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Social ecology and ecological knowledge in South Korean ecocinema

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Through an engagement with interactions between human cognition and social and natural ecologies, recent South Korean films critique perceived deficiencies in Korean cultural forms and practices. The two eco-themed films that are the main focus of this article, Daeho (The Tiger) and Syupeomaenieotteon Sanai (A Man Who Was Superman), thematize an implicit acquiescence to the environmental status quo within South Korea’s inward-looking culture. A Man Who Was Superman, in particular, articulates nested social structures with the effect that social ecology affords a meta-level for a range of social and ecological issues. The foregrounding of these issues is achieved by disrupting the narrative expectations associated with a particular genre ‐ that is, by modal shifts into magical realism and CGI, by evocations of transcendence and by uses of point-of-view shots that present many scenes from a non-human perspective. In each film, viewer interaction with embodied simulation of affect and emotion produces a response which is simultaneously cognitive, empathic and potentially ethical.
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Keywords: colonization; ecocinema; genre-blending; magical realism; monster theory; script theory; social justice; traditional ecological knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000121585405Macquarie University

Publication date: October 1, 2019

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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