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The Masterpieces of Yesterday, the Forgotten Today: The Short Life of the Korean New Wave1

Sora Hong

Résumés

La Korean New Wave renvoie aux films sud-coréens des années 1980 et 1990 qui s’intéressent aux problèmes de société et qui montrent une nouvelle imagination en termes de genre. Elle est officialisée lors du premier Festival international du film de Busan en 1996. Avec sa reconnaissance dans la société, le cinéma sud-coréen qui a longtemps été méprisé même par des spectateurs locaux s’est hissé au rang d’art. Cependant, cette première nouvelle vague sud-coréenne est vite oubliée, peu de temps après son officialisation. Afin de mieux saisir cette transformation, cette recherche attire l’attention sur l’évolution des cinéphilies en Corée du Sud.
La poursuite du « réalisme critique » et celle de la valeur artistique du cinéma fondent l’identité de la Korean New Wave. Ces principaux critères d’éligibilité des œuvres de la nouvelle vague proviennent de deux ambitions des discours sur le cinéma alternatif : l’ambition esthétique pour établir le 7e art sud-coréen et l’ambition politique pour se présenter comme étant un contrepoids à un système politique jugé corrompu. Cette nouvelle vague est donc le fruit de la convergence des deux ambitions qui s’opposaient durant le mouvement pour la démocratisation de la société des années 1980. Cependant, avec la légitimation culturelle du cinéma sud-coréen des années 1990, l’ambition esthétique a pris le pas et ce fait a rompu l’équilibre.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 This article is based on my Ph. D dissertation which is not published.

1In 1996, the first new wave of South Korean cinema, Korean New Wave (hereinafter KNW), was presented at the first Busan International Film Festival. The festival marked the advent of South Korean cinema as a significant contributor to the seventh art. In 2019, the festival selected “the 10 great films of 100 years of (South) Korean cinema history.” Among these films, two were presented under the label KNW in 1996: Seopyeonje by Im Kwon-taek (1993) and Dalmaga dongjjogeuro gan kkadalgeun (Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East?) by Bae Yong-kyun (1989). Does this selection of films show that the KNW is rooted in the history of South-Korean cinema?

  • 2 Mun 2004: Jae-cheol Mun, “Hanguk yeonghwa eseo jakga chuui damnon ui yeokhare daehan yeongu (Studie (...)
  • 3 Cinephilia is embodied in different ways. It can be “a way of seeing films, of speaking about them, (...)

2In order to answer this question, we must first define the KNW. Since the inception of the movement, the heterogeneity of styles and philosophies represented by the KNW directors sparked much debate about its legitimacy as an artistic movement. Academics have criticized this lack of coordination if not coherence which makes it difficult to group directors with different styles into a single category (Kim 1996; Kim 2004; Kim 2006; Jeong 2007). However, following the unexpected arrival of Post-KNW in the 2000s, South Korea’s academic world of cinema hastily ended the debate. By revealing the interest of “pooling awareness of problems through the prism of realism”2 within the KNW, South Korean researchers defined this new wave as indicative of films from the 1980s and 1990s interested in social issues and revealing a new imagination in terms of genre. In this research, we will work with KNW as presented at the Busan Festival in 1996 with the aim of emphasizing continuity within South Korean cinephilias.3

  • 4 The film by Bae won the Leopard d’or, the grand prize of the Locarno Festival in 1989. Im’s film is (...)

3Let us return to the original question. We recall the two main criteria of “eligibility” for KNW films as an art: contribution to the evolution of society and the pursuit of an artistic goal. Indeed, by showing a certain “Koreanness,” Seopyeonje and Dalmaga dongjjogeuro gan kkadalgeun? have been recognized at international, albeit mainly European film festivals. At a time when South Korean cinema was still neglected in its country of origin, its international recognition was seen as a surprising fact. As a result, both films attracted a remarkable number of spectators within South Korea. 4The State awarded the National Order of Cultural Merit to their directors, the first time that the government had presented awards and decorations to filmmakers in the country. Therefore, we can see that among the KNW films, only those that have widely proven their artistic value remain unforgettable to this day. We can also note the abandonment of the first criterion – contributing to the evolution of society – following the selection of 2019.

  • 5 Especially the first one was considered a masterpiece by the critics of the MHSD: in 1990, Yeonghwa (...)
  • 6 Shin 2006: Kang-ho Shin, “Munhwawon sedae, yeonghwa gwang munhwa-ui taedong (Munhwawon sedae, the b (...)

4As a result of this development, some KNW “masterpieces” have fallen into oblivion. Examples include films by Park Kwang-su, in particular Geudeuldo uricheoreom (Black Republic, 1990) and Geu seome gago sipda (To the Starry Island, 1993).5 In his films, Park Kwang-su perceptively describes the tragedies of South Korean contemporary history, notably the division of the country, the Korean War, the anti-Communist or anti-North-Korean ideology, the economic exploitation by the dominant class, the dictatorship, and the struggles for democratization. The director was considered to be the driving force of a new Chungmuro,6 or South Korean Hollywood. However, since the 2000s, he has not made as many films, and in 2019 none of his films were named for the selection at the Busan Film Festival. There has therefore been a change in the status of certain KNW films.

5This transformation can be explained by evoking changes in socio-political contexts: inter alia, the political democratization of South Korea in the late 1980s; the change in the country’s film environment as a result of changes in the Cinema Act; with a new system for the film industry led by the intervention of chaebol (conglomerates of South Korean companies), etc. However, as in previous studies (Kim 2004; Yu 2005; Kim 2006), the individuals involved in these changes are often overlooked and forgotten. As Karel Kosík (1968, pp. 79–90) insisted, an individual can transform the world in collaboration and in relation to others. [vol. 9] For this reason, this research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the social history of South Korean cinema. In order to better understand the evolution of the country’s cinephilias, which played a role in changing the status of KNW films, we will first consider the establishment of the two main criteria for new wave masterpieces. Then we will analyze the changing perspectives on what constitutes a “good” South Korean film.

Establishing the Spirit of the Korean New Wave

  • 7 Park Chung-hee (19171979). President of the Republic of Korea from 1962 to 1979.

6By the end of the 1960s, the creation of numerous popular magazines and gazettes, as well as the proliferation of television channels, provided South Korea’s population with more and more entertainment options. At the same time, the authoritarian regime of Park Chung-hee7 encouraged filmmakers to make films for the government. The South Korean cinema of the 1970s was therefore polarized into two categories: on one hand, propaganda films, and on the other, entertainment films. This is how the country’s cinema came to experience a “dark age.” Therefore, as we can see in an autobiographical film by Jeong Ji-yeong, Heolliudeu kideuui saengae (Life and Death of the Hollywood Kid, 1994), for South Korean cinephiles at the time, Korean cinema was “rustic” and did not deserve the “gogeup gwangaek” (upper-class spectators). The films that fascinated the cinephiles were mainly from Hollywood or Europe.

  • 8 In the 1970s, there were only about 20 production companies in South Korea because of the governmen (...)
  • 9 Jung Sung-il (1955—). South Korean film critic and director. Former editor of the film magazines Ro (...)
  • 10 Jung 2015: Sung-il Jung, interview conducted on 7 January 2015, Seoul, South Korea.

7Despite the desire to see all the films that had achieved a certain status in the western film world, the places to see films were limited. 8These included the US Army television channel, the American Forces Korea Network (AFKN), and weekly television programs such as MBC’s Jumarui myeonghwa (Weekend Movie Classic) and KBS1TV’s Myeonghwa geukjang (Classic movie theater). These were the main media for viewing films considered as “classics.” According to Jung Sung-il, 9cinema critics gave the impression that these films were “yeonghwaui kkeutpanwang10 (the “leaders” of the top level of cinema), for example, The Third Man, Forbidden Games and The Bicycle Thief:

  • 11 Ibid.

Here are the three best films for the cinephiles and film critics of the time: The Third Man, Forbidden Games and The Bicycle Thief. The critics gave us the impression that we would master the cinematographic art once we saw all these “champions” of the last level of the cinema […] I was a depressed boy (because I could not see the films I wanted) in the first year of high school. […] The film (Forbidden Games) was so missing that my thirst was disturbing. 11

  • 12 The films shown most often in 1977 and 1978 were Jean Renoir’s with six films, including The Crime (...)
  • 13 Hong 2014: Ki-seon Hong (South Korean director and writer), interview conducted on 19 August 2014, (...)

8Out of contempt for domestic cinema, South Korean cinephiles were looking for an imaginary key with which they dreamed of opening the door to the art of film. They believed that they could find this key among the Western films they could not easily access. Foreign cultural centers opened up new horizons for them, notably the French Cultural Center (hereinafter FCC) and the Goethe Institut (hereinafter Goethe) in Seoul. They hosted numerous cinematographic programs, such as the regular screening of European films and film clubs. The FCC often screened films from the French Impressionist School and the Nouvelle Vague,12 and the German Goethe Institute mainly showed expressionist cinema and New German cinema. Attracted by this “window on European cinema” 13  as early as the late 1970s, young cinephiles undertook to study cinema collectively through meetings that allowed them to build up a group of young self-taught cinephiles. These young people would later become directors (e.g. Park Kwang-su, Kwak Jae-yong, Hong Ki-seon), film producers (e.g. Ahn Dong-Kyu), film critics (e.g. Jung Sung-il, Han Sang-jun), professors of cinema (e.g. Yu Gina, Kang Hanseop) and programmers for film festivals (e.g. Jeon Yang-jun, Kim Hong-jun).

  • 14 In the 1970s, the term “minjung” was redefined by intellectuals to refer to the people who were vic (...)

9Since the 1990s, following the expansion of their presence in South Korean cinema, the media named this group Munhwawon sedae (hereinafter MHSD), the generation of the cultural centers. We define the MHSD as a group of individuals who constitute, through cinephilic activities at the FCC and Goethe Institute of the late 1970s and early 1980s, a network that focused on the cultural legitimization of South Korean cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. MHSD members first developed an artistic approach to South Korean cinema, working to recognize artistic values in South Korean films. Using ideas from Louis Giannetti, Siegfried Kracauer, André Bazin and François Truffaut, they wanted to apply la politique des auteurs (the policy of the authors) to South Korean cinema. In addition to their passion for the seventh art, MHSD members shared a certain socio-political sensitivity: for them, South Korea’s authoritarian regime and corrupt film industry were major obstacles to the evolution of the country’s cinematographic art. This perspective comes, more locally, from the discourses of the cultural movement in favor of the minjung (people). 14In seeking an alternative cinema, independent of the political power and capital of the industry, the MHSD would have been familiar with the Third World cinema movement, in particular the Cinema novo of Brazil, the struggles of the Ukamau group of Bolivia and the Grupo cine de liberacion in Argentina.

  • 15 The June 1987 democratic uprising, also known as the June Democratic Struggle, was a national prote (...)
  • 16 Lee 1989: Jeong-ha Lee, “Minjok yeonghwa undong-ui jojik silcheonjeok immu-wa gwaje (The missions a (...)
  • 17 Ibid., p. 56.

10There were two important ambitions within MHSD cinephilia: the aesthetic ambition in pursuit of the establishment of a South Korean seventh art and the political ambition for alternative cinema contributing to the evolution of the life of minjung. Unlike the end of the 1970s when the MHSD network was formed, as the movement for the democratization of the country gained energy throughout the 1980s, the resistance against the authoritarian regime then took on gradually more importance than the seventh art as such. Since the democratic uprising in June 1987,15 social actors in the alternative cinema movement have emphasized “that it was better to abandon cinema if it could not be made to go with the (social) movement.” 16All the pursuits of Western cinematographic art were perceived as the result of “the cultural ideology of the intellectual class and the petty bourgeoisie.” 17In this vein, the discourses of the socialist cinema of colonial Korea and North Korea were more appropriate references than Third World cinema. Thus, contrary to the MHSD’s starting point, political ambition had clearly taken precedence over aesthetic ambition. The initial cinephilia had turned into a social movement.

  • 18 Following the revision of the Constitution in 1987, Roh Tae-woo then successor to Chun Doo-hwan, wa (...)
  • 19 KIM 1999: Sunam Kim, “Bipanjeok rieollijeumgwa hanguk yeonghwa mihage gwanhan nonui (Discussion on (...)

11This radicalism ended with the political democratization of South Korea18 and the end of the Cold War in the late 1980s. The democratization movement had an unexpected lull, its activists finding themselves demobilized. Since then, we have once again discovered an attempt to balance the two ambitions of the MHSD. On the one hand, the demonization of the artistic quest of cinema has been abandoned. On the other hand, those who despised the radicalism attached some importance to the fact that cinema could contribute to improving the life of the minjung. Thus, the members of the MHSD came together again to collectively produce and disseminate artistic discourses on cinema. The founding of the magazine Yeonghwa eoneo (Language of Cinema) at the end of 1989 is a case in point. The magazine claimed a commitment to cinema while emphasizing auteur cinema and structuralism. It was therefore interested in the search for alternative cinema by South Korean auteurs through narratological analysis and the mises en scène of Korean films. In this vein, some directors are considered “jakga” (artists), including Yu Hyeon-mok, Im Kwon-taek, Park Kwang-su and Jang Sun-woo. The use of “jakga” in South Korean cinema is no doubt the result of the acceptance of the politique des auteurs from France. However, the “jakga” of auteur cinema does not correspond exactly to the figure of auteurs as presented in the Western world. In contrast, a “jakga” of South Korean cinema must satisfy not only the artistic approach but also must not neglect the evolution of South Korean society through cinema. In order, therefore, to evoke the first condition, formalism was applied and, for the latter, the tradition of designating auteurs on the basis of “bipanjeok rieollijeum” (critical realism).19

12A few years later, leading editors of Yeonghwa eoneo magazine, such as Yi Yonggwan, Kim Jiseok and Jeon Yang-jun, founded the Busan International Film Festival in 1996. Other members of the MHSD were also mobilized to organize this event. For the festival’s retrospective section on Korean cinema, they selected the KNW “jakga” while continuing their pursuit of “critical realism.” This collective name was affected by the English-language book published by the festival, Korean New Wave: Retrospectives from 1980 to 1995:

Table 1. KNW “jakga” presented at the 1st Busan Festival

The Legitimation of South Korean Cinema and the End of the Korean New Wave

  • 20 More than 184,000 spectators from all over the country filled the city of Busan. Even films perceiv (...)

13Following the considerable success of the first Busan Festival,20 MHSD perspectives on what was a “good South Korean film” were widely disseminated in South Korean society. At the same time, the status of South Korean cinema, previously disparaged by domestic viewers, changed: until the 1980s, South Korean cinema was called “banghwa.” The word “bang” can refer to a country as well as a feudal domain. During the Joseon period (1392–1910), this term was used to designate Korean cultural productions, as compared to China, in order to underline its status as a “true culture.” During Japanese colonization (1910–1945), the term “banghwa” was used to distinguish the films of the colonized from those of Japan. As long as the country’s films were mocked by domestic viewers, the term was tinted with cynicism and carried strong pejorative connotations. However, in the mid-1990s, the term “banghwa” was replaced by more neutral terms, such as “hanguk yeonghwa” (Korean cinema) and “guksan yeonghwa” (films produced domestically). The use of these expressions suggests that South Korean cinema had finally gained a form of cultural legitimacy.

14At the same time, the cultural sections of the national daily newspapers experienced a quantitative and qualitative evolution. According to Yang Eun-gyeong (2000, pp. 146–149), articles devoted to popular culture increased considerably starting from 1993. This change was also made possible by the dissemination of theoretical knowledge of the seventh art, including cinematographic vocabulary and currents of ideas. From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, the media focused on industry, film policy or stars. Since that period, among the daily newspaper articles dealing with cinema, the number of feature articles as well as analyses and reports have increased. According to Yi Sanggil (2005, pp. 92–96), since the mid-1990s, cinema has become an important subject for the media as it has guaranteed a certain category of readers for them. [vol. 13, no. 2]

  • 21 Sinchun munye (Annual spring literary contest) is a literary contest organized by South Korean dail (...)

15The cultural legitimization of cinema in South Korea is also evident in the academic and intellectual world. For example, in 1997, following the increase in the number of cinephiles, a South Korean national daily newspaper Dong-A ilbo created a section dedicated to film criticism within the Sinchun munye (Spring Annual Literature Competitions). 21This contest was perceived as the main gateway into the literary and artistic worlds — in other words, a means to become an intellectual. In addition, literary magazines, once restricted to literary elites, began to show an interest in cinema starting from the mid-1990s. Previously, film criticism was a genre sidelined by these magazines because of prejudices against cinema: a film was either mere entertainment or a propaganda tool. However, new cultural journals such as Mal (Words), Munhwa gwahak (Science of Culture), Sangsang (Imagination), Ribyu (Review) and Munhak dongne (Literary Village) started to present their readers with thought, criticism and theory related to cinema. They provided cultural authority and legitimacy for this art form, newly admitted in South Korea. The academic world has responded to the change in society’s general outlook on cinema. Until the end of the 1980s, there were only a dozen universities in South Korea where students could study film. It was only from 1995 onwards, with the evolution of the status of cinema, that the number of establishments offering higher education in the field of cinema began to grow.

  • 22 The representative cases are: Yi Seonguk (1960–2002) and Yi Deokjae (1959—), former members of the (...)
  • 23 Since the creation of the doctoral program in film studies at Chung-ang University in 1990, the fir (...)

16The emergence of the MHSD should also be seen as part of the cultural legitimization of cinema in South Korea. For example, the literary journals mentioned above were directed by new people present in the intellectual field, such as masters students, doctoral students or young graduates.22 On the other hand, the leaders of pre-existing social or human-science journals were university professors or critics belonging to the literary milieu. Young researchers tried to distinguish themselves from their elders in order to avoid being sidelined by the hierarchy of the intellectual field and so acquire their own authority. MHSD members often collaborated in the publication of these journals; for example, Park Kwang-su was a member of the advisory committee of the literary journal Sangsang and Jung Sung-il was one of the regular editors of Mal from 1991 to 2007. At the same time, daily newspapers that had recognized the growing interest in cinema hired MHSD members as external editors for their cultural sections, including Hankyoreh and Kyunghyang Shinmun. We can also note the presence of the MHSD in the academic field. Following the establishment of university courses in film studies, the schools needed teachers for these courses. However, there were very few PhDs in film studies in the country. 23For this reason, a master’s degree was sufficient for a full teaching position at a South Korean university. We can cite the careers of MHSD members like Yi Yonggwan and Yi Chungjik as examples.

  • 24 We can cite, among others, Dachin hyeonsil yeollin yeonghwa: yu hyeonmok kamdok (The enclosed reali (...)

17Unlike in the 1980s, cinema became an object to which educated people needed to have access from an analytical perspective, and the MHSD highlighted this aspect in its own discourse. The members of the MHSD therefore rose to the status of spokespeople and educators. In this context, the political ambition of MHSD cinephilia, once the driving force of the alternative cinema movement fighting against the authoritarian regime, weakened. At the same time, the MHSD’s aesthetic ambition was being reinforced. Following Jung Sung-il’s 1987 book on Im Kwon-taek, Hanguk yeonghwa yeongu 1: Im Kwon-taek (Korean Film Studies 1: Im Kwon-taek), members of the MHSD published numerous books on South Korean “jakga.” throughout the 1990s.24 They also became important members of the Hanguk yeonghwa hakhoe (South Korean Film Studies Association) and principal editors of its journal, Yeonghwa yeongu (Film Studies).

  • 25 There is more continuity rather than discontinuity between these two new waves. Indeed, it is easy (...)

18Thus, MHSD film discourses that were part of the subculture during the democratization movement became established in the dominant culture as early as the 1990s. At the same time as the aesthetic ambition of the MHSD was increasing, an imbalance was introduced between the two ambitions of the group’s cinephilia. Consequently, the KNW, the fruit of the convergence of the two ambitions of MHSD cinephilia, lost one of its two pillars. The decline of the KNW accelerated with the arrival of Post-Korean-New-Wave filmmakers in the late 1990s, including Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Jee-woon, Lee Chang-dong and Hong Sang-soo.25 These filmmakers caught the attention of cinephiles with their genre films. Faced with the emergence of these new filmmakers, the directors of the “old” new wave disappeared:

  • 26 Jung 2015: Ibid.

The day a pig fell into the well by Hong Sang-soo (1996) devastated those who poured out criticism based on it (critical realism) because they had no framework to analyze his movie. […] The meaning of Hong Sang-soo is very special [in the history of criticism of Korean films]. Despite the limitations of Korean films at that time, he made films with modern cinema thinking, and his movie expanded the horizons of Korean critical discourse.26

19It is therefore understandable why the term KNW is more widely used to designate the Post-KNW directors who were ultimately more innovative. Today, most of the KNW filmmakers are no longer making films, and they have become university film professors, despite their earlier promises to carry on making films.

Conclusion

20The history of Korean cinema began in 1919 during Japanese colonization. However, in order to see its cultural legitimation, we have to wait until the last decade of the twentieth century with the announcement of the first new wave of South Korean cinema: the Korean New Wave. However, the KNW’s life was very short. Today, it can be found only in books on the history of Korean film. Since the commercial success and aesthetic recognition of South Korean films internationally in the 2000s, this expression has often been used to designate another movement: the Post-Korean New Wave. In this context, some researchers, especially Anglophone scholars, refuse to adopt a KNW-based periodization, and differentiate 1990s South Korean cinema from what preceded it under the neologism of New Korean Cinema (Shin and Stringer 2005). KNW films that had once been referred to as masterpieces have been quickly forgotten. In this paper, we investigated one of the reasons for this decline in South Korean cinephilias.

21The cinephiles’ efforts to end the “dark age” of South Korean cinema contributed to the arrival of the KNW. In the discourse on the new South Korean cinema, we find an important presence of MHSD members who shared two major ambitions: one aesthetic and the other political. Depending on the socio-political context of the country, there has been a more or less fervent duel between these two ambitions. The first (the aesthetic) played a major role before the rise of the democratization movement by encouraging the search for the auteurs of South Korea’s seventh art. But as the struggles against the authoritarian regime deepened, the latter (the political) took precedence. Since the country’s political democratization, the duel between these two ambitions has been resolved by a return to “critical realism,” which is the central approach behind the KNW. We can therefore interpret this new wave as evidence of a “reconciliation” of the two previously opposed ambitions. Here we can note the “immaturity” of the KNW: South Korean society, which recognized the artistic value of cinema and the rise of its status, expected something more innovative than what this new wave produced. However, the KNW was a continuation of the developments of the previous decade, and the “critical realism” as an aesthetic approach could not satisfy the expectations of film criticism in the early 21st century.

22Moreover, by the time the KNW was recognized, the spokespersons—that is, the members of the MHSD—had already begun to abandon the political ambition of this new wave. They were both facilitators of the cultural legitimization of South Korean cinema and its primary beneficiaries. As cinema became a dominant culture in Korean society, those who led the discourse of the new national cinema also joined the elite class. They became editors-in-chief of film magazines, film teachers, film critics, and even senior government officials concerned with the country’s film policy. In the current state of society where the democratization movement has been partially achieved and former activists have become spokespersons, the alternative cinema that the MHSD had previously pursued lost a part of its objectives that needed to be replaced. In this context, by assuming the role of an educator in the seventh art, the MHSD has placed more importance on the aesthetic ambition of South Korean cinema. Consequently, the KNW, having lost one of its two main pillars, could no longer maintain itself.

  • 27 Until 1988, South Koreans could not freely leave the territory without government permission.

23We conclude by proposing the possibility of perceiving KNW differently, by considering it to be the continuity of the evolution of cinephilias in South Korea. This raises another topic for study, as this research does not take the cinephiles who appeared after MHSD into account. Unlike the members of MHSD who had to travel to foreign cultural centers to see films and share film experiences, South Korean cinephiles in the 1990s could more easily satisfy their desire to see a variety of films through video clubs, cinema-specific cable channels, and private cinematheques. They could also discover film culture in a broader way through the experience of their trips or voyages abroad.27 In addition, they had greater access to information and knowledge about cinema, while MHSD members had to rely on foreign sources not translated into Korean. Thanks to the MHSD’s extensive presence in the media and publications, its aesthetic ambition for the seventh art has been shared by South Korean cinephiles. Furthermore, they met each other more widely through the country’s telematics network, which was established in 1988 and became popular at the start of the following decade. These cinephiles, brought together by this new technology, have put more emphasis on “taste.” In order to deepen our understanding of the end of KNW, a study of this more popular cinephilia of the 1990s seems essential.

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Bibliographie

De Baecque 2005: Antoine De Baecque, La cinéphilie, Invention d’un regard, histoire d’une culture 1944-1968, Paris, Hachette Littératures, 2005.

Gauthier 1999: Christophe Gauthier, La Passion du Cinéma. Cinéphiles, ciné-clubs et salles spécialisées à Paris de 1920 à 1929, Paris, École nationale des chartes, 1999.

Gimello-Mesplomb 2012: Frédéric Gimello-Mesplomb, L’invention d’un genre : le cinéma fantastique français ou les constructions sociales d’un objet de la cinéphilie ordinaire, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2012.

Jullier and Leveratto 2010 : Laurent Jullier and Jean-Marc Leveratto, Cinéphiles et cinéphilies, Paris, Armand Colin, 2010.

Kim, Lee and YI 1996: Kyeonghwan Kim, Jeong-ha Lee and Hyo-in Yi, Korean New Wave: Retrospectives from 1980 to 1995, Seoul, PIFF, 1996.

Kim 2004: Seon-a Kim, Hanguk yeonghwaraneun natseon gyeonggye (Korean Cinema, an unusual border), Seoul, Communication books, 2004.

Kim 2006: Mihyeon Kim (ed.), Hanguk yeonghwasa—gaehwagieseo gaehwagikkaji (History of Korean cinema—from the beginning to its flowering), Seoul, Communication books, 2006.

MacCabe 1999: Colin MacCabe, The Eloquence of the Vulgar, London, British Film Institute, 1999.

Shin and Stringer 2005: Chi-Yun Shin and Julian Stringer (eds.), New Korean cinema, New York, New York University Press, 2005.

Yu 2005: Gina Yu (ed.), Hanguk yeonghwasa gongbu 1980–1997 (Korean cinema history studies 1980–1997), Seoul, Ichae, 2005.

Chapter in an Edited Book

Lee 1989: Jeong-ha Lee, “Minjok yeonghwa undongui jojik silcheonjeok immuwa gwaje (The missions and duties of the practice and organization of the movement for the National Cinema),” in Minjok yeonghwa yeonguso (ed.), Minjok yeonghwa 1 (National Cinema 1), Busan, Chingu, 1989.

Shin 2006: Kang-ho Shin, “Munhwawon sedae, yeonghwa gwang munhwa-ui taedong (Munhwawon sedae, the birth of cinephilic culture),” in Mihyeon Kim (ed.), Hanguk yeonghwasa—gaehwagieseo gaehwagikkaji (History of Korean cinema—from the beginning to its flowering), Seoul, Communication books, 2006.

Thesis

Hong 2019: Sora Hong, “La génération des centres culturels (Munhwawon sedae) et la nouvelle vague du cinéma sud-coréen des années 1980-1990 (The generation of cultural centers (Munhwawon sedae) and the new wave of South Korean cinema from the 1980s and 1990s),” Ph. D. dissertation, École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales, 2019.

Yang 2000 : Eungyeong Yang, “1990 nyeondae hanguk munhwa yeonguui hyeongseonggwa gwollyeok hyogwa (The Formation of Cultural Studies and Their Power Effects in the 1990s in South Korea),” Ph. D. dissertation, Seoul National University, 2000.

Journal Articles – Print

Kosík 1968: Karel Kosík, “L’individu et l’histoire (The individual and history)”, L’Homme et la société, 1968, vol. 9.

Kim 2006: Soyeon Kim, “Minjok yeonghwaronui byeoniwa ‘korian nyuweibeu’ yeonghwa damnonui hyeonseong (Evolution of discourses on national cinema and the formation of discourses on the ‘Korean New Wave’),” Daejung seosa yeongu, 2006, vol. 15.

KIM 1999: Sunam Kim, “Bipanjeok rieollijeumgwa hanguk yeonghwa mihage gwanhan nonui (Discussion on the critical realism and aesthetics of Korean cinema),” Kongyeongwa ribyu, 1999, vol. 21.

Kim 1996: Yeongjin Kim, “Asia yeonghwaui saeroun gireun itneunga—busan gukje yeonghwajereul bogo (Does Asian cinema have a new future?—after seeing the BIFF),” Changjakgwa bipyeong, 1996, vol. 24.

Mun 2004: Jae-cheol Mun, “Hanguk yeonghwaeseo jakga chuui damnonui yeokhare daehan yeongu (Studies on the role of author cinema discourse in Korean cinema),” Yeonghwa yeongu, 2004, vol. 24.

Shin 2006: Kang Ho Shin, “Hanguk yeonghwa gyoyukgwa yeonguui yeoksawa mirae (The history and future of film education and research in South Korea),” Hanguk yeonghwa hakhoe haksul balpyo daehoe nonmunjip, 2006.

Yi 2005: Sanggil Yi, “1990nyeondae hanguk yeonghwa jangneuui munhwajeok jeongdanghwa gwajeong yeongu (The study of the cultural legitimization process of Korean cinema in the 1990s),” Eollongwa sahoe, 2005, vol. 13, no. 2.

Journal Articles (Electronic)

Park and Pisano 2015: Heui-Tae Park and Giusy Pisano, “Enseignement du cinéma et des médias en Corée du Sud (Film and media education in South Korea),” Mise au Point, 2015, vol. 7.

Journal, Magazine and Newspaper Articles

Cheong 2007: Jonghwa Cheong, “Hanguk yeonghwaui nameoji banjjok (The other half of Korean cinema),” Cine 21, 3 May 2007.

Pae 1996: Changsu Pae, “Je ilhoe busan gukje yeonghwaje gyeolsan (The report on the first BIFF),” Kyunghyang Shinmun, 23 September 1996.

Anonyme 2019: Anonyme, “The 100 Year History of Korean Cinema: 10 Great Korean Films,” Korean Cinema Today, October 2019.

Interviews

Hong 2014: Ki-seon Hong, qualitative interviews conducted on 19 August 2014, Seoul, South Korea.

Jeon 2014: Yang-jun Jeon, qualitative interviews conducted on 20 October 2014, Seoul, South Korea.

Jung 2015: Sung-il Jung, qualitative interviews conducted on 7 January 2015, Seoul, South Korea.

Websites

Hanguk gyoyuk haksul jeongbowon (Korea Education and Research Information Service). <http://www.riss.kr>.

Hanguk gyoyuk gaebarwon (Korean Educational Development Institute). Gyoyuk tonggye yeonbo (Annual educational statistics report). <http://cesi.kedi.re.kr>.

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Note de fin

1 This article is based on my Ph. D dissertation which is not published.

2 Mun 2004: Jae-cheol Mun, “Hanguk yeonghwa eseo jakga chuui damnon ui yeokhare daehan yeongu (Studies on the role of author cinema discourse in Korean cinema),” Yeonghwa yeongu, 2004, vol. 24, p. 153.

3 Cinephilia is embodied in different ways. It can be “a way of seeing films, of speaking about them, then of disseminating this discourse” (De Baecque 2005), but also “cinematographic culture, in the double sense of knowledge acquired through experience in films and an action to cultivate cinematographic pleasure” (Jullier and Leveratto 2010). Ordinary cinephilia can be distinguished from elite cinephilia. For this reason, this article uses the plural form of cinephilia, cinephilias.

4 The film by Bae won the Leopard d’or, the grand prize of the Locarno Festival in 1989. Im’s film is the first South Korean production nominated at the Cannes Film Festival. These two films were in the top ten Korean films of the year: 143,881 admissions in Seoul for Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? in 1989 and 1,035,741 admissions in Seoul for Seopyeonje in 1993. It was the first South Korean film to sell over one million tickets in the history of South Korean cinema.

5 Especially the first one was considered a masterpiece by the critics of the MHSD: in 1990, Yeonghwa eoneo named it best film of the year. It was also recognized by one of South Korea’s leading film festivals, the Blue Dragon Film Awards. The latter awarded Geudeuldo uricheoreom the prize for best film in the same year.

6 Shin 2006: Kang-ho Shin, “Munhwawon sedae, yeonghwa gwang munhwa-ui taedong (Munhwawon sedae, the birth of cinephilic culture),” in Mihyeon Kim (ed.), Hanguk yeonghwasa—gaehwagi-eseo gaehwagi-kkaji (History of Korean cinema—from the beginning to its flowering), Seoul, Communication books, 2006, p. 290.

7 Park Chung-hee (19171979). President of the Republic of Korea from 1962 to 1979.

8 In the 1970s, there were only about 20 production companies in South Korea because of the government’s requirements. They also handled the importation of foreign films. A producer could obtain the right to import a foreign film under the condition that he made at least four films per year. As a result, producers favored Hollywood films and Hong Kong action films, a guarantee of commercial success.

9 Jung Sung-il (1955—). South Korean film critic and director. Former editor of the film magazines Roadshow and Kino.

10 Jung 2015: Sung-il Jung, interview conducted on 7 January 2015, Seoul, South Korea.

11 Ibid.

12 The films shown most often in 1977 and 1978 were Jean Renoir’s with six films, including The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936) and A Day in the Country (1936), followed by Claude Chabrol’s with five films such as The Unfaithful Wife (1969) and Le Boucher (1970), the latter was shown twice. Then came François Truffaut (4 films), Julien Duvivier (4 films), Jean Cocteau (3 films) and Claude Sautet (3 films).

13 Hong 2014: Ki-seon Hong (South Korean director and writer), interview conducted on 19 August 2014, Seoul, South Korea.

14 In the 1970s, the term “minjung” was redefined by intellectuals to refer to the people who were victims of the social contradictions produced by the ruling class, with the hope to allow a real evolution of society.

15 The June 1987 democratic uprising, also known as the June Democratic Struggle, was a national protest movement that took place in South Korea from 10 to 29 June 1987. These demonstrations forced the ruling government to hold elections and institute other democratic reforms that led to the creation of the Sixth Republic, the current government of South Korea.

16 Lee 1989: Jeong-ha Lee, “Minjok yeonghwa undong-ui jojik silcheonjeok immu-wa gwaje (The missions and duties of the practice and organization of the movement for the National Cinema),” in Minjok yeonghwa yeonguso (ed.), Minjok yeonghwa 1 (National Cinema 1), Busan, Chingu, 1989, p. 54.

17 Ibid., p. 56.

18 Following the revision of the Constitution in 1987, Roh Tae-woo then successor to Chun Doo-hwan, was elected by direct suffrage as the first president of the Sixth Republic of Korea in 1988.

19 KIM 1999: Sunam Kim, “Bipanjeok rieollijeumgwa hanguk yeonghwa mihage gwanhan nonui (Discussion on the critical realism and aesthetics of Korean cinema),” Kongyeongwa ribyu, 1999, vol. 21, p. 46.

20 More than 184,000 spectators from all over the country filled the city of Busan. Even films perceived to be highly artistic (and therefore less attractive to the general public) or short films had a greater occupancy rate of over 90%. Source: Pae Jangsu. Je ilhoe busan gukje yeonghwaje gyeolsan (The report on the first BIFF). Kyunghyang Shinmun, 23 September 1996.

21 Sinchun munye (Annual spring literary contest) is a literary contest organized by South Korean daily newspapers each spring to discover young writers. The first competition was held in 1925 by the Dong-A ilbo.

22 The representative cases are: Yi Seonguk (1960–2002) and Yi Deokjae (1959—), former members of the editorial committee of Munhwa gwahak; Ju Inseok (1963—), the first editor-in-chief of Sangsang; Kang Heon (1962—) and Gwon Seongu (1963—) from the editorial committee of Ribyu. Most of the members of the editorial committee of Munhak dongne were also born in the early 1960s, including Nam Jinu and Hwang Jongyeon.

23 Since the creation of the doctoral program in film studies at Chung-ang University in 1990, the first thesis in film studies was defended in 1992 and the second in 1996 in South Korea.

24 We can cite, among others, Dachin hyeonsil yeollin yeonghwa: yu hyeonmok kamdok (The enclosed reality, open cinema: Director Yu Hyeon-mok) by Jeon Yang-jun and Zhang Kee-Chul (1992), Hangugui yeonghwa kamdok sipsamin (Thirteen South Korean directors) by Yi Hyo-in (1994), Hanguk yeonghwa jakga yeongu (Studies on author-directors of South Korean Cinema) by Kim Sunam (1995), Uri yeonghwaui mihak (The aesthetics of South Korean cinema) by Kim Jeong ryong (1997) and Yeonghwa jakgajuui ui yeoksawa silcheon (History and practice of author cinema) by Yi Yonggwan (1997). Many books on the South Korean “jakga” also appeared in the years 2000 and 2010.

25 There is more continuity rather than discontinuity between these two new waves. Indeed, it is easy to see that the protagonists of the Korean new wave served as touchstones to form the representative directors of the post-Korean new wave: before directing his first commercial film, Chorok mulgogi (Green Fish) in 1997, Lee Chang-dong joined the world of cinema working in Park Kwang-su’s filmmaking team, Geu seome gago sipda (The Starry Island, 1993). He was also involved in writing the screenplay for a Park’s film, Areumdaun cheongnyeon cheon taeil (A Single Spark, 1995); according to Jeon Yang-jun (Jay Jeon, qualitative interviews conducted on 20 October 2014, Seoul, South Korea), Bong Joon-ho participated in the film studies seminar organized by Yeonghwa eoneo (Language of Cinema); and also, when Jung Sung-il was editor-in-chief of the film magazine, Screen, he created “Dossier,” a section dedicated to readers wishing to study cinema. It helped young cinephiles later become directors as Ryoo Seung-wan, Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho said (Jung 2015).

26 Jung 2015: Ibid.

27 Until 1988, South Koreans could not freely leave the territory without government permission.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Table 1. KNW “jakga” presented at the 1st Busan Festival
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Référence électronique

Sora Hong, « The Masterpieces of Yesterday, the Forgotten Today: The Short Life of the Korean New Wave »Mise au point [En ligne], 15 | 2022, mis en ligne le 15 mars 2022, consulté le 27 septembre 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/map/5878 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/map.5878

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