Events

Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea

September 23, 2013 // 9:30am11:00am
Event Co-sponsors: 
Cold War International History Project
History and Public Policy Program
Asia Program

Sixty years after North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea, the Korean War has not yet ended. Sheila Miyoshi Jager presents the first comprehensive history of this misunderstood war, one that risks involving the world’s superpowers—again. Her sweeping narrative ranges from the middle of the Second World War—when Korean independence was fiercely debated between Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill—to the present day, as North Korea, with China’s aid, stockpiles nuclear weapons while starving its people. At the center of this conflict is an ongoing struggle between North and South Korea for the mantle of Korean legitimacy, a “brother’s war,” which continues to fuel tensions on the Korean peninsula and the region.

Drawing from newly available diplomatic archives in China, South Korea, and the former Soviet Union, Jager analyzes top-level military strategy. She brings to life the bitter struggles of the postwar period and shows how the conflict between the two Koreas has continued to evolve to the present, with important and tragic consequences for the region and the world. Her portraits of the many fascinating characters that populate this history—Truman, MacArthur, Kim Il Sung, Mao, Stalin, and Park Chung Hee—reveal the complexities of the Korean War and the repercussions this conflict has had on lives of many individuals, statesmen, soldiers, and ordinary people, including the millions of hungry North Koreans for whom daily existence continues to be a nightmarish struggle.

The most accessible, up-to date, and balanced account yet written, illustrated with dozens of astonishing photographs and maps, Brothers at War will become the definitive chronicle of the struggle’s origins and aftermath and its global impact for years to come.

Joining Jager on the panel as commentator will be Gregg A. Brazinsky, Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University.

Sheila Miyoshi Jager earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago. She has written extensively on modern and contemporary Korean politics and history and is the author and coeditor of two previous books on Korea and East Asia. She is an associate professor and director of the East Asian program at Oberlin College in Ohio, where she lives with her husband and children.

Gregg A. Brazinsky is a specialist on U.S.-East Asian relations during the Cold War. His work focuses on the social and cultural impact of the United States on East Asia. His first book, Nation Building in South Korea, examines why South Korea was among the few post-colonial nations to achieve economic development and political democracy. It is the first monograph on the subject to use both American and Korean source materials. He received a Kluge Fellowship from the Library of Congress and grants from the Association for Asian Studies and the Sigur Center to do work on this project. Brazinsky is now pursuing research on several other projects. One is a study of the cultural impact of the Korean War in America, Korea and China. Another focuses on Sino-American competition in the Third World during the Cold War. In particular, he is interested in comparing the approaches to nation building that the two countries used. He has been awarded a grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation for this research. He co-directs GW's Cold War Group.

Location: 
5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Charles Kraus // Program Assistant
  • Roy O. Kim // Program Assistant