Korean cinema entered a new phase from the 1990s, which seemed a complete breakup from the past. During the 1990s Korean cinema underwent remarkable explosive growth in quantity and quality. In this paper, the main currents of the contemporary Korean cinema industry are divided into three, that are producer-centered "packaged cinema" , its variant a variety of Korean-style blockbusters seeking the advantages of economies of scale blockbusters, and director-centered New Korean Cinema. If Korean films in the 1990s were an effort to distinguish themselves and survive individually within the local region of Korean, then the Korean films since the year 2000 have been an effort to pursur both individual survivial and new possibilities for Asian movies by further expanding their scope. It is now time to examine coldly whether the new attempts being made by Korean movies can really find alternative possibilities or whether they are only blindly following the quasi-universal Hollywwod hegemony.
Contemporary Korean cinema is both innovative and industrially successful. Its historic achievement dates back to the cinema movement from the 1980s to the mid-1990s and its effect, the so-called Korean New Wave. The Korean New Wave films tried to overcome the limitations of modern Korean movies with auteurism and realism, showing a departure in its criticism of mainstream movies and oppressive social conditions.Since the mid-1990s, however, Korean films have diverged again from the Korean New Wave. While critical attitudes and a search for realism significantly waned, an ironic tendency and interests in genre and mass culture grew. Post-Korean New Wave films now focus on image more than on theme, which tells us that the newness of todays Korean cinema only functions as a stylistic strategy used to distinguish themselves from other films. Closely related to changes in Korean politics, economy, and culture are those of the meaning, role, and function of newness in Korean films, through which we can understand the circumstances and trends of Korean films today.
Peppermint Candy (박하사탕, 2000) is a privileged text for understanding the historical burdens of Korean society. The film touches upon the key traumas of the Gwangju Uprising. I argue that the trauma played out in Peppermint Candy is an endemically male trauma, the gendered trauma of Korean society rather than a “general” trauma. This gendered trauma, which is displayed under the pretense of “progressive” political historiography, renders women’s traumas invisible and unrepresentable in the public discourse. The male-gendered trauma also blurs the classification of perpetrators and victims by making use of homosocial bonding as a platform for spectatorial identification. Considering the complex problematic of historical representation on film, I will deal with both the critical positioning of historical materials as well as the modes of cinematic representation deployed.
In all three films of Park Chan-wook's "revenge" trilogy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Old Boy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005), one can trace the emergence of "postmodern" attitude that takes up not only the point of view that the grand ideologies (humanism, democracy, socialism, etc.) are faltering, if not entirely dissipated, but also a belief that the image is merely just that: an image. Image here is that which is not an impression of reality, but a perception of matter that approximates the verisimilitudes of both space and time that may not have anything to do with reality. This renders a sense of the "unknowable." This article probes a number of elements that typify Park's films: the trope of revenge and its relationship with Nietzschean ressentiment, the stylized use of violence, the failing gap between the plane of representation and the plane of signification, and the various spatial, historical, and ontological markers of the "unknowable." All of these issues will also investigate, challenge, and contextualize the recent Western critics' response to his work that has problematized Park's films for having failing to produce social criticism.
The self-image of Koreans was formed through complex relationships with modernity, colonialism, and nationalism. It was shaped through a modernization process in which traditional identity was changed or redefined. This was first led by a change in the notion of civilization due to the transformation of international society and thereafter was affected by the trauma of Japanese colonization. Through the process of transition from a traditional Confucian notion of civilization to a Western notion of acceptance and resistance, Koreans shaped their civilization as well as their notions of the racial, cultural, and individual modern self. Western Orientalism, in particular, accompanied the introduction of the Western notion of civilization, which served as the background for forming the self-identity of Koreans. Furthermore, the fact that the Japanese version of Orientalism developed in the midst of the relationship between the two countries also played a critical role in shaping the self-identity of Koreans. Consequently, Korea still maintains an inferiority complex toward Western culture, ambivalent feelings toward Japanese culture, and biased positive or negativeviews of their own cultural traditions. The roots of this condition possibly developed from an extreme focus on the Western notion of civilization and the perpetuation of such a paradigm. This study will demonstrate how modernization and colonization can shape and impact the formation or distortion of self-consciousness of non-Western peoples.
The article analyzes William Arthur Noble’s novel, Ewa: A Tale of Korea (1906) as an example of missionary discourse that reflects the complex dynamics of a contact zone where Koreans and American missionaries encountered each other with drastically different cultural assumptions and developed ongoing relations in response to that contact under specific historical circumstances. It pays particular attention to Noble’s narrative as a window to understanding his western subjectivity, which is shaped and reshaped by contact. Examining the authorial motives in employing a first-person narrative, the article shows how Noble engages in a complex discourse on civilization, race, gender, and nationhood that goes beyond the typical binary oppositional spectrum that locates the West as superior and the Other as inferior. It concludes that although Noble ultimately privileges Christianity as the foundation of a new Korea, his intimate knowledge of Korea offers him a platform from which he not only represents Koreans as he understands them but also recasts his own Western culture and society through the mirror of Korean tradition.
The central purpose of this research is to probe the connection between Choe Seung-hui and the modern. The life of Choe Seung-hui, more than any other, must be understood under the larger rubric of the modern period and structure. Choe Seung-hui, who was dubbed the dancer of the peninsula, Korean dancer, and the world dancer, was, without question, the most famous figure of that period. How can Choe Seung-huis success be explained? Her success is intimately linked with to modern conditions, and her life offers an important clue in shedding light on how she and her contemporaries experienced modernity both as a system and as an ideology. Choe Seung-hui is both a single individual and a complex icon produced by numerous audiences, critics, and the spirit of that period.Based on existing research, this paper attempts to connect the visual, the nucleus of the modern experience, with Choe Seung-huis dance and her life. In other words, Choe Seung-hui lived the most spectacular life of that period, and through her we can arrive at an understanding of what it meant to be a spectacle, and examine the rise and power of the spectacle within the space of the modern.
Both the British and Japan emphasized the superiority of Western medicine to indigenous in their colonies, India and Korea respectively, partly relying on the practice of indigenous medicine due to the lack of qualified doctors. The British and Japan, however, differed in acting medical law on indigenous practitioners and affected the sociopolitical space where the revivalist movements for indigenous medicine resulted from indigenous medical practitioners in India and the Japanese colonial government in Korea. It is worth noting that the two imperial powers politicized Western and indigenous medicine in similar fashion to legitimize their rules over the colonies.