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The Intimacies of ConflictCultural Memory and the Korean War$
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Daniel Y. Kim

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781479800797

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479800797.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM NYU Press SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.nyu.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of NYU Press Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NYSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

“He’s a South Korean When He’s Running with You, and He’s a North Korean When He’s Running after You”

“He’s a South Korean When He’s Running with You, and He’s a North Korean When He’s Running after You”

Military Orientalism and Military Humanitarianism

Chapter:
(p.31) 1 “He’s a South Korean When He’s Running with You, and He’s a North Korean When He’s Running after You”
Source:
The Intimacies of Conflict
Author(s):

Daniel Y. Kim

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479800797.003.0002

Through a carefully contextualized analysis of Samuel Fuller’s 1951 film The Steel Helmet, this chapter illuminates several tropes that circulated in contemporaneous US depictions of the Korean War: an interracial group of US soldiers, a Korean orphan, and enemy soldiers who disguise themselves as refugees and routinely violate other rules of war. In this movie are the remnants of a prior racial ideology that had demonized the entire Japanese population during World War II and the emergence of a new one that emphasized lawfulness as the primary criteria that could distinguish between subjects of color—both American and Asian—who were loyal and those who posed a threat. As this film demonstrates, the integration of the US military, and particularly the incorporation of Japanese American and African American soldiers into formerly all-white units, became vital during the Korean War to US assertions of its own ethical superiority over the Communist enemy, as was its soldiers’ humanitarian commitment to protecting Korean civilians—especially orphans. Ultimately, this chapter demonstrates how The Steel Helmet both crystallizes the emergent racial ideologies of US Cold War liberalism—especially their legalistic aspects in regards to war and their espousal of military multiculturalism—and then shatters them.

Keywords:   African American soldiers, Cold War, humanitarianism, Japanese American soldiers, Korean War, laws of war, liberalism, military integration, military multiculturalism, Orientalism

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