Dichotomy In Korean Films

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EALC 125 Midterm
According to Kyung Hyun Kim, what is the role of “landscapes” in Korean films of the 1990s and 2000s? Choose one of the Korean films we’ve watched so far (Chihwaseon, Shadows in the Palace, or The Handmaiden) and discuss how the film does or does not fit the pattern described by Kim.

In chapter one of Virtual Hallyu:Korean Cinema of the Global Era, Kyung Hyun Kim tackles the dynamic role of “landscapes” in Korean films, and he defines the dichotomy that exists between certain films of the time period. After the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and the increasingly presence of western and globalization influence, Korea embraced the era of “technological reproducibility” and sheer industrialization (Kim 26). This fact is evident in
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Jiang Wen’s title itself refers to the Japanese as “devils,” since they are the primary reason for the disruption of everyday life. This is evident in the scene where two Japanese soldiers utterly ruin the function and rationality of the village dwellers, especially Ma Dasan who has been burdened with the babysitting of two Japanese prisoners. This satirical scene exhibits how the two soldiers stir chaos and disorder of normality, and the Chinese villagers are forced to comply in such ludicrous circumstances (Wen 0:36:30). The utter fear towards the Japanese military combined with the Empire’s attempt of removing Chinese culture inspire ravenous hate and tension between the two cultures, and the Japanese occupiers in this film are seen as erratic, crude, and…show more content…
The “Japanifying Korea” efforts are depicted as once again detrimental to society; however, it appears that in this film, Korea ultimately saves Japan in a metaphorical stance. The uncle of Lady Hideko adamantly attempts to adopt Japanese styles, culture, and modernization that it brings; this is evident in the Japanese-inspired architecture of the uncle’s property, which incorporates English and Japanese styles in a Korean landscape (Park 0:03:30). The property as a whole is product of the forced infusion of British, Japanese, and Korean styles and culture, which develops the allegorical basis of tension and issues that the film tackles. The uncle is perversing Korea and Korean culture, ultimately making circumstances worse, which is metaphorical for the criticism of Japanese imperialism in Korea. In The Handmaiden, the uncle represents the heinous product of Japanese imperialism, Lady Hideko is the victim, and Sook-hee represents the Korean influence and hero. This film reverses the role of the victimization notion, in which it appears that the Japanese influence and characters, specifically Lady Hideko, are in trouble and need saving from themselves, and Sook-hee is the only catalyst for Lady Hideko’s liberation (Park 0:52:30). In the aspect of conquest and empire, Japan is digging its own grave, and this films
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