Uncovering the Agency of Unknown Armistice Maps: The First Iteration


Dongsei Kim's mapping project with Jack Isles (Illustrations) "Uncovering the Agency of Unknown Armistice Maps: The First Iteration" in the Making Border: Afterimages and Projections group exhibition at DNA Gallery, Berlin, Germany, 2015 (Print on canvas, 4756 x 841 mm). 

This work builds on top A Construct The Koreas (Never) Made Together: Deconstructing the DMZ For The Imaginary(Kim, 2014). It is a first installation of a new long-term interdisciplinary project involving the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsula. Essentially, the long-term project makes available the unknown maps of the Armistice Agreement of 1953 that gave birth to the DMZ.

These underexposed twenty-two maps are included in Volume II - Maps of the Armistice Agreement that accompanies the Armistice Agreement - Volume I, Text of Agreement. In this “Text of Agreement,” Article I-1 describes how the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) will be fixed and how both opposing forces will withdraw two kilometers from this line to establish the DMZ. Following this, Article I-2 states, “The Military Demarcation Line is located as indicated on the attached map (Map 1).” Further, Article 1-3 states, “The Demilitarized Zone is defined by a northern and a southern boundary as indicated on the attached map (Map 1).” However, because these detailed color maps are large in size ranging from 73 x 53 cm to 104 x 53 cm, almost all of the publications that include the entire text of the Armistice Agreement completely omit the “attached maps.”

The primary purpose of this long-term project is to uncover and make available the mostly forgotten Armistice Agreement maps of the DMZ to the public and further research. This first iteration focuses on the first nine maps 1-1 to 1-9 that depict the MDL and the DMZ at 1:50,000 scale. These 1953 maps are then juxtaposed to readily available 2015 Google Earth satellite images that are identical in location and scale. These juxtapositions start to reveal the contradictory nature of maps. These incongruous relationships between the real and the represented; exposure and concealment; accentuated and omitted are unfolded.

Furthermore, the interpretive mapping element of the installation starts opens up a full range of exponential potentials latent in the Armistice Agreement maps. More importantly, these interpretive mappings that activate often omitted sensorial experiences of the territory expand the understanding and the agency of these mapping apparatuses. These new instrumentality help recover these maps’ role as agency of change that catalyze new debates. This nascent step in the context of the long-term project adds to the extant primary sources for further research. Additionally this first iteration installation becomes a steppingstone between the previous animation work and the second iteration, an exhibition and symposium planned for latter half of 2015 in Seoul, Korea and Tübingen, Germany.

using allyou.net