Bodies at War

Since the late nineteenth century, East Asian countries developed into modern sovereign nation-states one by one. These took the varied forms of constitutional monarchy, constitutional democracy, or one-party rule by the Communists. In the reforms, revolutions, and movements, hundreds of thousands of bodies functioned as agents of political campaigns and military courses of action. East Asia was a very important, albeit sometimes overlooked, arena for World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.

Warfare and military deployment had tremendous impact on civilian lives as well as those who served in the armed forces. Both living and deceased bodies testified to the highly charged atmosphere in the region for most of the twentieth century. Many were victimized on the one hand, while other figures were heroicized and idolized, their iconic images celebrated with great fervor.



Image: Mina CHEON (aka Kim Il Soon). American, born South Korea, 1973. Sons of Joseon: Squirt Water Not Bullets! 2013. Acrylic on canvas. 48 x 60 in. (121.9 x 152.4 cm). Purchased in part with the Joan Cohen, class of 1954, fund in honor of Ethan Cohen