Old/New Korea(s): Korean‐ness, Alterity, and Dreams of Re‐Unification in South Korean Cinema

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Abstract:

This paper focuses on the notions of “national imaginary” and “imagined communities” bequeathed to us by Benedict Anderson, and their impingements upon South Korean cinema of the past decade, namely Park Chan Uk's Joint Security Area, Kang Je Gyu's Swiri, and Kim Hyeon-Jeong's Comrade. These three films are starting points for understanding how South Korean cinema re-configures the idea of a collective “Korea”—neither South nor North Korea, but simply “Korea” the undivided Fatherland—in relation to questions of violence and its possible dystopic or utopic functions within the Korea peninsula, splintered and marred by opposing ideologies. With plots in which a traumatic history of violence is portrayed as a result of individuals blindly identifying with an ideology of nationalism, these three films urge us to rethink nationalism's claims as a justifiable form of ideology.

Keywords: Ethics; Ideology; Korea; Nationalism; Reunification; Violence

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10282580500133128

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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