DMZ Colony

By Don Mee Choi


Hello, poetry lovers! 📚✨ Today, we’re diving into the mesmerizing world of DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi. This collection, not just a mere poem but a profound journey through verse, photography, prose, and documents, tackles the haunting residues of war and division. Don Mee Choi, born in South Korea and now residing in the United States, uses her dual perspective to explore themes deeply rooted in the history and trauma of Korea, particularly the Korean War and its aftermath.

The book’s genre bends the traditional format, mixing poetry with visual art and critical essays, creating a multi-dimensional space for reflection and interpretation. Don Mee Choi’s work challenges readers to confront the complex interplay of history, memory, and identity. Let’s unravel the layers of this compelling piece together!

Meaning of DMZ Colony

Opening Section The opening part of DMZ Colony sets the tone with a stark, powerful confrontation of history and personal memory. Here, Choi juxtaposes images of the Korean War’s devastation with snippets of narratives from Korean War survivors. These verses lay a foundation of contrast and set up a dialogue between past and present.

Mid Section As we move to the middle sections, the poem delves deeper into the realm of disjointed memories and fragmented identities. Choi skillfully uses disjointed syntax and abrupt shifts in narrative perspective to mirror the disorienting effects of historical trauma. This part often interweaves voices from different eras, creating a sense of timelessness and urgency.

Concluding Section In the concluding sections, DMZ Colony transitions into a more reflective and visionary mode. Choi proposes possibilities for healing and reconciliation through the act of remembering and rewriting. The language here is often more lyrical and hopeful, suggesting a future where the fragmented past is reassembled into a new narrative of unity.

In-depth Analysis

Theme of Memory and History:

  • Don Mee Choi uses the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) as a symbol for the division not only of a country but also of identities and histories. Each stanza weaves together personal and collective memories, often blurring the lines between them to emphasize the shared nature of trauma.

Symbol of Maps and Borders:

  • Maps and borders recur throughout the poem, symbolizing not just geopolitical divides but also psychological and cultural ones. Choi challenges these boundaries by overlaying different historical periods and personal stories, suggesting a more fluid understanding of space and identity.

Figurative Language:

  • Metaphors and similes are used extensively to link the personal with the political, such as comparing the scarred landscapes of war-torn Korea with the emotional scars of its survivors.

Syntax and Diction:

  • Choi often employs fragmented syntax and abrupt shifts in diction, reflecting the disjunctive experience of those living in the aftermath of the Korean War. This stylistic choice creates a poignant dissonance that is both jarring and deeply effective.

Poetic Devices used in DMZ Colony

MetaphorLand as a scarred body
SimileQuiet as a battlefield after rain
AlliterationBitter bread, broken borders
AssonanceThe soft sound of sorrow sinking
PersonificationThe hills whisper the war’s woes
HyperboleEndless echoes of explosions
IronyThe peace park, silent and empty
SymbolismMaps as both divisions and connections
ImageryGrey skies over green fields
OxymoronDeafening silence

DMZ Colony – FAQs

Q: What is the significance of the title DMZ Colony? A: The title refers to the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), symbolizing division and conflict but also a space of potential and unclaimed identity. Choi extends this metaphor to explore themes of colonization and cultural identity.

Q: How does Don Mee Choi incorporate her personal experiences into the poem? A: Choi integrates her experiences growing up in post-war Korea and her life in the U.S. to reflect on the broader themes of displacement and identity formation.

Q: What literary style is DMZ Colony written in? A: The work blends poetry, prose, and visual art, breaking traditional genre boundaries to create a multi-layered narrative.

DMZ Colony Study Guide

Exercise: List all the poetic devices used in the following verse from DMZ Colony: “The silent hills, shadowed under clouds, speak in whispers of past winds.”


  • Imagery: Description of hills and clouds.
  • Personification: Hills speaking in whispers.
  • Alliteration: “Past winds” produces a repetitive sound.
  • Symbolism: Hills and clouds can symbolize obstacles and obscurity in memory.