The Council on East Asian Studies presents
Alyssa Park - Associate Professor, University of Iowa:
“Who was a “Refugee”?: Returnees, Northerners, and Relief Societies in Liberated South Korea, 1945-50.”
At the end of the Pacific War in 1945, about 15 percent of Korea’s population was located outside Korea, having been scattered throughout the Japanese empire due to long-term migration and war mobilization. With Japan’s surrender to Allied powers, movement suddenly reversed. Millions entered South Korea, now occupied by the U.S. military, and strained the resources of the newly divided country. This talk discusses who these “refugees” were, the participation of grassroots organizations, U.S. occupation forces, and the public in creating them, and, finally, their significance in the history of postcolonial Korea.
Alyssa Park is associate professor of Korean history at the University of Iowa. She is a historian of modern Korea, with interests in migration, borderlands, and empires in East Asia and Russia. Her first book, Sovereignty Experiments: Korean Migrants and the Building of Borders in Northeast Asia, 1860-1945, examines how the Tumen Valley (at the intersection of present-day North Korea, Russia, and China) came to be divided and imagined as separate national spaces. It is a transnational history that analyzes interactions between Korean migrants and officials living in the region, especially on the Russian side. She is currently working on a book that examines the people who came back to Korea after 1945, along with the internally displaced from the north.