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  • P-ISSN0023-3900
  • E-ISSN2733-9343

Sounds of Celluloid Dreams: Coming of the Talkies to Cinema in Colonial Korea

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2008, v.48 no.1, pp.160-197
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2008.48.1.160
Brian Yecies (Wollongong Univ. Australia)
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Abstract

Conventional reports often hint at how Koreans gained film industry experi- ence and training in Korea and Japan during the 1920s and early 1930s under Cultural Policy reforms. Yet, few studies consider the full range of influences that motivated their contributions to a local vibrant popular entertainment industry and to the global transition to sound. This article attempts to recast the story of cinema in colonial Korea by offering new insights into the produc- tive and destructive characteristics of colonial modernity. The exhibition of talkies from Japan and the West (primarily the United States)as early as in 1925 and more regularly after 1930inspired Korean filmmakers and techni- cians to experiment with sound technology in a way similar to others around the world. Producing a small number of talkies on locally-made equipment enabled them to reach out to millions of cinemagoers and to contribute to a golden-age of cinemarather than simply collaborating with the Japan- ese. In the process, they constructed new spaces for the expression of Korean language and culture within and despite the political and cultural boundaries of colonialism. Colonialism involved entangled degrees of entrepreneurialism, nationalism, and modernityparticularly for those who dreamt of bringing modernity to Korea and sought the type of cosmopolitan lifestyle found in a film production center such as Seoul, Tokyo, Kyoto, Shanghai, Los Angeles, as well as Harbin and Darien in Manchuria.

keywords
Korean cinema colonial Korea film policy Hollywood motionpictures talkies colonial modernity

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