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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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“Tan Yanks” and Black Korea

“Tan Yanks” and Black Korea

Military Multiculturalism and Race War in Movies and the Press

(p.53) 2 “Tan Yanks” and Black Korea
The Intimacies of Conflict

Daniel Y. Kim

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes cinematic and journalistic depictions of the Korean War that centered on the role played by African American soldiers serving in integrated combat units. Heroic depictions of “Tan Yanks” in both the mainstream press and black newspapers highlighted the usefulness of an integrated military to the global ideological battle against Communism, especially in terms of winning “the hearts and minds” of the formerly colonized. This chapter demonstrates how the Korean War facilitated the articulation of an early version of the ideology that Melanie McAllister has termed “military multiculturalism,” which is evident in two Hollywood films from the 1950s: Pork Chop Hill (1959) and All the Young Men (1960). This chapter also addresses two strains of Orientalism that also surfaced on the pages of black newspapers: the first expressed an Afro-Asian sense of racial solidarity and intimacy with the Korean people as a nonwhite nation that had suffered under a Japanese colonialism that had been supported by US and European powers prior to World War II; the second took shape as a fascination with amorous relationships that had formed between black servicemen and Japanese female civilians prior to and during the Korean War and the interracial desires they embodied.

Keywords:   African American soldiers, Afro-Asian, interracial desire, intimacy, Japan, Korean War, military integration, military multiculturalism, Orientalism

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