Sung Ji Park

PhD student

Thesis: Art, War and Propaganda: Visual Rhetoric of the Empire of Japan during the Asia-Pacific War, 1931-1945

Supervised by Professor Julian Stallabrass

Conflict is an integral part of humanity. This is complex and multi-layered phenomena, varying in interest, intensity and power. It has its own dynamic and happens in specific political, economic, social and cultural settings. It occurs when different parties are in dispute over material or immaterial resources, and when disputants see the incompatibility of their interests and goals. Indeed, art has rarely been isolated from full-scale armed conflicts and took a crucial role in changing the course of conflict. For instance, the photographs in the Vietnam War brought national and international peace movements, showing the capability of art for resistance against violence. Also, art can operate to the other extreme, that is, the uses of art as propaganda deploy; such as Jacques Louis David’s paintings of Napoleon, the Join, or Die cartoon of Benjamin Franklin, and Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, a Nazi propaganda film. Thus, art can take part in both the waging of all-out war and peacebuilding.

My central concern is how and to what extent art and art practice is engaged differently in those two edges. my thesis presupposes specific (geo-) political, socio-cultural and artistic norms or settings which shape the pattern of violent conflict, from the explicit use of art as propaganda to the establishment of specific historical values of warring factions. With the case study of Japanese war propaganda during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945), my thesis explore the politics of art as propaganda during this wartime. The thesis not only examines the propaganda messages, the purposes of the propaganda campaigns and the visual ideation of the war ideology but also questions the relations among propaganda, art and art writing: How does artistic style or tradition affect the effectiveness of propaganda? Can art is being used as a pretext to resort to war? Can art is being critical of military aggression? In what why can artistic productions be ineffectual in political campaigns? What we ought to consider when the representation of ethnicity is used in the name of racial solidarity? What determines for specific artistic style becoming a popular choice of propaganda media? What does it mean to understand art as propaganda object? How to situate art as propaganda in art writing? Are there artistic traditions which aestheticise war or its violence?


  • PhD Student, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2018 – present)
  • MA History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art (2017 – 2018)
    • Thesis: The Portrayal of Male Prostitution and Sex Work as Affective Labour in
      Documentary Film: A Case Study of Wiktor Grodecki’s Not Angels But Angels
      and Body Without Soul and Rodrigue Jean’s Men for Sale
  • MA Art Theory, Hongik University (2014-2017)
    • Thesis: How Art is Made, the Nuances of Artistic Labour : a Case Study of Marcel Duchamp and Robert Morris
  • BA Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art and Design (University of the Arts London) (2009 – 2012)

Research Interests

  • Art and politics
  • Warfare
  • Conflict studies
  • Mass media
  • Soft power
  • Art and labour
  • Critique of creativity


  • Hongik Scholarship, Hongik University (2015)


  • Teaching Assistance, British and American art in the cultural field, 1950-2016, Hongik University (2016)
  • Teaching Assistance, Urban Space and Cultural Studies, Hongik University (2015)
  • Teaching Assistance, Modernism and its Visual Mechanisms: Art, Technology and Culture in a Global Context, 1850-1950, Hongik University (2015)

Conference Papers

  • “FRONT no. 8-9 (1943), Japan’s War Pictorial Propaganda: Selling Japan as Meishu to Asian colonies during the Pacific War”. “Faces of War” International War Studies Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 21 March 2020.
  • “The Barbizon-esque Rural Imagery in 1930s Manchuria: Fuchikami Hakuyō’s Art Photography and the Cult of Millet in Modern Japan” “Dialogues: Modern and Contemporary Approaches to Politics and Place”. The Courtauld annual Modern and Contemporary Second Year PhD Colloquium. 04-05 May 2020.
  • “Mutō Tomio’s Media Control of Photography in Wartime Japan: The Guidance of the Arts, Registration Photography and the Manipulation of Photographic Visibility” “Identity and Power” International Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 1-2 August 2020.
  • “Colonial Discourse in 1930s Manchurian Pictorial Photography: The Barbizon-esque Rural Landscape as the Erasure of Colonial Violence” “Violence and Society” International Conference. London Centre for Interdisciplinary Research. 22 August 2020.