Dr. Je-Hun Ryu (Ph.D. Texas Geography 1987) visited his alma mater to present research and catch up with colleagues. He is currently on the faculty of the Department of Geography, Korea National University of Education.
He presented his talk to current graduate students and faculty under the title “Contested Identities in Postcolonial Incheon, South Korea.” The talk focused on how Incheon City (the gateway to Seoul through its airport and seaport) still preserves relic landscapes/places reflecting pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial processes.
Dr. Ryu spoke of the old downtown area, which originated from a concession settlement (1884), and then turned into a colonial city after the Japanese annexation (1910). During the Korean War (1950-52), however, it became a site for American marine forces to operate their landing action. From the mid-1960s, the city began to grow rapidly along with expanding manufacturing zones. Since the opening of the largest international airport in Korea (2001), it has launched a series of development plans to build up a global city. It is, therefore, possible to locate in the city landscapes that record (or commemorate) each of these historical stages.
Dr. Ryu examined past and present discourses of identity, concluding that multiple/divided identities have always been characteristic of Incheon in the Korean national context. After the talk, he engaged in discussion of research in the new cultural geography and Asian Studies with interested graduate students.