. If so, the cold war era is not ended but is in new phase or the division situation itself has a great change within. It is up for scholars to do it. However, it is not prudent to leave the issue that has been so desperate only because there are more to concern. The artist observes the scene of national division of the changed time from the scratch. The cliche becomes livid when the time has changed, and the images of division that was not visible has come to the net of our views.
   The symbols of division are scattered around that it is easy to find them. It means that there have been sufficient time passed to budding the seeds for the seed of division has been scattered around. However, it is not easy to recover the clear view after having the idle time of ideology. Therefore, the artist lean back on the ideology again. From the sensitive and fierce to the historic mission in spirit in college days, the artist learned the division issues under the shade of the ideology that it was easier for him. There was a time when the ideology was a belief but perhaps it has become the aimless words of obsolete philosopher drown in the book. They say it is. What can we do with the ideology that could not be the leverage to break out from the reality. Therefore, the scholars study the new ideology and search through the issue from the origin, but the photographer whose diligent foot work is more important than his uncooperating brain would take the obsolete ideology as the source of energy still. It becomes the dynamics to move. That is the reason the artist moves quickly to search for the symbols of division.

While it is sorrowful to have the two part of the land, the appearance of the US Military who came into our land to act as the owner is not only the irritation to our eyes but is disrespectful. Suppressing the war is a real good justification, but looking at this issue closely, it is a theory for maintaining the division and is the byproduct of the cold war theory. In spite of the fact that this is our land, there are many places where our sovereignty can not be asserted, and we do not know how much of our land has been encroached by the virtual theory of war. Furthermore, even more anger comes from that fact that the sovereignty of this land is taken away as well as the people on this land will be the sacrifice of the virtual war occurring on this land. There is not place to cry over, and even if crying over was made, only the empty echo returns that we are living in a place and country without any sovereignty to rely on.
   Marhyang-ri that had long been used as the shooting range and bombing site of the US military displays such a contradiction to the clearest. Already in 1999, Marhyang-ri had received the attention through the photographer, Kang Yong-suk. The land is within our territory but it could not be said as our land and he used the gray color tone for this awkward land situation to present as the symbol of the division era. Time has lapsed and the bombing site is closed, the would is yet to remain without healing and the tragedy is still ongoing on the land. Sea and wetland that have been the life line for the local resident have turned into the virtual battleground and became the destroyed site. The mountain around the sea supposedly with the green plant has been obsolete as if it would be hard to maintain its status quo, and the rusted shells and targets for fire, and the vehicles and bases are all making the monster appearance. The area has become ugly as if it does not seem to have anyone to live. However, although there are scattered broken rocks, rusted piles of metal and others, the grand sky spread over them is still breath-taking beauty. 'Photo 1-2' With so much of humiliation, the broad wetland spread out on to the other side of the island is still precious land. Broad wetland that covers the sea and covers the horizon is still the treasure land of life for those who have been the sacrifice of the virtual war. 'Photo 3'
   The bombing site is closed, but so long as the division to continue, another Marhyang-ri may always occur. In this point of view, we are all victims of potential sacrifice for the division. On the latent theory of sacrifice that is bound without the will of an individual, the division situation has the perception that it is in the quasi-war state. To see the people loving so naturally with the impending war may be from their neglect or lack of intelligence. On the other hand, it is nonsense to have the virtual war to sacrifice people by dividing the land to avoid the war. No one can give clear answer to the possibility of war in the Korean Peninsula. However, preparation for war may be the controlling policy for war, however, it is clearly not the way for ending the division situation whatsoever. If it is truly intended to avoid a war, it would be prudent to end the division instead of relying on the theory of force. In order to do that we have to calmly wait with full breathe. We have to accept what we can accept and we have to talk when we can talk. It is also important to take the attitude to heal the wound and sacrifice. However, the part of our land has to be given away as long as the central role to control the war is under the control of the surrounding country. It simply changes the place with the intrinsic value remains as it. Daechu-ri, Pyeongtaek is the example. Yongsan US Military Station is chased away to outside of the capital with the change of time, but it demands its new home. Unless the US Military fully withdraws, there is no way but to inevitably give way to them. There are some people who take the compensation but they do not represent the intent of all. The voice of the weaker is not really well heard, or not to be listened, that their will is buried underneath but it is not wise to bring in the theory of force into the issue to be resolved in stipulation. When there are conflicting opinions, it is hard to bring out the stipulation. Obviously, sacrifice ensued. However, why do good people always have to sacrifice. Why can't we see the stronger to come forward and be the sacrifice.

On one side, there is the structure of sacrifice caused by the division unyieldingly move around but the other side sees it as the story of far distance away land. People are that much accustomed to the reality of division. These symbols of the division gradually slowed down to awaken the declining historic consciousness but have turned into the scene to enjoy watching. The appearance of division is just a part of the scenes of time. The unification observation tower is the symbol of sorrow of the other part of our land where we could not to even from far distance, but people are busy taking pictures on the background of the splendid view. 'Photo 4' The heart-felt sadness of division is long lost and the appearance itself serves the purposes. the sculpture works on the War Memorial emerged the soldiers who won in the war as heroes. 'Photo 5' However, who would be a winner and who would be a hero in a massacre within the brethren? The difference in ideology that cover up the intrinsic nature of war is cruelly cold. People who are trapped under the ideology and people who have different ideology without moving about as they wish are all considered as enemy in their lives. In a game site of survival, the virtual enemy to be killed is the same Korean people living on the northern side of the Korean Peninsula. 'Photo 6' We have clearly no idea when and how the loving and affectionate people to be changed this way. Enemy means people who cannot be living together. If so, so long as we think of the same people as enemy, the overcoming of division is farther away from the reality. It would be difficult to expect the consistency to people. Caught up in the trap of ideology, they could not see other things.
   The bronze statue in a corner of a closed school is a symbol of the anti-communist ideology. A young boy who did not know what communism is or what ideology is but died for his conviction as another hero in the division era. But, as time flows, the time is that the absorption power of the anti-communism education has been weakened, the mysterious sense surrounding the here has lifted away to remain the poor appearance of it. 'Photo 7' The collapsed housing site has full of weeds and grass, the painting on the statute all peeled off, but no one pays attention to it. The symbol of the anti-communism ideology is no longer having any strength of a symbol, but the protectors of the ideology still remained. Regardless of right or wrong, conviction has the blinded purpose that they look into the world with their own way of thinking with the ideology of right or left. Therefore, they are proud when they become the subjects of public criticism and standing tall when they had the flour poured on them. 'Photo 8' The left-wing ideology who had been hidden in dark place has come forward to the bright world, and the conservative groups who felt that the right-wing ideology has been declined raised their voice but the coherence has lost its strength of the past. 'Photo 9' The time came for their strong backer, the US Military Forces to slowly withdraw.
   After all the US Military stations crowed in the Paju area withdrew, this area has been encountering a drastic changes. The red zone in formed together with the US Military Station had the time of its life that Yongjugol Village was once known as the landmark name for group prostitution zone. Not alone the various social problems coming from it, the destiny of Koreans is so poor and pitiful for they have to rely on these criminals who come to someone else's territory to yell and scream as they wish. Furthermore, they were turned away from their own people under the name of western princes. The government who was quiet when the US Military Station was present suddenly turns into the forcible demon to threaten the livelihood of these women by massive raid on prostitution. How shall be think of that? Not a single excuses make the weak Korean government and its cowardness for their movements in chasing away the powerless citizens. They leave the place, not in a fear of law, but for their own survival. The traces that they left behind are the signs of their poor wandering for the survival. 'Photo 10-11' It is impossible to give trust to people in power who are focusing only on the moves of powerful allies rather than keeping the well-being of their people.
   In the meantime, there is a need to consider whether the defense industry that requiring the astronomical amount of capital to take the military force is that urgent for us at this point of time. Perhaps it is not applicable for all defense industry, but there are closed-curtain deals with lobbying and under the table deals, there would be no trace of concern for the people and the country. There is wide spread of perception that the overcoming of division is not to be made with the theory of power but with the economic theory, however, people would be hard pressed to spend their own money. However, if the condition of the overcoming of division is to meet the minimal balance of economy, purchase of the state-of-the-art weaponry has to be questioned whether it is the way of overcoming the overcoming of division. The dealers of US military suppliers who are the parasites under the cold war theory do not want the cold war structure to end, and they are placing all out efforts to develop the new market. The capitalistic theory is to allow the under the table deals with the group that they defined as their enemies. The air-show with the state-of-the-art F-15 fighter was magnificent that it brought the astonishment of people, 'Photo 12', however, on the back of such splendid showing, there always is something to hide away. The weapons for the next-generation become more and more sophisticated and the exclamation of people heightens with the shade of forgetfulness of the division growing darker.

The scene of national division that the artist present has been seen before with a great familiarity. The time and place may be different, but the appearance that has been continued for more than a half of century would not change suddenly. However, if there is anything that is changed, it is our view toward the division. The reason for the change in attitude is not that the people changed but the time that is changed. Regretable thing is that the situation is not in the direction of urging to overcome the division but to continue the permanent division. People who have lost the interest in the division issue or feeling the idleness on the discussions to overcome the division are not that far away from the people who do not want the overcoming of the division. Overcoming of division will not be made passively, and it is not easy even with the best efforts available. The method of active participation in overcoming the division is to have the ceaseless interests. Lack of interest is the fastest way of reaching the perpetual division. In this point of view, the appearance of our division through the eyes of the artist is the outcome of the heart-touching efforts bringing up the perception of the division issue from the forgetfulness and lack of interest.