Ways of South Korean Cinema

Phantom cinema, trans-cinema, and Korean blockbusters

Authored by: Soyoung Kim

Routledge Handbook of East Asian Popular Culture

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415749428
eBook ISBN: 9781315643106
Adobe ISBN: 9781317285014


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In the mid-to-late 1990s, Korean cinema began attracting critical attention on the international film festival circuit. The emergent Korean Wave of film, music, and television dramas further expanded awareness of Korean popular culture. In 2012, pop star Psy’s hit single “Gangnam Style” became the ubiquitous marker for the Korean Wave, solidifying it as a global phenomenon. Today, with more and more films being distributed globally—including Snowpiercer (2013)— Korean cinema challenges and expands our understanding of the dialectics of national and transnational cinema. It is incumbent on us to examine South Korean cinema with an attention to intricate discontinuities, ruptures, and an intermeshing of three constituencies—the layers and shifts that occur in national, regional (inter-Asian), and transnational contexts. In exploring a once poor and an unsettling “national” cinema in trans/inter-Asia and global contexts, there is a certain drive to uncover the possibilities of “cinema otherwise” disclosed by Korean cinema in its affective and perpetual states of emergency.

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