Saturday, March 27, 2010

Anti-American Art: Shave and a Haircut

These laughing GIs are doing something unspeakable to a bound Korean prisoner. This and a few other paintings I'll be showing are from the "US War Crimes Museum" in Sinchon, DPRK. They depict scenes from the Korean war but I don't know when the paintings date from. The museum remains today a de rigeur tourist stop for foreign visitors to the world's most isolated state. The Korean War of 1950-1953, still technically unresolved, seems to have left some deep psychic wounds on that nation, perhaps as well it should. Korea was the first nation to fall victim to Japanese expansionism: it was occupied by Japan from 1905 to 1945. It became the first hot conflict in the cold war between the two post-war superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviets were not directly involved in the fighting, unlike their then-allies in the new People's Republic of China who sent hundreds of thouands of troops to drive out American and United Nations forces. It was a brutal war (my late uncle Quentin fought in it) which neither side was able to decisively win.

The torture committed by US forces in the aftermath of its invasion of Iraq puts this depiction of torture in a fresh light.

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