Arts & Culture

Colloquium explores Korean film theory

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, October 4, 2012

 

Four scholars who specialize in Korean film and media participated in a colloquium this Monday titled “Film Theory and National Publics in Divided Korea.” 

Michelle Cho, postdoctoral fellow in international humanities, organized the colloquium as a follow-up to a large international conference last week at the University of Michigan. “I really wanted to frame a conversation for Brown as well,” Cho said.

The “Film Aesthetics, Colonial Resistance, National Ideology” panel included speakers Moonim Baek, associate professor at Yonsei University, and Steven Chung, assistant professor in the East Asian Studies Department at Princeton University. Baek’s discussion pertained to cinematic discourses of the early 1940s, and Chung’s discussion focused on  enlightenment modality and the politics of aesthetics. These earlier parts of the colloquium looked at film as a critical object of commercial, cultural and political importance. 

In her description of Im Hwa, a significant literary critic of the Korean colonial period, Moonim Baek spoke of Hwa’s efforts to position cinema from the former Korean state of Choson in the Greater East Asian sphere. He tried to “preserve its artistic aspects as autonomous from industrialization and propagandization,” she said. 

“The films were spaced to work out some of the challenges or problems that people have toward modernization, and the dismantling of traditional ways – about gender, the relationship between the individual and the state,” Cho said. “Since film is a modern medium, and it is based on technology that is imported to Korea from the Japanese colonial experience, it is already this kind of complicated multi-layered form.”

The second portion of the colloquium included speakers Sunah Kim, a research professor at Dankook University’s Institute for Korean Culture and Technology, and Travis Workman, an assistant professor of Korean literature, culture and media at the University of Minnesota. Their panel was “North Korea’s Cinematic State – Two Perspectives.” This portion contained clips from Korean films such as “A Wild Fire Spread Out All Over the World” and “On the Way to Growth.” This panel focused on the literature of Kim Jong Il as it related to Korean film, as well as how cinema was used to mold society. 

“Because there are few events on campus that center on Korea or the cultural studies of Korea, I am hoping that this event would add to the array of the activities that are held on campus that highlight these different areas,” Cho said. “I really wanted to take the opportunity to bring the public and students and scholars into conversation.”