[KS] "Pagoda" and Asian chauvinism

Theodore Hughes th2150 at columbia.edu
Mon Feb 26 02:46:20 EST 2007

Dear Mr. Fic,

Thank you for reading my review of the Voice of the Governor General
and Other Stories of Modern Korea. As both an academic and a veteran
of the U.S. Army, I disagree completely, however, with the views you
express in your post. One of the purposes of a review is to
stimulate readers to read the book in question; I sense from your
response that you have not read Hwang Suk-young's "Pagoda," nor
perhaps his “Neighbors,” which is also included in the anthology.
I hoped to give readers a glimpse of the complexity of Hwang
Suk-young's views on the Vietnam War and South Korea's role in it
via my brief discussion of both texts. If indeed you haven't
already, I would very much encourage you to read both short
stories, as well as his later The Shadow of Arms (Cornell
University East Asia Program, 1994). If you have the time, you
might also consider looking at a short article I wrote on The
Shadow of Arms, which is available online at
http://www.changbi.com/english/related/related20.asp. I hope that
this article serves to show both why I disagree with your post and
to give a much fuller picture of Hwang Suk-young's views on the
Vietnam War than I was able to do in the review. If I may, I would
also like to recommend three other texts that I think might help in
an understanding the Vietnam War, pan-Asianism, and global racial
hierarchies: Marilyn Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (Harper
Perennial, 1991); T. Fujitani, Lisa Yoneyama, Geoffrey H. White
eds., Perilous Memories: The Asia-Pacific War(s) (Duke University
Press, 2001); George Lipsitz, The Possessive Investment in
Whiteness: How White People Profit from Identity Politics (Temple
University Press, 1998).


Theodore Hughes

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