Transwar Continuities of Colonial Intimacy: Korean-Japanese Relationships in Korean Cinema in the 1960s


Thursday, October 10, 2019, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Common Room (1st floor), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Harvard-Yenching Institute Lunch Talk Series; co-sponsored by the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and the Korea Institute

Su Yun Kim, Assistant Professor, Korean Studies Program, School of Modern Languages and Cultures, the University of Hong Kong; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2019-20

Su Yun Kim is an Assistant Professor in the Korean Studies Program at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures of the University of Hong Kong, specializing in modern Korean literature and culture. She received a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, San Diego, and a B.A. and M.A. from Yonsei University. Prior to joining the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Kim taught at Hamilton College and was a JSPS postdoctoral fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto. Her first monograph, forthcoming from Cornell University Press, Imperial Romance: Fictions of Colonial Intimacy in Korea, 1905­1945, examines discourses and literary representations of Korean-Japanese intermarriage in colonial-era Korea. Other recent publications include her co-edited volume East Asian Transwar Popular Culture: Literature and Film from Taiwan and Korea (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) as well as book chapters and articles in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Korean Studies and Acta Koreana. At Harvard, Dr. Kim will be working on her new book-length project on Korean popular fiction and cinema of the transwar period (1930s–1960s), with a focus on romance and affect

This presentation explores Korean cinema in the 1960s with a focus on films about Korean-Japanese intimacy. Because of the promotion of Korean-Japanese intermarriage by the Japanese colonial government, a number of films produced during the colonial period portrayed intimate Korean-Japanese relationships, including marriages, friendships, and supportive communities. Although representations of Korean-Japanese intimacy disappeared immediately after the liberation, they resurged in the 1960s. Owing to the shift in the Park Chung Hee government’s attitude toward Japan, movies shot in Japan or featuring Japanese culture passed censorship and were released in theatres. Among these Japan-themed movies, colonial intimacy was a popular topic, particularly romance between Korean men and Japanese women. This presentation highlights transwar continuities and differences in the representation of colonial intimacy in Korean cinema that were informed by colonialism, the civil war, and the Cold War.

Chaired by Yoon Sun Yang, Associate Professor of Korean and Comparative Literature, Department of World Languages & Literatures, Boston University