New Korean Cinema

New Korean Cinema

Chi-Yun Shin
Julian Stringer
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r1xtq
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  • Book Info
    New Korean Cinema
    Book Description:

    A wide-ranging analysis of one of the world's most important contemporary film industries, New Korean Cinema adopts a cross-cultural and multi-dimensional perspective and provides a comprehensive overview of the production, circulation and reception of modern South Korean cinema. Together with discussions of Korean society and culture, it considers the political economy of the film industry, strategies of domestic and international distribution and marketing, the consumption of films in diverse reception environments, and the relation of film texts to their cultural, historical and social contexts. Gathering critics from Asia, Europe and North America, New Korean Cinema contributes to the discussion of the complex role played by national and regional cinemas in a global age. It will be of interest to students and critics of Popular Culture and Film Studies as well as East Asian Studies and Korean Studies. Features*The most comprehensive study of one of the world's most exciting new cinemas*Provides new insights into the relations forged between cinema and civil society since the early 1990s.*Considers innovative and timely areas of concern such as globalization, transnationalism and new media*Contains in-depth analyses of key films like Chunhyang, Memento Mori, Peppermint Candy and Take Care of My Cat*Includes a glossary of key terms and bibliography of works on Korean cinema*Illustrated with 24 black-and-white stills.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-7943-0
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. NOTES ON THE CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)
    Julian Stringer

    South Korean cinema is finding its place in the sun. At the dawn of the new millennium, the growing enthusiasm for Korean movies around the world is evidenced by intense activity on multiple fronts. Titles as varied as Chihwaseon (Ch’wihwasŏn, 2002), Oasis (Oasisŭ, 2002) and Old Boy (Oldŭ poyi, 2003) are winning prizes at major international film festivals. Others – including Friend (Ch’in’gu, 1999), Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring (Pom, yŏrŭm, kyŏul . . . kŭrigo pom, 2003), and The Way Home(Chip ŭro . . . , 2001) – are opening hearts and purses in markets across Asia,...

  6. Part I Forging a New Cinema
    • 1. CONTEMPORARY CULTURAL PRODUCTION IN SOUTH KOREA: VANISHING META-NARRATIVES OF NATION
      (pp. 15-31)
      Michael Robinson

      No discussion of Korean film or culture is meaningful without considering its production within, until recently, an extraordinarily unstable political context. While a halting transition to constitutional rule since 1988 has tempered the violent ups and downs of South Korean politics, it is still a society in which cultural production free from the stultifying influence of governmental controls or political passions is a relatively new experience. Recent global recognition and fascination with Korean film gloss over the complex experience that underlies the evolution of this now vital, innovative and regionally influential industry. The critical emphasis on its freshness, innovation and...

    • 2. THE KOREAN FILM INDUSTRY: 1992 TO THE PRESENT
      (pp. 32-50)
      Darcy Paquet

      In 1992, as South Koreans looked towards a new future without their hated military government, the local film industry found itself at a similar crossroads. On the one hand, changes in the political sector were promising the birth of a freer society. For socially conscious film-makers, such as Jang Sun-woo (Chang Sŏn-u), Park Kwang-su (Pak Kwang-su) and Im Kwon-Taek (Im Kwŏn-t’aek), this meant a new-found freedom to explore themes and ideas that had been banned for decades. In the coming years, films such as Park Kwang-su’s To the Starry Island (Kŭ sŏme kago ship’da, 1993), which touched on atrocities committed...

    • 3. GLOBALISATION AND NEW KOREAN CINEMA
      (pp. 51-62)
      Jeeyoung Shin

      South Korean cinema has undergone remarkable growth over the past decade. By substantially improving technical and aesthetic qualities, and by responding to the sensibilities of contemporary Koreans, recent Korean films have distinguished themselves from their predecessors. In so doing, they have rapidly been winning back the hearts of those previously estranged domestic audiences who had once preferred foreign films with better production values, particularly those from Hollywood. With Korean films now capturing almost 50 per cent of domestic market share, and some local hits beating even the most lavish Hollywood blockbusters at the box-office, Korean cinema is currently enjoying unprecedented...

    • 4. CHUNHYANG: MARKETING AN OLD TRADITION IN NEW KOREAN CINEMA
      (pp. 63-78)
      Hyangjin Lee

      The story of a beautiful woman who challenges the social prejudice of her lower-class origin and marries above her social position is a universal source material of romantic tales in many cultures. The Tale of Chunhyang is the Korean archetype of this notion of feminine beauty. Chunhyang appeared in a shamanistic legend in early eighteenth-century Korea. Henceforth, her story appeared in many oral-narrative folk traditions. Through time, her beauty has been variously recreated and refined according to the specific demands and concerns of successive audiences. Furthermore, her story has been remade in almost every medium for popular entertainment in each...

    • 5. ‘CINE-MANIA’ OR CINEPHILIA: FILM FESTIVALS AND THE IDENTITY QUESTION
      (pp. 79-92)
      Soyoung Kim

      Organising the Women’s Film Festival in Seoul during April of 1996, one among many film festivals launched in South Korea in the mid-nineties, I came to wonder about the ways in which certain Korean film festivals mobilise specific identities. In fact, each festival claims a raison d’être which includes not only the coverage of identity-oriented themes, but also the endeavour to construct a discursive space where the relevant issues can emerge and take shape.

      Various factors have contributed to the recent proliferation of all kinds of film festivals in South Korea. First, there is cine-mania, the Korean version of cinephilia....

  7. Part II Generic Transformations
    • 6. PUTTING KOREAN CINEMA IN ITS PLACE: GENRE CLASSIFICATIONS AND THE CONTEXTS OF RECEPTION
      (pp. 95-105)
      Julian Stringer

      Mark Jancovich has demonstrated that struggles over genre classification reveal much about how social identities are constructed through the use of cultural distinctions. As he explains, ‘genre definitions are produced more by the ways in which films are understood by those who produce, mediate and consume them, than they are by the internal properties of the films themselves’ (Jancovich 2001: 33–4). More than this, genres cannot

      simply be defined by the expectations of ‘the audience’, because the audience is not a coherent body with a consistent set of expectations. Different sections of the audience can have violently opposed expectations....

    • 7. HORROR AS CRITIQUE IN TELL ME SOMETHING AND SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE
      (pp. 106-116)
      Kyu Hyun Kim

      What makes a horror film a horror film? That it evokes an overwhelming sense of terror and abjection in the viewer? That it compels us to watch the unwatchable and name the unnameable? If these definitions hold true, then director Chang Yun-hyŏn’s Tell Me Something (T’elmissŏmding, 1999) and Pak Ch’anuk’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Poksu-nŭn na-ŭi kŏt, 2002: hereafter Sympathy) are horror films through and through. Indeed, they perform the objectives of ‘scaring’ and ‘terrorising’ the audience with an almost excessive level of efficiency.

      Even so, the marketing campaigns for both films scrupulously avoided the ‘horror’ label. In South Korea,...

  8. 8. TWO OF A KIND: GENDER AND FRIENDSHIP IN FRIEND AND TAKE CARE OF MY CAT
    (pp. 117-131)
    Chi-Yun Shin

    This chapter considers two buddy films released in 2001 that exemplify contrasting tendencies within contemporary South Korean cinema: Friend(Ch’in’gu) and Take Care of My Cat (Goyangirŭl but’akhae). Both are ‘friendship-themed’ films, the narratives of which are primarily concerned with the fluctuating relationships among a circle of close-knit school-friends as they make the transition to adult life, although Friend is directed by a man (Kwak Kyŏng-t’aek) and is about four male friends and their macho world, while Take Care of My Cat is directed by a woman (Chŏng Jae-ŭn [Jeong Jae-eun]) and is about five female friends. Interestingly, however,only Friend was...

  9. 9. ‘JUST BECAUSE’: COMEDY, MELODRAMA AND YOUTH VIOLENCE IN ATTACK THE GAS STATION
    (pp. 132-143)
    Nancy Abelmann and Jung-ah Choi

    Attack the Gas Station (Juyuso sŭpgyŏksagŏn, 1999, dir. Kim Sang-jin) is a violent comedy: despite the considerable violence that runs the entire course of the film, the film has been widely appreciated as hysterically funny. In the words of one critic, ‘This is the first truly comedy-like South Korean comedy action film that I’ve seen in a long time’.¹ The plot is this: four young men attack a petrol station, holding its ‘president’ (sajang) and workers hostage. Viewers laugh hard, for example, at radical role reversals: at the petrol station ‘president’ who offers to relinquish his presidency the moment he...

  10. 10. ALL AT SEA? NATIONAL HISTORY AND HISTORIOLOGY IN SOUL’S PROTEST AND PHANTOM, THE SUBMARINE
    (pp. 144-156)
    Chris Berry

    The border between North and South Korea is notoriously impermeable. As Chen Kuan-Hsing (2005) argues in a recent article, the Cold War is far from over in East Asia. He begins his disturbing analysis of the numerous ways it continues to structure developments in Taiwan with a moving account of the rare family reunions that filled Korean television screens in August 2000. This chapter examines some ways in which the ongoing Cold War on the Korean peninsula is shaping North and South Korean cultural developments and differences and, in particular, images of nation and national identity. As well as blocking...

  11. Part III Social Change and Civil Society
    • 11. PEPPERMINT CANDY: THE WILL NOT TO FORGET
      (pp. 159-169)
      Aaron Han Joon Magnan-Park

      The nation is a narcissistic entity for it celebrates rather than questions its past. Underlying this narcissistic sense of itself as a national self is the necessity not to remember certain aspects of its own history. This holds especially true when these historical moments would question the nation’s ability to live up to its full national promise to those who constitute the nation as well as to retain its honourable status within the community of other nations. This double imperative – simultaneously to remember and not to remember – is a key factor in theorising the nation. In ‘Qu’est-ce qu’une nation?’ Ernest...

    • 12. THE AWKWARD TRAVELLER IN TURNING GATE
      (pp. 170-179)
      Kyung Hyun Kim

      Kim Sŭng-ok, one of the most celebrated writers of the post-Korean War era, as well as being one of the first generation of writers to be educated in the national language after Korea’s liberation from Japan, is perhaps most famous for his short story: ‘Seoul: Winter, 1964’. Written only a few years after the 19 April student uprising of 1960 that toppled the corrupt Syngman Rhee government and the 18 May coup d’état of 1961 which ushered in a military dictatorship that ruled for three decades, the author’s satiric perspective is mirrored in the two main characters, Kim and An,...

    • 13. MEMENTO MORIAND OTHER GHOSTLY SEXUALITIES
      (pp. 180-192)
      Andrew Grossman and Jooran Lee

      In an English-language anthology dedicated to the ‘new’ South Korean cinema, where issues of Western cultural imperialism and neo-colonialism will inevitably raise their heads, we encounter special difficulties as we address themes of alternative sexuality. Even if basic civil rights ideology derived from much-dreaded ‘Western cultural imperialism’ has recently swollen the ranks of Seoul’s gay-pride ‘Mujigae Parade’,¹ South Korea has yet widely to disseminate queerly contentious media, let alone foster something like a Westernised queer film movement. Therefore, when we consider Korea’s few extant queer films, we are caught between condescendingly excusing the absence of a progressive queer theory in...

    • 14. INTERETHNIC ROMANCE AND POLITICAL RECONCILIATION IN ASAKO IN RUBY SHOES
      (pp. 193-209)
      Hye Seung Chung and David Scott Diffrient

      The above words – drawn from Salman Rushdie’s short story about the famous footwear worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz (US, 1939) – find the author in a reflective mood. No stranger to the kind of emotional upheaval and cultural displacement literally ‘weathered’ by Dorothy in her picaresque rite of passage from sepia-toned Kansas to kaleidoscopic Oz, Rushdie slips from reverie to rhetorical yearning, and evokes – in his description of a ‘scattered’ and ‘damaged’ home – a sentiment that has become increasingly salient in South Korean cinema. It should come as no surprise that this Holy Grail of movie memorabilia,...

  12. GLOSSARY OF KEY TERMS
    (pp. 210-221)
    Chi-Yun Shin
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS ON KOREAN CINEMA
    (pp. 222-227)
    SooJeong Ahn
  14. WEBSITES
    (pp. 228-228)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 229-236)