Two Golden Ages of Korean Cinema

Kelly Y. Jeong, University of California, Riverside

Steven Chung. Split Screen Korea: Shin Sang-ok and Postwar Cinema. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. 304 pp. $75 (cloth)/$25 (paper).

Young-a Park. Unexpected Alliances: Independent Filmmakers, the State, and the Film Industry in Postauthoritarian South Korea. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014. 224 pp. $40 (cloth/ebook).

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The two books by Steven Chung and Young-a Park that I discuss in this essay signal the growth of Korean studies by simply beginning in medias res. That is, unlike many books that came before them, they offer no lengthy exposition to set things up, to declare and justify the need for the study at hand. These new books also reflect the recent scholarly trend of reaching beyond the established area studies or Korean studies models to present studies that are interdisciplinary and transnational in scope. Park’s Unexpected Alliances is a narrative at once of South Korea’s transition to a (truly) civil society, of its artistic struggle for independence and integrity, of the individual’s negotiations with the state, and of feminist awakenings in unlikely circumstances. Chung’s Split Screen Korea, which I will discuss first, is similarly expansive in scope...