When Tongnip kinyŏmgwan 독립기념관 (the Independence Hall of Korea) opened in 1987 to commemorate independence from Japanese colonial rule, the sensational depiction of violence within its technologically innovative diorama display drew substantial public attention. These diorama displays were particularly striking as they palpably demonstrated to visitors the brutal nature of colonial violence through a series of horrendous images of tortured and murdered Koreans. Across the globe, this use of exhibition as a means to “come to terms with the colonial past” has become a recurring feature within the museological production of national and local discourses of remembrance. In the three decades since the establishment of the Independence Hall, South Korean national, local, and private museums have been developing increasingly technically advanced ways to “animate” historically traumatic experiences. This article explores the transformation of the representation of historical trauma within South Korean museums over recent decades. By examining the popularization of VR (virtual reality) and other digital media, this article will argue that the display of violence through this new technology engenders a simplified, unitary sense of historical trauma, while this new virtual viewer experience also entails the possibility to view such an intended viewing position and create multiple actual personal meanings.

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