Duty-Free in the DMZ? Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, the Heyri Art Valley, and Peace Tourism

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    This article examines how twenty-first-century Anglophone digital art, arts marketing, and tourist discourse in South Korea address the problem of reconciliation after mass violence. At the turn of the new millennium, the arts have been enlisted by governments and tourist agencies to rebrand a global icon of conflict—the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ)—into a place of peace. The arts play an important role as mediating figures between violent histories and commodity pleasures in ways that often collude with a growing capitalist branding of historical conflict for an international market. But cultural sites such as the Heyri Art Valley, a community of artists located near the DMZ, and practicing artists such as Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, who have made Flash animations on Korean conflict, reveal a distinct ambivalence about this role. While aspects of Heyri and Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries seek to articulate a prosocial role for the arts in the shadow of the DMZ, these collectives also complicate and satirize an international desire to reshape the border zone into a symbol of reconciliation. This article shows how the arts can not only foster but also trouble the cultural logic that connects reconciliatory peacemaking to global capitalism.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-81
    JournalSocial Text
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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