This paper examines two remarkable films from the Golden Age of South Korean cinema (1955–1972) against the larger sociocultural backdrop of postwar South Korea. The films Mabu (The Coachman, Kang Taejin, director 1961) and Obalt’an (The Stray Bullet, Yu Hyônmok, director 1961) came out at a crucial historical moment for South Korea ’s nation rebuilding and postwar industrialization efforts, and reveal much about Korea’s nationhood, its masculine character, and its responses to postwar chaos and Americas quasi-colonial presence. Through their reaffirmation of patriarchy, construction of a modern masculine national subject, and vilification of women, who are visually and otherwise associated with modernity and Westernization, the films offer insight into postwar Korean life and values—and betray Korea’s deeply ambiguous feelings toward modernity. Hence this paper seeks to illustrate the connection between popular movies and the government ideology of this period, and more specifically, how the issues of family, masculinity, and modernity are connected to the nation rebuilding project that the South Korean state proposed during the early 1960s.

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