new book on Korean cinema

Jonathan M. Hall jmhall
Fri Mar 26 01:12:32 EST 2004

Dear KineJapanners,

Although not on Japanese cinema, I believe many on this list will be very
interested in this new book on Korean cinema by a colleague here at Irvine.


The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema
Kyung Hyun Kim

Duke University Press
344 pages (March 2004)
66 b and w photos
ISBN 0-8223-3278-7 Cloth - $84.95
ISBN 0-8223-3267-1 Paperback - $23.95

In one of the first English-language studies of Korean cinema to date, Kyung
Hyun Kim shows how the New Korean Cinema of the past quarter century has
used the trope of masculinity to mirror the profound sociopolitical changes
in the country. Since 1980, South Korea has transformed from an insular,
authoritarian culture into a democratic and cosmopolitan society. The
transition has fueled anxiety about male identity, and amid this tension,
empowerment has been imagined as remasculinization. Kim argues that the
brutality and violence ubiquitous in many Korean films is symptomatic of
Korea's on-going quest for modernity and a post-authoritarian identity.

Kim offers in-depth examinations of more than a dozen of the most
representative films produced in Korea since 1980. In the process, he draws
on the theories of Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Zizek, Gilles Deleuze, Rey Chow,
and Kaja Silverman to follow the historical trajectory of screen
representations of Korean men from self-loathing beings who desire to be
controlled to subjects who are not only self-sufficient but also capable of
destroying others. He discusses a range of movies from art-house films
including To the Starry Island (1993) and The Day a Pig Fell into the Well
(1996) to higher-grossing, popular films like Whale Hunting (1984) and Shiri
(1999). He considers the work of several Korean auteurs?Park Kwang-su, Jang
Sun-woo, and Hong Sang-su. Kim argues that Korean cinema must begin to
imagine gender relations that defy the contradictions of sexual repression
in order to move beyond such binary struggles as those between the
traditional and the modern, or the traumatic and the post-traumatic.

?Kyung Hyun Kim's book is a roller coaster ride through modern South Korean
masculinity in the cinema. At once unflinching and sympathetic, Kim's
groundbreaking study traces Korean permutations on the gendered imagery of
castration and rape and the impossible condition of postcolonial
masculinity, caught between incommensurable values and demands.??Chris
Berry, coeditor of Mobile Cultures: New Media in Queer Asia

?This is an important book. There is a long tradition of scholarship
investigating the representation of women in Asian cinema. This has included
some consideration of Korean film, which more often than not finds the
representations of Korean women wanting in one way or another. It took Kyung
Hyun Kim's writing to turn my attention to the rich complexity of the men.
His focus on masculinity?coinciding with the turn to the issue by major
feminist film theorists?simply makes perfect sense. His is a particularly
compelling contribution to the study of Asian cinema, but is simultaneously
in dialogue with all manner of gender studies.??Ab? Mark Nornes, University
of Michigan

Kyung Hyun Kim is Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and
Literatures at the University of California, Irvine.

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