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Title: Male hysteria : traumatic masculinity in contemporary Korean cinema
Author: Lee, Aramchan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5922 5597
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2016
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Employing textual and contextual analysis, this thesis analyses hysterical masculinity in popular Korean cinema. I argue that in a significant number of contemporary Korean films men are depicted as experiencing trauma due to the impact of the Korean economic crisis after 1997. My focus will be mainly on films made in the first five years after the onset of the financial crisis. In Chapter One, I discuss the ways in which Korean cinema prior to this period explored masculinity, providing contrast and comparison to subsequent forms of representations. In particular, I explore the trajectory of masculine identities in Korean cinema since the 1960s. I also address the textual and theoretical methodologies which inform my case studies. Chapter Two asks to what extent Confucianism and militarism had an influence on Korean masculinity. I suggest that the 1997 Korean financial crisis revealed not only economic complexities but also structural problems in Korean society. Furthermore, the chapter briefly maps a history of Korean cinema from 1980s to 1990s, in particular the emergence of the Korean New Wave and New Korean Cinema. In sum, I examine the historical contexts of Korean masculinity and cinema focusing firstly on patterns of male dominance, secondly on pre and post-1997 Korean cinema, and thirdly on the formal conventions of melodrama and the gangster genre as essential aspects in comprehending the background of how masculinity figures in contemporary Korean cinema. In Chapter Three, I introduce the notion of ‘hysterical excess’ in the expression of masculinity, looking in particular at the case-study of Jung Jiwoo’s Happy End (1999). Through textual analysis, I detail how a hysterical excess of masculinity eventually results in femicide and female victimisation. Chapter Four employs the concept of ‘distorted pleasure’ to examine Kim Kiduk’s films, in particular The Isle (2000) and Bad Guy (2001). The chapter notes their tendency to represent a vision of ‘twisted pleasure’, which includes rape fantasies, sadism and masochism. Once again, a weakness of masculinity expresses itself through violence toward women. In Chapter Five, I discuss two films by Lee Changdong; Peppermint Candy (2000) and Oasis (2002), exploring themes of nostalgia, fantasy, and Christianity, as well as the meaning of particular aesthetic devices such as flashback and social realism.
Supervisor: Williams, Michael ; Bergfelder, Tim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available