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Divided: Four States, One Imagination - Discourses on National Division and Unification in Korea and Germany


The dissertation “Divided: Four States, One Imagination” analyzes discourses on national division and unification in Korea and Germany. It investigates novels and films in Korea and Germany depicted the relation of the individual and society from the formation of new states to the heights of ideological conflict until the restructuring of the world order in the post-Cold War era. In my first and second chapter I analyze two early works of division literature, Uwe Johnson’s Mutmassungen über Jakob (Speculations about Jakob) and Ch’oe In-hun’s Kwangjang (The Square). They depict the quest for an ideal society where the tension between individual and state is resolved. I argue that in both novels the protagonists’ idealism clashes with the reality of division, which is formally represented through the attempt of a dialectic move failing to come to a synthesis due to the lack of a third option. The third chapter discusses impeded communication in the novels Somun ŭi pyŏk (Wall of Rumors) by Yi Ch’ŏng-jun and Der Mauerspringer (The Wall Jumper) by Peter Schneider. In an oppressive environment, which Paik Nak-chung called a “division system,” I claim, that the characters unsuccessful rejection of interpellation via ideology in protest of a coerced choice exposes the complicated relationship between individual and state. The fourth chapter discusses identity and life narratives in the post-cold war era by putting Brigitte Burmeister’s Unter dem Namen Norma (Code Name: Norma) as a post-unification novel and Kim Nam-ho’s Mannam (Meeting), a North Korean unification novel, in the context of the post-socialist world order. In my last chapter I analyze the depiction of border-space as Foucauldian “heterotopia” in the films Kongdonggyŏngbiguyŏk JSA (dir. Park Chan-wook, Joint Security Area), and Der Himmel über Berlin (dir. Wim Wenders, Wings of Desire). The action of the characters is defined by these places as they try to pass through a liminal stage to attain unity.

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