While tens of thousands of Koreans were subject to the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, early peninsular analysis of the bombings rarely grappled with the existence of these individuals. The general exclusion of colonial subjects from the story of the atomic bombings has long been identified as part of a nationalization of the wartime years, a move that situates the history of the attacks as a specifically Japanese experience. Less understood is how postcolonial intellectuals in Korea encouraged this historiographical trend. Across the peninsula, a common commitment to the idea of science as emancipatory enabled postcolonial Korean writers to conflate political liberation with advancements in the field of atomic science. This fusion of postcolonial developmentalism and atomic scientism, common in both the North and the South between 1945 and 1950, drowned out the critical temporalities introduced by peninsular survivors of the atomic attacks. This article outlines the historiographical obstacles Korean bomb victims posed to emancipatory accounts of the attacks. Postcolonial bomb victims were interpolated into a postwar community that was physiologically unable to leave the fact of the bombings in a colonial past.

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