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‘Difficult Heritage’ in Nation Building: South Korea and Post-Conflict Japanese Colonial Occupation Architecture

Publisher: , 2019
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

This book explores South Korean responses to the architecture of the Japanese colonial occupation of Korea and the ways that architecture illustrates the relationship between difficult heritage and the formation of national identity. Detailing the specific case of Seoul, Hyun Kyung Lee investigates how buildings are selectively destroyed, preserved, or reconstructed in order to either establish or challenge the cultural identity of places as new political orders are developed. In addition, she illuminates the Korean traditional concept of feng shui as a core indigenous framework for understanding the relationship between space and power, as it is associated with nation-building processes and heritagization.

By providing a detailed study of a case little known outside of East Asia, ‘Difficult Heritage’ in Nation Building will expand the framework of Western-centered heritage research by introducing novel Asian perspectives.

Hyun Kyung Lee is a post-doctoral research fellow working on the Academy of Korean Studies-funded research project “Beyond the Cold War, towards a community of Asia” at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, University of Cambridge, UK and Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University, South Korea. In collaboration with her Taiwanese colleague Shu-Mei Huang, she is preparing a monograph on the remembering of punishment in post-colonial Asian cities.


  1. The Problematic Past and Difficult Heritage: The Japanese Colonial Occupation of Korea and Its Architectural Legacies
  2. Mapping the Memories of the Japanese Colonial Occupation of Korea (JCO)
  3. Seodaemun Prison: From Symbol of Fear and Violence to Symbol of Freedom and Victory
  4. Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Japanese Government-General Building (JGGB): Power Struggles and the Contested Places of Korean National Identity
  5. Dongdaemun Stadium: Between Korean Tradition, Colonial Memory, and Dreams for the Future
  6. South Korean Responses to Japanese Colonial Occupation Architecture (JCOA)
  7. Conclusion: The Role of Difficult Heritage in Nation Building in South Korea

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