Fictional International Relations: Gender, Pain and Truth (Hardback) book cover

Fictional International Relations

Gender, Pain and Truth

By Sungju Park-Kang

© 2014 – Routledge

170 pages

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Hardback: 9780415718615
pub: 2014-04-22
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315869711
pub: 2014-06-05
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This book proposes the idea of fictional International Relations (IR) and engages with feminist IR by contextualising the case of a woman spy in Korea in the Cold War.

Fictional imagination and feminist IR encourage one to go beyond conventional or standard ways of thinking; it reshapes taken-for-granted interpretations and assumptions. This takes the view that a dominant narrative of events might be reconstructed as a different kind of story, once events are placed within a wider temporal approach. The case of the woman Korean secret agent- who reportedly bombed a South Korean plane (Korean Airlines (KAL) Flight 858) under the instruction from the North Korean leadership to disrupt the Seoul Olympic Games- is chosen to serve as an effective example of fictional IR and feminist IR scholarship, which can be investigated through the research puzzles concerning gender, pain and truth.

Fictional International Relations has three main objectives. First, it investigates the way in which fiction-writing can become a method for dealing with data problems and contingency in IR. Second, the book examines how gender, pain and truth operate or interact in the case of the Korean spy and how this observation can strengthen feminist IR in terms of intersectionality. Finally, the author goes on to explore why this case has been so difficult to study openly and thoroughly. The aim of the book is not to refute the official findings; the point is to unpack complex dynamics surrounding truth—more specifically how the official account has been executed as ‘the’ truth—based on a feminist-informed investigation.

This book will be of interest to students of IR theory, critical security studies, Cold War studies, gender studies and Asian studies.


' "Fictional International Relations" may sound like an oxymoron, but it isn't. Reading Sungju Park-Kang's innovative case study of the mysterious cold war downing of flight KAL 858 makes me realize anew how much we all try to make sense of politics amidst uncertainty, how much we employ imagination to make that sense, and how much a feminist curiosity aids us in that daunting effort. I recommend Fictional International Relations to all readers who are candid enough to admit that international politics is riddled with uncertainties.' -- Cynthia Enloe, Clark University, USA

‘The most important part which I liked in the book was that the author, while compiling his case study, also summarised his limitations in the penultimate chapter, leaving the final chapter as a fictional ending, nudging the realm of the imaginary character ‘Olight Jung’ to take up the case once again.’ -- Sadaf Iqbal, Political Studies Review

Table of Contents

A letter of survival 1. A mysteriously sorry story 2. The (too hot to be) cold war and KAL 858 3. Fictional International Relations 4. Fiction: Sister, I am sorry 5. Feminist IR towards intersectional politics 6. The gender bomb-shell in KAL 858 7. The pain mosaic in KAL 858 8. The truth trouble in KAL 858 9. Becoming an IR detective 10. Fiction as another conclusion

About the Author

Sungju Park-Kang is Assistant Professor at the Institute for Area Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands.

About the Series

War, Politics and Experience

This series will publish interdisciplinary, single-authored and edited volumes that address the experiences of war and the everyday politics of war-making that shape and are shaped by those experiences. These works will push boundaries of knowledge and disciplinarity by offering new, theoretically sophisticated, and empirically rich approaches to understanding the experiential politics of war in the post-World War II period.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies