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Jihoon Kim on the ‘Archival Turn’ of recent Korean Documentary Cinema

Associate professor of cinema and media studies at Chung-ang University, Jihoon Kim will speak at the KCCUK on 24 January, examining recent tendencies in South Korean documentary cinema. Includes film screenings Cyclical Night (17m) + 88/18 (57m).

The talk focuses on a particular aspect of Kim’s project on recent Korean documentary cinema. You can get a broader view of his project in a talk at Westminster School of Art two days before this one.

“Constellation of History: The ‘Archival Turn’ of the Recent Korean Documentary Cinema”

Film screenings and discussion with Jihoon Kim (Department of Film Studies, Chung-ang University)
Thursday 24 January 2019, 19:00 – 21:45 @ KCCUK
This event is FREE to attend but registration is required. Register via EventBrite.
Cyclical Night

Jihoon Kim is associate professor of cinema and media studies at Chung-ang University, Seoul. He is currently working on two book projects, Documentary’s Expanded Fields: New Media, New Platforms, and the Documentary and Post-vérité Turns: Korean Documentary Cinema in the 21st Century.

Visiting London in January 2019, he will give a series of talks on recent tendencies in South Korean documentary filmmaking. Join us at the Korean Cultural Centre UK on the 24th January for a closer look at the ‘archival turn’ of these cinematic works:

“A notable tendency of the recent Korean documentary filmmaking since the early 2010s is the growing use of archival footage […] encompassing old newsreels, propaganda films, television programs, and videos. Given the activist tradition of Korean independent documentary that privileged the interaction between filmmaker and subject as a token of its authenticity and its commitment to social change and politics, deploying archival images extensively in Korean documentary cinema had not been visible as a notable aesthetic tendency to conceive the whole fabric of an individual work, much less as a subgenre, until the late 2000s. Seen in this light, the increasing appropriation and reworking of archival footage in some recent Korean documentary films raise the question of whether or not—or, to what extent—the films diverge from and renew the formal, aesthetic, and political assumptions of the traditional independent documentary. In response to this question, this special screening showcases the ways in which a number of Korean documentary films in the 2010s creatively employ, examine, and reassemble archival footage of the distant or recent histories of Korea.” – Jihoon Kim, 2018

Cyclical Night Dir. Paik Jongkwan, 17 min, 2016, colour and B&W, English subtitles

Digitally processing photos and footage of the rallies from the 1960s to the 2010s in the tumultuous history of Korea, and juxtaposing them with the texts by William Shakespeare (Hamlet), Jacques Derrida (Specters of Marx), and W.G. Sebald (Austeritz), experimental filmmaker Paik Jongkwan zooms in on the images of the people who participated in the political demonstrations encompassing April 19 revolution (1980), Gwangju Democratization Movement (1980) and the protest against the right-wing regime of president Park Keun-hye (2015). Transcending the irony of “to be or not to be,” these people are staring back at the present. As long as time is out of joint, they will continue to return.

88/18 Dir. Lee Taewoong, 57 min, 2018, colour, English subtitles

Although produced by KBS (Korean Broadcasting Service) Sports to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the Seoul Olympics in 1988, 88/18 rigorously diverges from the conventional television or state-sponsored documentary, in which archival images illustrate a nostalgic or glorified account of the distant past, delivered by the ‘voice of God.’ Juxtaposing a vast array of seemingly disparate images—footage from news and reports, documentaries, entertainment shows, and dramas—drawn from the official archive of KBS in concert with rhythmic montage and vivid typographies, the film constructs a constellation of the ways in which the military dictatorship and the people alike considered the mega-event an opportunity to propel Korea’s economic, cultural, and technological modernization. This fascinating compilation documentary also guides viewers towards a self-reflexive and metahistorical insight into how the public broadcasting media functioned as an ideological apparatus to shape the collective utopian desire for a better society of the future.


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