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Disrupting Heritage Cinema: The Historical Films of South Korea

Mitchell, Louisa Jo (2018) Disrupting Heritage Cinema: The Historical Films of South Korea. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis explores the revival of historical filmmaking in South Korean cinema. While the success of the domestic film industry over the past twenty years has been considered a second renaissance for Korean cinema, there has been little detailed engagement with the full diversity of films that have been made. Particularly, this thesis looks at the way this renaissance has seen a rediscovery of the Korean period drama. Known as sageuk in Korean, the genre has seen an unprecedented boom since the beginning of the twenty-first century. In my analysis, I draw out parallels between recent sageuk productions and the so-called ‘heritage film’. My project aims to disrupt established ideas of heritage cinema, for instance cultural anxieties and the construction of a national identity, by examining recent shifts and hybridisation of the historical genre in South Korean film. I focus on the postmodern representation of a premodern past and explore issues of authenticity and nostalgia in the depiction of the Joseon period (1392-1897). The introduction provides the contextual basis for my research. Here I explore the history of the genre in conjunction within the context of Korean cinema. In the chapters that follow, I explore the recent development of the sageuk genre through close analysis of four successful and influential period films released between 2003 and 2014: Untold Scandal, Jeon Woo Chi, Masquerade, and The Admiral: Roaring Currents. My analysis looks at the changes to generic conventions and the impact of the Korean blockbuster phenomenon on the nation’s historical representation. In so doing, I show how the contemporary form has been shaped by Korea’s experience of the twentieth century, the changing use of traditional culture in neoliberal society, and the influence of global cinematic developments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Languages Cultures and Societies (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.766426
Depositing User: Ms Louisa Mitchell
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2019 12:09
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:49
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22590

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