Previous "kankoku boom" or booms?

anne mcknight akmck at
Mon Jun 6 22:34:01 EDT 2005

    I'm wondering how people might compare this particular perception, and
actual materials, of the "Kanryu boom" to previous popular and intellectual
enthusiasms about Korea.
    How is this one like or not like previous booms?
    I've been reading old Japanese lefty literary journals from what I
expected to be the dog days of the bubble era--the mid-80s. I was quite
surprised to read people referring--in the way people from different places
do when the term itself is accepted as currency--skeptically to the "new era
of J-K relations," and the "kankoku boom." The upshot is that grass-roots
intellectuals are upset about how metropolitan print culture is drawing on
unreliable ethnography (e.g. colonial era sources, impressionistic jaunts
presented as informed opinion, book reviews of government export periodicals
next to trade books, etc.) to make Japan and Korea more proximate at a time
when state visits and treaty negotiations are happening.
    Two things in the 80s boom, such as I have read about them, seem very
different from current "boom."
    First, the ethnographic materials that seem to be brokering the alliance
are not "media" per se, though they are mediated--they are more folkloric,
like shamanism, theatre, oral culture. In other words, in the late 80s boom,
there was more interest in the "ethnos" and less in the "graphy." More about
the object, and less about the connectivity. I guess this is reasonable,
given that we live in an era that fetishises communications technologies.
    Second, but related, the infatuation with the two-way-ness of proximity
that reception seems to bring does not seem as complete in these 80s
articles--I'm not seeing much about how J-products and intellectuals were
received in Korea, just seeing the exported results. Thus the relation seem
less about the proximity exchange gives you, and more about what can be
learned from whatever the folkloric is supposed to provide.
    I guess in some ways, this is what Iwabuchi's book on globalisation is
about. Concretely, I'm wondering about previous booms, and what happened to
    Any ideas?


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