Visual Representations of the Persistent Cold War in the Korean Peninsula

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Visual Representations of the Persistent Cold War in the Korean Peninsula
Stream: Cinema Studies/Film
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Lee Yun-Jong, Wonkwang University, South Korea (organizer, chair, presenter)
JeeNee Jun, Hankyung National University, South Korea (presenter)
Yeong-ae Yamashita, Bunkyo University, Japan (presenter)
Suzie Kim, University of Mary Washington, United States (presenter)
Hyun Gyung Kim, Free University of Berlin, Germany (discussant, presenter)


The Korean Peninsula is a dormant volcanic locus where a hot war, the Korean War was not only waged, but its truce in 1953 also remained in a form of a cold war between the two divided Koreas in the twenty first century even after the perestroika in the 1980s.Our panel pays attention to the visual representations of this persistent cold war in the peninsula in cinema and architecture made in North and South Korea as well as in Japan. JeeNee Jun traces how South Korean films made from 1960 up to 2018 have depicted the ideological conflicts between the prisoners of the Korean War through such films as Entanglements (1960), Fighting Lions(1962), Students of Karl Marx(1968), Who Knows the Pain(1979), The Last Witness(2001), and Swing Kids(2018). By comparing the architectural style of buildings during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and the 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang, Suzie Kim discusses how the communism of North and anti-communism of South are fiercely contrasted, contested, and pitted against each other. Young-ae Yamashita analyzes a 1992 co-production film of Japan and North Korea, Birds, in which a divided family and country is discursively represented under the Korean and Japanese patriarchy systems. Finally, Yun-Jong Lee delves into the stereotypical Zainichi male images of tyranny and brutality, which are always superimposed with the North Korean patrilineal leaders, Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un, coupled with paternity in various forms in films such as Go(2001) and Blood and Bones (2004).