London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Conference news: Film and History — The Korean Example

Coinciding with the 10th London Korean Film Festival, a two-day conference at SOAS and the KCC. Registration is required via the SOAS website.

Film and History: The Korean Example

Film conference poster5 – 6 November 2015 10:00 – 6:00 PM
Russell Square: College Buildings, Djam Lecture Theatre

Cinema has become a battle ground upon which history is made – a major mass medium of the twentieth century dealing with history. Films with historical incidents include not only historical drama and documentary but also other genres such as melodrama, modern political drama, thrillers, martial arts and war films. The social functions of these films are also diverse: from remembering, writing or inventing national histories to educating and transporting spectators to enable them to deal with experienced or future catastrophes.

The re-enactments of historical events in film straddle reality and fantasy, documentary and fiction, representation and performance, entertainment and education. The filmic forms of collective cultural memory offer wide-ranging research possibilities in the fields of history, film, media and cultural studies.

In recent years, research on film and history, particularly war films, has noticeably increased. Several film theorists have already raised questions such as; can film make a positive contribution to the explanation of history? Can filmic depictions function as historical source material? Can film offer particular knowledge which other media cannot provide? These questions are increasingly relevant as our multimedia society continues to evolve.

The following conference aims to explore the changing modes, impacts and functions of screen images dealing with history with the case study of North and South Korean cinema. As with all national film industries, observing the two Korean film histories, Korean cinema functions as a mass medium of inventing national identity, national history and also establishing their legitimacy – both in forgetting the past and remembering history. Korean films also play a part in forging cultural national memory. Korea as a colonized and divided nation clearly adopted different approaches to the filmic depiction of history compared to colonial powers such as Western or Japanese cinema. The Korean War (1950-53) draws particular attention as this has been a major topic shaping the narrative of nation in North and South Korean films.

Why does film need history, and history film? Why has film become an important medium to interpret history, correct or even invent it? In what way are independent single author films different from recent blockbuster historical dramas? Which historical figures, battles and events became filmic myths? In which way, and with what kind of film- and genre aesthetics (compared to other media), have the characters of the mythic figures, for example General Yi Sun Shin, continued or changed? Why are they popular? With which theoretical tools can we describe the historical re-enactment in each film in the appropriate way?

This interdisciplinary conference will examine the relationship between film and history and the links between historical research and filmic presentations of history with special reference to Korean cinema. The above questions will be explored. Papers on other aspects of Film and History will also be considered.

Draft programme

Thursday, 5 November 2015 Djam Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London
Russell Square, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG
9.15 Registration & Coffee
9.45 Opening Conference / Words of Welcome
  • Hyunseon Lee (Conference Organiser, SOAS, University of London)
  • Grace Koh (SOAS, University of London)
  • Lindiwe Dovey (SOAS, University of London)
  • Kabsoo Kim (KCCUK)
10.00 – 11.30 Panel 1
Cold War and Films: Korean War – Vietnam War
  1. Theodore Hughes (Columbia University, New York)
    History and Intimacy in Early Korean War Films
  2. Hyunseon Lee (SOAS, University of London)
    Korean War Cinema: Nation, Brotherhood, Remembrance
  3. Jong Chol An (University of Tübingen, Germany)
    From Existential Agony to Ideological Division: Korean Film Understanding of the Vietnam War (1964-1975) during the Post-Cold War Era
11.30 – 11.45 Break
11.45 – 13.15 Panel 2
Recent Historical Films
  1. Kyung Jo Min (King’s College London)
    Rewriting the Premodern History of Roaring Currents and the Whirling Self of Contemporary South Korea
  2. Hyung-Sook Lee (Ewha Womans Univ., Seoul/University of Southern California)
    Rewriting History and Hybrid Genres in Contemporary Korean Cinema
  3. Sofia Murell (University of Amsterdam)
    A Blurred Renaissance: Aesthetics of Socio-political Representation in Contemporary South Korean Films
13.15 – 14.30 Lunch
14.30 – 16.00 Panel 3
Cinematic Discourses of Gender, Body and Modern History
  1. Jinhee Choi (King’s College London)
    Girls that Remember; Girls that Disappear: Korean Modern History and Girlhood
  2. Teréz Vincze (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
    Embodied History: Symbolic Use of Bodies in the Cinematic Representation of Korean History
  3. Andrew Sanggyu Lee (Columbia University, New York)
    Screening the Image of Women in Late Colonial-Period Korean Films: Melodramatic Excess, Place of Innocence, and Ambiguous Imperial Subjects
16.00 – 16.30 Tea
16.30 – 18.00 Panel 4
Auteur Cinema and the Art of Memory
  1. Jennifer O’Meara (Maynooth University, Ireland)
    Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy: An Allegorical or Exploitative Take on Korea’s Violent Past?
  2. Hee-seung Irene Lee (The University of Auckland, New Zealand)
    Melancholic Screen for Korea’s Lost Memory: Lee Chang-dong’s Secret Sunshine (2007) and Poetry (2010)
  3. Wikanda Promkhuntong (Aberystwyth University, Wales UK)
    Home Video Distribution History and the Making of a South Korean Cult Auteur
18.00 – 18.15 Break
18.15 – 19.15 Keynote Lecture Hong-Joon Kim (Korea National University of Arts, Seoul):

  • Witnesses Witnessed: Reflections on the Lives and Times of Three Korean Master Filmmakers
Friday, 6 November 2015 Korean Cultural Centre UK
Grand Buildings, 1-3 Strand London WC2N 5BW
9.30 Registration & Coffee
9.55 Words of Welcome
  • Kabsoo Kim (Director, KCCUK)
10.00 – 11.30 Panel 5
Japan in Postcolonial Korea: Cinema, Historicity, and the Politics of Memory
Chair: Jinhee Choi (King’s College
  1. Hwajin Lee (Inha University, S-Korea)
    Postcolonial Love Story in Hyeonhaetan: Melodramatic Version of
    Commemoration on Colonial History in the 1960s
  2. Hyekyong Sim (Soonchunhyang University, S-Korea)
    A Girl-Martyr YU Gwansun as “Jeanne d’Arc of Korea”: Between Making National Biopics and Embracing Hollywood Biopics in Liberation Korea
  3. Woohyung Chon (Konkuk University, Seoul)
    Outside of the History and the Classic: Costume Drama The Wedding Day
  4. Hieyoon Kim (UCLA, USA)
    Making Cinema Historical: Genres of Historical Writing and Their Archives in the 1960s
11.30 – 11.45 Break
11.45 – 13.15 Panel 6
Symbolic Spaces of Modernity
Chair: Teréz Vincze (Eötvös Loránd
University, Budapest)
  1. Park, Mi Sook (The University of Sheffield, UK)
    Rebuilding South Korea’s National Image Through Memory and Everyday Life
  2. Youngmin Choe (University of Southern California)
    Money and Interiority in Korean Cinema
  3. Min Jeong Ko (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
    Re-telling Recent History through Film
13.15 – 14.00 Break
14.00 – 15.30 Panel 7
Processing Memory in the Transcultural
Chair: Colette Balmain (Kingston University)
  1. Joseph Jonghyun Jeon (Pomona College, USA)
    Wire Aesthetics
  2. Ulf C. Lepelmeier (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
    The Need of Reprocessing South Korea’s Radical Changes: How the Korean Cinema Deals with the Pressures of Globalisation, Hypercapitalism and the Anxiety of Losing Cultural Identity
  3. Lee, Seung-Ah (UCLA)
    The Lightness of the Present: Representation of the Colonial Period in Assassination
15.30 – 16.00 Tea
16.00 – 17.30 Panel 8
Historical Reviews of Film Festival
The Crossover between Independent Film-making and International Film Festivals:
The Perspectives of Director Jang Kun-jae (A Midsummer’s Fantasia) and BIFF Programmer Nam Dong-chul (Historical Review of Film Festivals)
17.30 Closing remarks

Organiser: Centre of Korean Studies & Centre for Film Studies SOAS, University of London

Contact email: [email protected]

Contact Tel: +44 (0) 20 7898 4893/2

Sponsor: Korean Cultural Centre UK and The Academy of Korean Studies


(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.