Saturday, February 1, 2020


While not the main theme of the reading, I wanted to talk about the very first paragraph of the prologue of Viet Thanh Nguyen's Nothing Ever Dies "Vietnam and the Memory of War", specifically the first line "I was born in Vietnam, but made in America". That is perhaps the closest description I have heard to explaining how I felt growing up. Like the author, a part of me never knew what to make of Vietnam as I've always felt this gap of knowledge in terms of the war that brought us here. But even though I knew there was a huge gap in knowledge, to read about the role that South Korea played in the war was surprising. To learn that the Vietnamese people had memories of Koreans being aggressors just as the Americans were and how they were able to benefit from their aggression in terms of earning global influence and transform into a capitalist society at the harm of others was almost heartbreaking. Not only did they carry out these actions, following the war they also suppressed the memory of these events. As someone who was born in Da Nang and has loved it my whole life, I would like to think that I have a decent grasp on the city. But I had never heard of the memorial that was described. And it made sense, it was hidden. The author only found the memorial with some effort and even then, the truth of what happened between the South Korean soldiers and the villagers remain hidden by the South Korean Veterans that built it. This made me wonder, if I, a Vietnamese-American, had no knowledge of what had happened between South Koreans and my people, do Korean-Americans today lack any knowledge of what transpired as well?
Image result for vietnam war memorial da nang
Nguyen, Viet Thanh. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University Press, 2017.

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