Department of Asian Studies
Department of Asian Studies

“Not War/Not Peace: The 60-Year-Old Korean Armistice Under a Nuclear Shadow"

A talk by Dr. Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

Fri, February 7, 2014 | Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago

On July 27, 2013, the Korean War armistice entered its seventh decade. The armistice is just an agreement for a ceasefire; it is not a peace treaty, and therefore never brought a final end to the war. The primary legacy of the armistice is therefore not peace, but continuous threats by the United States as well as by North and South Korea to unleash extraordinary violence. The threats began during the war, in 1951, and have continued down to the present. Discussion of this phenomenon in the American media is so rare as to be virtually nonexistent. The vast majority of Americans and even most well informed people know nothing about it. Yet North Korean leaders have lived for sixty years with a figurative but permanent red glow across their horizons—the recurrent specter of instant nuclear annihilation by the United States. The armistice was forged in the context of American nuclear threats, and sustained ever since by the same methods.

Bruce Cumings's research and teaching focus on modern Korean history, twentieth-century international history, US–East Asian relations, East Asian political economy,and American foreign relations. His first book, The Origins of the Korean War, won the John King Fairbank Book Award of the American Historical Association, and the second volume of this study won the Quincy Wright Book Award of the International Studies Association. He is the editor of the modern volume of the Cambridge History of Korea (forthcoming), and is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, the Nation, Current History, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Le Monde Diplomatique. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and is the recipient of fellowships from the Ford Foundation, NEH, the MacArthur Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study at Stanford, and the Abe Fellowship Program of the Social Science Research Council. He was also the principal historical consultant for the Thames Television/PBS 6-hour documentary, Korea: The Unknown War. In 2003 he won the University of Chicago's award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, and in 2007 he won the Kim Dae Jung Prize for Scholarly Contributions to Democracy, Human Rights and Peace. He has just completed Dominion From Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power, which will be published by Yale University Press. He is working on a synoptic single-volume study of the origins of the Korean War, and a book on the Northeast Asian political economy.

Bookmark and Share