Visual Representations of the Persistent Cold War in the Korean Peninsula

Title: 1362 | Visual Representations of the Persistent Cold War in the Korean Peninsula
Area: Northeast Asia
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).

Panel Abstracts:
Between Japan, North and South Koreas: Zainichi Korean Fathers and Sons in the Films of 2000s
This paper delves on the insecure, yet open and flexible identities of Zainich Koreans represented in Japanese films of the 2000s. It particularly focuses on the masculinity overemphasized in Zainichi-Korean father-son relationships depicted in Go (2001, dir. Yukisada Isao) and Blood and Bones (2004, dir. Sai Yoichi). While the two films conflate Confucian paternity (authority) with violent masculinity, North Korea is often symbolized as “the” brutal and violent “father” synecdochizing overmasculinized fathers in them and other Japanese films on Zainichi Koreans such as Break Through! We Shall Overcome Someday (2004, dir. Izutsu Kazuyuki) and Our Homeland (2012, Yang Yonghi). In these films, fathers and sons eagerly long for a secure membership into a nationality (either North or South Korea) under the Japanese racism toward the non-Japanese, but at the same time prefers not to belong to a certain nationality or society. But then, why not the relationships of mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, but those of fathers and sons in the films? Bearing this question in mind, I would explore how the stereotypical Zainich 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, is coupled with paternity in various forms. By doing so, I would contemplate how nationality and masculinity are imbricated in the representation of Zainichi Koreans in the Japanese films.

The Cold War Sensitivity and the Prisoner of War Camps Frontier Zone: Methods in Korean Films of Embodying Prisoner of War Camp(1960∼2018)
The purpose of this paper is to discuss about movies that addressed 'prisoner of warcamp' up to this day from following the Korean War. A prisoner of war camp during the war was broken out mass bloodshed frequently due to a collision between communist prisoners and anticommunist war prisoners. This ideological conflict caused a lot of confusion politically, socially and internationally. Taking this into consideration, this study aims to examine the transition process in South Korea's movies of thinking about war & anticommunism, and cold-war structure until the post-cold war era after passing the cold war. Specifically, there is an analysis on the movies such as Fighting Lions(1962), Who Knows the Pain(1979), which mixed anticommunism and action during the period of the Park Junghee regime. Sequentially, there will be a discussion even about The Last Witness(2001) that was produced amidst an atmosphere of peace between South and North Korea, and Swing Kids(2018) that is the latest film that kept a North Korean prisoner in the forefront, following a military propaganda film. This leads to a multiple analysis on a method of describing an ideological conflict between South and North Korea in movies of addressing the contact zone dubbed a concentration camp from the post-war period up to following the 2000s, and on the aspect of recognizing the cold war surrounding the empire & the Korean Peninsula, and the third power.

Unification Discourse and Gender in the North Korean Film "Birds"
The purpose of this presentation is to examine gender expressed in the North Korean film “Bird” (1992). The film was produced with funding by CINEMABEAM in Japan. This work is based on a North Korean novel based on the true story of an ornithologist father and son, a family of North and South Koreans.Director Lim Chang-bum portrays the pain of separated families due to the division, with the motif of the northern starling freely crossing the military demarcation line and the human society blocked by the demarcation line. The film was selected as the opening film of the 1st PyeongChang International Peace Film Festival(2019) because it was evaluated for its humanistic content and lack of political color.However, from a gender point of view, can this work be said to be a work that fits the starting point for overcoming division and unification? All the women appearing here are depicted as if they exist to help the man’s life and studies. In this description, the gender characteristic that supports North Korea's patriarchal state system melts. It is familiar in South Korea and Japan as well.In this presentation, I will analyze, through this film, the ways of representation of women two Koreas and Japan and their implications. In addition, I would like to examine what was expected and appreciated about the movie in Japan through an interview with a cinema beam official at that time.

Cold War Architecture of the Games: Sporting Facilities in Pyongyang and Seoul in the 1980s
The Cold War affected not only modern geopolitics but also waged over different issues than those that had pitted North and South Korea against each other: the architecture of the games in Pyongyang and Seoul during the 1980s. With the hosting of the 1988 Summer Olympic Games, the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea) wanted to culminate democracy and bring rapid economic growth to the country. The Jamsil area (south-east part of Seoul) was filled with global architectural landmarks constructed in symbolic and brutalist style, such as the main Seoul Olympic Stadium (started 1977 and opened in 1984) designed by Korean architect Kim SwooGeun (1931-86). On the other hand, the DPRK chose to respond to the Seoul Olympic after their offer to co-host the show was rejected and hosted instead the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) in 1989. The Constructivist and futuristic style buildings built for the WFYS, including the May Day Stadium (opened on May 1, 1989), alignedwith the theory addressed in the 170-page treatise On Architectureby North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il (in office 1991–2011), published two years later. This paper compares the architectural style of buildings during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and the 1989 World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang, and how North and South Korea competed each other to gain sole international fame and recognition by transmuting the two cities into an upscale capital filled with global architectural landmarks that would represent the regime

This panel is on Wednesday - Session 02 - Room 8

Go to Room 8