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

From the Era of Melodrama to the Age of the Comedy and the Thriller: The Simultaneous Transformations of Korean Society and Film Genre From the 1990s to the Present

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2019, v.59 no.4, pp.103-135
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2019.59.4.103

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Abstract

Since the 1990s, the genres of Korean film have been re-imagined, and the changed status of melodramas symbolizes this. Melodrama, which was a mainstream genre of Korean film for a long time, has been dissolved into a variety of emerging film genres, losing its dominance. This evolution has been commensurate with the imperative to secure distance from the emotions centered on the pathos of compassion and sympathy, and to question the period dominated by such emotions. The trajectory of Korean films in the 1990s, which began with a greater focus on romantic comedy and continued into comic action films, and the rise of thrillers in the 2000s, demonstrate this transformation. Since the 2000s Comedies and thrillers have acted as a common denominator of genre hybridization, maintaining their status as mainstream genres. This is because these two genres are most suitable for reflecting and reenacting the dynamics of Korean society and the specificity of its modernization due to the coexistence of a delayed modernity and a nascent post-modernity in Korea. In this transformation of film genres, current Korean films embody a labyrinth without an exit where the pursuit of rationality ends in failure or deepens an ironic aesthetic that calls for a contemplative form of humor regarding the coexistence of heterogeneity, contradictions, and absurdity.

keywords
film genre transformation melodrama romantic comedy thriller pathos distance question

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