Global Korea

Parameters of Disavowal: Colonial Representation in South Korean Cinema

by Jinsoo An (2018)

- Motion pictures — Korea (South) — History — 20th century.
- Imperialism in motion pictures — 20th century.
- Nationalism in motion pictures — 20th century.

The colonial experience of the early twentieth century shaped Korea’s culture and identity, leaving a troubling past that was subtly reconstructed in South Korean postcolonial cinema. Relating postcolonial discourses to a reading of Manchurian action films, kisaeng and gangster films, and revenge horror films, Parameters of Disavowal shows how filmmakers reworked, recontextualized, and erased ideas and symbols of colonial power. In particular, Jinsoo An examines how South Korean films privileged certain sites, such as the kisaeng house and the Manchurian frontier, generating unique meanings that challenged the domination of the colonial power, and how horror films indirectly explored both the continuing trauma of colonial violence and lingering emotional ties to the colonial order. Espousing the ideology of nationalism while responding to a new Cold War order that positioned Japan and South Korea as political and economic allies, postcolonial cinema formulated distinctive ways of seeing and imagining the colonial past.

1. Introduction
2. Under the Banner of Nationalism: The Changing Imagery of Anticolonial Leadership
3. Film and the Waesaek (“Japanese Color”) Controversies of the 1960s54. The Manchurian Action Film: A New Anticolonial Imaginary in the Cold War Context
4. In the Colonial Zone of Contact: Kisaeng and Gangster Films
5. Horror and Revenge: Return of the Repressed Colonial Violence
6. Coda: After 2000.

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Jinsoo An is Assistant Professor of Korean Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Berkeley.



“A groundbreaking work that articulates a new methodology of theorizing and analyzing postcolonial cinema.”
--HYON JOO YOO, author of Cinema at the Crossroads: Nation and the Subject in East Asian Cinema

“Jinsoo An’s bold commitment to mining the layers and sometimes contradictions of individual films is remarkable. There is no more sustained and erudite examination of colonialism and film in Korea.”
--STEVEN CHUNG, author of Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema


An, Jinsoo [1968-]
Parameters of Disavowal: Colonial Representation in South Korean Cinema.
Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2018, x, 189 p.
(Global Korea, 1.).
ISBN 9780520968103 (epub)
ISBN 9780520968103 (Mobi)
ISBN 9780520968103 (pdf)
ISBN 9780520295308 (pb.)
[Bibl. refs.]