Pacific Transformation: The Korean War and Korean-Canadian Engagement since 1950

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Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Friday, October 23, 202010:00AM - 2:30PMExternal Event, Online Event
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(Virtual) Symposium in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Korean War

Symposium program:

10:00 am. Opening remarks and introduction
Korean Embassy: Chang Keung Ryong, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Canada
Bill Graham Center: Jack Cunningham, Program Coordinator of the Bill Graham Centre
Centre for the Study of Korea: Yoonkyung Lee, Director of Centre for the Study of Korea and Associate Professor in Sociology

10:20 am – 12:00 pm. Session 1. Chaired by Don Rickerd (Trinity College, U of T)
Heonik Kwon (Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge): “Experiencing the Korean War”
Andre Schmid (East Asian Studies, U of T): “The Global and Local Significance of the Korean War”
Jack Cunningham (Bill Graham Center, U of T): “Canada’s Korean War”

12:00 – 12:05 pm. Remarks by Mr. Bill Black, President of Korean War Veterans Association Ottawa Unit 7

12:05 – 12:55 pm. Lunch break

12:55 – 1:00 pm. Haegum Performance by Ms. Sosun Suh

1:00 – 2:00 pm. Session 2. Chaired by Yoonkyung Lee (Sociology and CSK, U of T)
Michelle Cho (East Asian Studies, U of T): “K-drama and global publics: Netflix and the case of Crash Landing on You”
Dimitry Anastakis (Rotman School and History, U of T): “Canadian-South Korean trade relations in the 20th and 21stcenturies: Trading places”

2:00 – 2:30 pm. Ambassadors’ address: Chang Keung Ryong (Ambassador the Republic of Korea to Canada): “Leveraging Korea-Canada relations in a post-COVID world”

2:30 pm. Closing

Participant bios and presentation abstracts:

HEONIK KWON is Senior Research Fellow in Social Science and Professor of Social Anthropology at Trinity College, University of Cambridge. He has authored several prize-winning books on the Vietnam War and Cold War social histories, including his new book, After the Korean War: An Intimate History (Cambridge University Press2020).

“Experiencing the Korean War”: What constitutes “experience” in the experience of war continues to be a subject of debate in the social and cultural studies of modern warfare, especially with reference to the 1914-1918 war, a foundational episode of modern Europe and in the history of decolonization. In this talk, I will extend this debate to the theatre of the Korean War, a pivotal episode of modern Koreas and in the history of the postcolonial Cold War. The focus will be on the non-combatant experience of the 1950-1953 war and on the collusion and collision between traditional and modern political subjectivities in the constitution of this historical experience.

ANDRE SCHMID is an Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies where he has taught Korean and East Asian history for over 20 years. He is the author of Korea Between Empire, 1895-1919 (Columbia University Press 2002) and is currently working on a book about the postwar cultural and socio-economic origins of North Korea.

“The Local and Global Significance of the Korean War”: This talk examines the Korean War as a multitude of conflicts working at different, inter-related levels, whether in local spaces around the world or defined in term of its global significance. Moving from 1950s Toronto to the war-torn Korean countryside to the racial politics of global Cold War formations, the presentation weaves together narratives of the war that are not combined in our usual histories of what in Korea is called the 6.25 war.

JACK CUNNINGHAM has a PhD in History from the University of Toronto, where he is Program Coordinator of the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History. He has edited volumes on the recent conflict in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq, and is a former editor of International Journal.

“Canada’s Korean War”: In 1950, Korea was peripheral to Canadian strategic and economic interests. But Communist aggression in Asia raised the spectre of the same in Europe, as well as fears that the United States would be diverted from European security concerns by the sideshow in Korea. At the same time, Korea was a test case for the United Nations and for collective security. As a result, Canada made a substantial contribution to the UN effort in Korea, while trying to balance displays of alliance solidarity with diplomatic efforts to ensure the war neither grew too wide nor lasted too long. At the same time, fears of Soviet aggression in Europe following the attack on South Korea triggered a massive rearmament effort in Canada, focused on Europe, which would ensure that defense remained the ranking demand on the public into the 1960s.

MICHELLE CHO is Assistant Professor of East Asian Popular Culture at the University of Toronto. She has published on Asian cinemas and Korean wave television, video, and pop music in such venues as Cinema Journal, the International Journal of Communication, the Korean Popular Culture Reader, and Asian Video Cultures. She is currently at work on a book about gender, media, and fandom in Korean-wave popular cultures.

“K-drama and global publics: Netflix and the case of Crash Landing on You”: North American television, as we know it, has transformed in the last two decades, away from network television mainly produced in the form of sitcoms, police procedurals, and medical or courtroom dramas, towards serial narratives, with continuous storylines developed across episodes. Alongside this shift towards serial narrative, the notion of “quality television” has changed the way we evaluate TV content, from intentionally mindless entertainment to innovative cultural works. These shifts have been fortuitous for the rise in popularity of Korean television shows in Canada, since Korean narrative television has long been formatted as stand-alone, complete series, with clearly defined beginnings and endings. This talk will focus on the 2019-2020 series Crash Landing on You (Sarangŭipulshich’ak, tvN), a hit, fantasy drama set in a fictionalized North Korea, to discuss the characteristics of Korean television serials that account for their intense binge-ability, and to contextualize the place of Korean television content in our increasingly global media landscape.

DIMITRY ANASTAKIS is the LR Wilson/RJ Currie Chair in Canadian Business History at the Rotman School of Management and in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. A scholar of postwar Canadian business and the economy, his current research projects include finishing a book about the Bricklin SV-1, a car produced in Canada in the 1970s, and embarking on a major research project on postwar Canadian neoliberalism and free trade as part of the SSHRC Partnership Grant, “Deindustrialization and the Politics of Our Time.” As Wilson/Currie Chair, Professor Anastakis’s mandate is to advance the study of Canadian business history at the University of Toronto and in Canada and beyond. He is Chair of the Canadian Business History Association – l’association canadienne pour l’histoire des affaires (CBHA/ACHA), oversees the Business History Reading Group at the University of Toronto, and is general editor of the Themes in Business and Society series from the University of Toronto Press.

Canadian-South Korean Trade Relations in the 20th and 21st Centuries: Trading Places: The history of Canada’s trade relations with the Republic of Korea stretch back much further than the 2014 Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) and include important developments such as the establishment of Hyundai’s short-lived Canadian manufacturing facilities in the 1980s. While trade between the two countries has evolved relatively amicably since the emergence of Korea as a major economic power starting in the 1960s, the nature of the relationship has been marked some important flashpoints, including the 2014 free trade agreement. Indeed, this presentation will focus on some of the key issues that have led to and emanated from this historic trade pact between the two countries—the first FTA signed by Canada with an Asian country.

H.E. CHANG KEUNG RYONG was appointed Ambassador the Republic of Korea to Canada in June 2020.The Ambassador holds a B.A. in Political Science and Diplomacy from Kyunghee University, Seoul, Korea (1980); an M.A. in International Relations from Fairleigh Dickinson University, New Jersey, USA (1984); and a Ph.D. in Political Science from McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1996). He taught political science and international relations at Kwangju Women’s University in Gwangju, Korea (1999-2018). During his tenure at KWU, he held a Visiting Professor Fellowship at McGill University (2014-2015). Ambassador Chang left academia to become a Research Advisor at the Institute for National Security Strategy (2018-2020) while also serving as the Chairman of the International Cooperation Standing Committee for the 19th National Unification Advisory Council. He has received various awards, including the prestigious Korean Presidential Citation (2001). Ambassador Chang is married to SUH Yong Suk. They have two sons.

“Leveraging Korea-Canada relations in a post-COVID world”: Seventy years ago, Canada participated in the Korean War (1950-1953). A decade later, Korea and Canada established formal diplomatic relations in 1963. Since then, Korea’s rapid development, democratic evolution, and growing regional and international interests have enhanced cooperation – politically, economically and culturally – between Korea and Canada. The landmark Korea-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which entered force on January 1, 2015, fostered new avenues of collaboration and innovation, as well as enhancing people-to-people exchanges between the two countries. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose significant challenges for the international community, Korea and Canada have been working closely together to exchange information and best practices; and both countries continue to coordinate closely in response to the virus’s impact on the global economy. With an outlook towards the future, Ambassador Chang will lay out his priorities and prospects for Korea-Canada relations in the upcoming years; including issues of enhancing bilateral security cooperation for improving inter-Korean relations and peace on Korean Peninsula, deepening economic cooperation – particularly in field of AI, and expanding people-to-people exchanges with an emphasis on deepening cultural diplomacy.

DONALD S. RICKERD did his undergraduate work at Queen’s University and St. Andrews University in Scotland and obtained his MA degree in Modern History from Balliol College, Oxford University. He graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School and practiced with Fasken and Co. in Toronto. He served as Registrar and Secretary of the Senate of York University and was an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Administrative Studies. Subsequently he was appointed President of the Donner Canadian Foundation in Toronto and the W.H. Donner Foundation of New York. Mr. Rickerd also served for a number of years as President of the Max Bell Foundation. He is a Research Fellow at the Asian Institute of the Munk School of Global Affairs and a Senior Fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto. Mr. Rickerd has visited the DPRK on four occasions, most recently in October 2014.

YOONKYUNG LEE is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the director of the Center for the Study of Korea at the University of Toronto. She is a political sociologist specializing in labor politics, social movements, political representation, and the political economy of neoliberalism. She earned her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University and was associate professor in Sociology at SUNY-Binghamton (2006-2016) before joining U of T. She is the author of Militants or Partisans: Labor Unions and Democratic Politics in Korea and Taiwan (Stanford University Press 2011) and numerous journal articles that appeared in Globalizations, Studies in Comparative International Development, Asian Survey, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Critical Asian Studies.

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of Korea


Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Canada

Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History


Asian Institute

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