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

Mun Ye-bong, a Partisan Maiden in a “Partisan State”

Korea Journal, (P)0023-3900; (E)2733-9343
2020, v.60 no.3, pp.349-370
https://doi.org/10.25024/kj.2020.60.3.349

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Abstract

This paper studies how the image of Mun Ye-bong as a traditional docile Korean woman is taken advantage of by early North Korean propaganda films following her migration to North Korea in 1948. Focusing on A Partisan Maiden, aka A Partisan Woman (Ppalchisan cheonyeo, 1954), among her early North Korean pictures, this study examines how Mun’s image is appropriated in the propaganda films of both colonized Korea and North Korea immediately after decolonization in 1945. A Partisan Maiden is highly notable in Mun’s filmography, for the film features her not only as the main character, a departure from her regular and minor appearances as daughter, fiancée, wife, and mother of male heroes, but also as a communist guerilla fighter against US troops during the Korean War. The film’s warrior-protagonist role metamorphoses Mun from a “sweetheart of thirty millions”(samcheonman-ui yeonin), a colonial-period epithet of her, to a “people’s actress” (inmin baeu) in North Korea. However, I will argue that this metamorphosis is conflated with Mun’s image of the traditional Korean mother, who faces mythical, figurative death in the nation-birth.

keywords
Mun Ye-bong A Partisan Maiden A Partisan Woman North Korean cinema propaganda film people’s actress partisan state family state nation-building martyrdom

Korea Journal