Over the Mountain: Realism, Reunification, and the Resounding Cold War Across the Two Koreas


Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowships in the History of Art


Institute for Korean Studies


While the Korean Demilitarized Zone stands as a testimony to the violence of the Cold War, the art produced on either side of the 38th parallel has not always neatly corresponded with this bifurcation. Between 1980 and 1994, North Korean state-sponsored artists, and South Korean artists associated with the Minjung (literally “People’s”) democratization movement repeatedly circumvented the division, even illicitly sending their works across the border. Scholars often cite these years as marking the demise of socialist realism in tandem with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of neoliberal network societies. By focusing on the aesthetic affinities that emerged between the work of North and South Korean artists, however, this book argues that realism was mobilized at this critical juncture as a means of destabilizing the Cold War ideological forces dividing the peninsula and shaping the world at large.