Vertaisarvioitu alkuperäisartikkeli tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (A1)

Contested Victimhood of a “Virgin Terrorist”

Julkaisun tekijätSungju Park-Kang

KustantajaThe University of Chicago Press Press










This article explores the role of narrative in the construction of victimhood. It suggests that victimhood is a social construct, rather than a fixed entity. The paper also investigates the gendered nature of victimhood. This endeavor includes a study of a terrorist bombing where the line between victims and terrorists has been highly politicized. Declassified documents, media reports, academic materials, and a film are analyzed. Against this backdrop, the paper first discusses the notion and the construction process of victimhood. Then it offers background information on the case of Hyunhee Kim, or Korean Air (KAL) flight 858. This is followed by an examination of the contestedness of Kim’s claims to victimhood surrounding the case. The article as a whole contributes to studies on narrative, victimhood, gender, and security.

To begin, I briefly investigate the notion of victimhood. Like many other concepts and categorizations, the definition here is not clear-cut or absolutely fixed. With this in mind, when an act of harm is perpetrated against a person or a group, victimhood can be taken “as a form of collective identity based on that harm.”1 The focus in this work is on how victimhood is constructed and processed by, for example, Kim herself, the South Korean government, and the media. More specifically, I aim to demonstrate that narrative plays an important role in that process. A narrative here refers to, in the broadest possible sense, a spoken, written, filmed, or photographed account of events. The point is that “narrative is a meaning structure that organizes events and human actions into a whole, thereby attributing significance to individual actions and events.”2 In the case of KAL 858, where there is a lack of physical evidence, narrative actively works as a form of meaning- and truth-making.

In this respect, the article examines how Hyunhee Kim situates herself as a victim. My goal is not to support or refute Kim’s victimhood, but to explore the complex and multifaceted nature of victimhood.

Last updated on 2023-09-02 at 15:40