On 27 July 1953, after three years of armed conflict that claimed the lives of more than 3 million civilians, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice to ensure the cessation of war on the Korean peninsula until a final peace agreement was reached, which has yet to be achieved. So technically the two nations are still at war.

In the eighth decade of this endless war, the Ending the Korean War Teaching Collective (EKW) has organized a series of events to explore the need for political education as an anti-imperialist tool against perpetual war in the militarized geographies that span Korea and the nonviolent Pacific.

On 4 April, the University of Maryland in the United States will host a discussion on “Critical Geographies of the Endless Korean War: From Pyongyang to Vieques,” in which leading professors and activists will explore how to unravel the lines of continuity between “militarized spaces” from the 38th parallel to diasporic sites beyond the Korean peninsula; how to understand the multi-scale geographies of the Korean War; and where the effects of the war are located and how they converge, collapse and negotiate the macro and micro effects of imperialism.

This will be followed by a second panel entitled ‘Political Education Against Empire Now’, which will focus on the perspectives of young academics from the Ending the Korean War Teaching Collective and political organizers and activists from the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) coalition and Nodutdol, who have brought together research and political activism with the aim of dismantling empire.

Rather than understanding the Korean War as an event in the specific past of Korea and Koreans, these sessions aim to generate an analysis of the far-reaching structural consequences throughout the nonviolent Pacific that are rarely identified with the war itself.

Through a prismatic lens, this symposium offers a new perspective on the biopolitical aftermath of the Korean War (family separation, the international adoption industry, militarized prostitution, queer diasporas, race relations in the United States), its shadow geographies (South Korea, Guåhan, Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico), and its infrastructural significance (the military-industrial complex, the national security state, the base empire, the imperial university).

The invitation is to collectively construct a multi-pronged approach to ending the Korean War once and for all through critical pedagogies in academia and community organizing.

The sessions at the University of Maryland (UMD) will be followed the next day by a political action at the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC.

In collaboration with the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) coalition and Nodutdol, the action will provide participants with a critical context and alternative perspectives to the state memory enshrined in the Korean War Memorial.

Rather than a US-centric, imperialist commemoration that avoids the asymmetrical brutality of the war, its ongoing nature, and widespread consequences, this action will incorporate and implement the previous day’s discussions on political education and human rights.

Meanwhile, the Korean people, like all other peoples colonized by the lust for wealth, power, and geopolitical calculation, yearn for an end to this and all wars.