London Korean Links

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Korean film: Years of radical change – free day-long seminar at SOAS

Hot on the heels of their day-and-a-half seminar on Korean music and dance, SOAS presents a free one-day seminar on Korean film. Well-known speakers, interesting subject matter. And time allocation is reasonably generous – each speaker gets an hour, so hopefully things won’t feel rushed as often happens at these events.

Make sure you book your day off work and register in advance via the SOAS website.

Korean film: Years of radical change

Korean Cinema: Years of radical changeDate: 10 May 2012
Time: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Venue: SOAS, Vernon Square campus [Map]
Room: V211

Both North and South Korea have long established cinematic traditions and the past twenty five years in particular have seen some radical shifts in South Korean film. From the 1960’s Golden Age through the ‘New Wave’ of Korean directors and the big budget ‘Planet Hallyuwood’ blockbusters of the early noughties to recent works of ethnic Koreans overseas, Korean cinema has always been vibrant and has always provided its fair share of controversy. In this one day workshop organised by SOAS Centre for Korean Studies, senior scholars will critically examine some of the most important issues in Korean Cinema.


10:00 Tea/coffee, Opening remarks by Dr Andrew Jackson (SOAS)
10:15 Session 1, Chaired by Dr Isolde Standish (SOAS)

Dr Colette Balmain (Coventry University), Female Voices in South Korean Horror Cinema

In this presentation, I will explore female voices in contemporary South Korean horror cinema, both inside and outside the frame. Specifically I will look at films by 3 female directors, Princess Aurora (Bang Eun-Ji, 2005), Shadows in the Palace (Kim Mee-jeung: 2007), and Yoga Institute (Jae-yeon Yun’s follow up to Wishing Stairs, the third in the Whispering Corridors Series of films). I am interested in exploring how these three directors utilise the conventions of the horror genre to articulate the female experience through the female voice, rather than as an adjunct to male fears and desires around female empowerment and shifting gender roles.

Dr Julian Stringer (University of Nottingham), Exploring Contemporary Korean Cinema Soundscapes

South Korea’s commercial film industry has transformed itself over recent years into an internationally competitive market leader. This transformation has entailed the upgrading of technologies of both production and consumption, an increased professionalisation of film-making practices, the penetration of new markets for Korean film and a concomitant building of confidence and ambition among creative personnel. This paper considers just one component of contemporary South Korean cinema’s changing professional environments and aesthetic characteristics – namely, sound. It does this by providing an in-depth analysis, based on original interviews, of the work of one of South Korea’s leading post-production studios.

12:15 Break
12:45 Session 2

Dr Jinhee Choi (King’s College, University of London), Kim Seung-ho, the National Father: The South Korean Home Drama and Postwar Modernity

In this presentation, I examine Korean actor Kim Seung-ho, whose star persona epitomizes the father figure to be found in the postwar South Korean home drama. Kim earned the nickname of “National Father” after his award winning performance in Mr. Park at the 8th Asia Film Festival in 1961. Characters performed by Kim range across social classes – from the head of a company (The Sunflower Family) to a salary man (Romance Papa, A Petty Middle Manager), to an educator (Romance Gray, The Apron), to a managerial worker (Mr. Park, A Coachman) – but it was his award-winning performances in Romance Papa and Mr. Park at the Asia Film Festival that helped to establish him as a key representative of the father of a lower-middle class family. The home drama cycle emerged both at the height of the golden age of South Korean cinema and during the political transitions from South Korea’s First (1948-1960) through its Third (1962-1972) Republic. I will discuss Kim’s performance as a father by focusing on Shin Sang-ok’s Romance Papa (1960) and Lee Bong-rae’s A Petty Middle Manager (1961), which ignited and solidified the home drama boom in the early 1960s. Further explored is how the South Korean postwar home drama portrays the middle class family as an idealized site, one where democracy and egalitarianism can rule.

13:45 Lunch
14:45 Session 3

Dr Chi-yun Shin (Sheffield Hallam University), Cosmopolitanism in the Films of E J-Yong

E J-Yong’s films are diverse, ranging from melodrama (An Affair, 1998) to musical comedy (Dasepo Naughty Girls, 2006); from historical drama (Untold Scandal, 2003) to mocumentary-style drama (Actresses, 2009), as well as a Korean-Japanese co-produced art-house film (Asako in Ruby Shoes, 2001), but what they share in common are cosmopolitanism and criticism of parochial nationalism. This paper explores palimpsestic characteristics that inscribe cosmopolitanism in E’s films, addressing the intertextual dynamics with the source material, narrative structures, and the characters who travel abroad or aspire to go abroad.

Dr Mark Morris (Cambridge University), Yellow Seas, Frozen Rivers: the Joseonjok and Jang Ryul/Zhang Lu

While South Korean cinema has a long tradition of representing North Koreans in a variety of (usually predictable) guises, the ethnic community of the Chinese-resident ‘joseonjok’ have only more recently found an uneasy place on southern screens. The big-budget crime thriller Hwanghae/’Yellow Sea’ (2010) presents an outsider’s view of the poor cousins north of North Korea. In contrast is the work of Jang Ryul/Zhang Lu. By far the best known of joseonjok film-makers, Jang/Zhang has been exploring his society through a series of films shaped by social history but also by indie genre conventions. The most recent, Dumangang/’Duman River’ (2010), is his best. I will talk about the wider questions involved in representing northerners on southern screens, while introducing Jang/Zhang’s main films.

16:45 Closing Comments, Dr Yeon Jae-hoon (SOAS)
17:00 Reception

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