This introductory chapter frames the post-1945 South Korean literary movement within the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945 under the Soviet and U.S. military occupations in North and South, as well as the subsequent inauguration of separate, competing sovereign regimes in 1948—the organization of the colonial past and the excision of the North thus set in motion a multilayered, shifting politics of what could be seen or spoken. In particular, Cold War South Korean statism (itself a rearticulation of the colonial statism that preceded it) relied on a visual order increasingly bound up, in turn, with the biopolitics of “free world” developmentalism. Within this context, post-1945 cultural forms find ways to address the display of “South Korea” as a postcolonial, developmentalist space at once opposing and mirroring its northern counterpart in the global Cold War.
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