This book explores the history of the Jeju massacre (1947-1954), the deadest recognized civilian massacre in modern South Korean history, through the lens of state building in South Korea. Jeju-based sociologist Gwisook Gwon examines the massacre on Jeju Island in relation to the birth of anti-communist South Korea in the early Cold War, while also focusing on the reintegration of Jeju Islanders into the state through the history of Jeju soldiers in the Korean War (1950-1953) and the history of Jeju women in the economic recovery and modernization between the 1950s and the 1970s. The study of these post-massacre legacies is novel to South Korean history. The book also discusses the on-going reconciliation of the 4.3 historical conflicts and the transformation of Jeju into an “Island of World Peace.” This fresh and original study offers an empirical example of state-building processes at the local level in South Korea from the origin of the state to its democratization. In doing so, it contributes to several fields, including, the Korean War, state violence, conflict resolution studies, gender studies, and Asian and Korean studies.
Gwisook Gwon has written a sophisticated work which contributes significantly to our understanding of the history of Jeju and its complicated relationship to the evolution of the South Korean state. The book is based on in-depth research from several decades living on the island, and draws on many original documents and oral interviews. It will attract readers interested in Jeju as well as in societal efforts to overcome the legacies of violence in modern Korea’s tortured past.
With breathtaking ocean views from one of the most beautiful Korean islands, Jeju's natural beauty hides a devastating truth. Gwisook Gwon shares the heartrending story of the Jeju 4.3 Massacre that everyone must know—a social history of political violence and its aftermath, showing in stark detail the terrible costs of the Korean War and the tenacious resilience of ordinary people in their search for truth and justice.
Based on a wide variety of primary sources, including fascinating interviews with participants, The Island of World Peace is a comprehensive history of the civil war on Jeju Island, from the self-governing committees that arose in 1945 through the bloody conflict that began in 1948, finally to the reconciliation that occurred after South Korea democratized.
Gwisook Gwon, an acclaimed scholar of memory politics on Jeju Island, has written a compelling and meticulously researched study of "Jeju sasam," also known as 4.3 or April 3rd, which refers to not a single day but rather a complex series of historical events beginning in 1948: a local uprising for self-determination suppressed by US-backed South Korean rightists in a violent crackdown which expanded island-wide into a brutal counterinsurgency campaign, resulting in mass killings of civilians until 1954 and known collectively as the Jeju Massacre. Exploring the multiple dimensions of Jeju 4.3, The Island of World Peace further traces the efforts to overcome decades of ideologically charged silence surrounding these events. A long time resident of Jeju, where she continues to live, the author draws upon extensive interviews with survivors of the Jeju massacres as well as with activists who have advocated for historical redress through processes of transitional justice in South Korea during the period since democratization.
9/9/21, Choice: This book was included in a feature highlighting forthcoming Asian and Asian American Studies titles.