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Conference report: Hallyuwood — Korean Screen Culture Goes Global

Hallyuwood posted

I was unable to attend the conference, and I am grateful to Prof Hu Puzhong for this report:

The symposium has witnessed a relatively blissful atmosphere probably because the Korean wave and its cultural representation in screen production seem to have become an alternative in a world dominated by the hegemony of Hollywood. Academics from the cultural studies sphere discussed and shared their research on the undeniably influential cultural phenomenon. Asian freshness in topics made the symposium not so dry.

Chris Berry, a professor in Goldsmith College, University of London, introduced by expressing the terminology Hallyuwood. Since the pan-Asian hits SHIRI and MY SASSY GIRL came out, Korean screen seems to have been accustomed to bringing about surprise for the film academics. As the most successful national cinema under the monopoly of the Hollywood world, Korean screen is ready to build up with ambition a more powerful screen empire. But scholars are more interested in discerning the cultural elements hidden in the commercial achievement.

Soyoung Kim, a professor and film-maker from Korean National University of Arts, had a very interesting case study on the pan-Asian hit: MY SASSY GIRL. The title is Anagram of Inter-Asian Korean Film: The Case of My Sassy Girl. She showed a clip of DVD movie in Chinese which translates it as MY BARBAROUS GIRLFRIEND. The movie was so trendy in China that a barbarous series were produced by screen makers. Soyoung Kim said the profit of this movie from the world is not so huge, but its value as a “cultural capital” in the world especially in Asia is great. But her speech was challenged by Professor Mark Hobart: Asian where? Who is speaking for Asia?

After a tea break, Julian Stringer from University of Nottingham, gave a speech entitled as A Short Look at Short Film. He questioned the marginal status of Korean short film while Korean feature films are gaining global media exposure. He confirmed with data and industry analysis that the short film has contributed a great deal to the healthy ecology of Korean film development. There is question from participant towards his assumption that the short film as an industry product could also enter the mainstream film market.

In the afternoon, Professor Isolde Standish from SOAS, University of London, chaired the first session. Yoon Ae-Ri, a doctorate candidate from Goldsmiths College, University of London, spoke with a title: Ready to Surf the Korean Wave? The Korean Animation Industry. It was a very good exposition. But the assumption that the Korean animation has begun to achieve international recognition in recent years is also questionable, and the author seemed to be an advocate for the national screen industry.

Youna Kim, a lecture from LSE, University of London, talked about K drama. Popular Drama: A Site of Everyday Talk. She surveyed the women audience response in Korea towards the Korean television drama, and drew some very interesting conclusions. This women studies approach could be revealing to the change of society and the unchanging value or social psychology in it.

The last session was chaired by Professor Mark Hobart, from SOAS, University of London. Hsiu-Chin Hung, also a doctor candidate of Goldsmiths College, University of London, extended her research on the roles of Taiwanese media and audience to create the Hallyu in Taiwan. Industry analysis is used to deepen her exploration.

Koichi Iwabuchi, a professor from Waseda University in Japan, displayed his research entitled as Embracing Korean Wave: Japan and East Asian Media Flows. Taking TV drama series, Winter Sonata as an example, his research interestingly grasped the details of its reception in Japan, and convincingly pointed out its influenza to the society. The most powerful of his speech is the part of analysis on the subtle ways in which the trans-national intersect with the postcolonial and the multicultural. Just like his analysis of “Consuming Korea” in his speech, his objectiveness and intelligent theorization also appear to be sort of consumption in this ideology-stricken reality world.

Hallyuwood: Korean Screen Culture Goes Global was held at the Senate House on 20 May 2005, organised by Goldsmiths College and sponsored by Korean Air. The conference flyer can be downloaded here.

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