Abstract

This article examines South Korea’s cinematic adaptation of the colonial literature, more specifically the short fiction of nativist (鄕土, hyangt’o) aesthetics. It begins with a brief survey of literary art film (文藝映畵, munye yŏnghwa), which emerged as a film cycle of the 1960s, and raises questions about interpretive issues in reading postcolonial films. In short, I claim that the literary film adaptations of the 1960s show a new, colonial, rural “imaginary” particular to South Korea’s cultural production. On the surface, they appear to register a return to the colonial nativist sensibility. However, they mark a clear shift in focus toward the area of communal interaction and the social dynamics of information sharing. This article attempts to discern and articulate new thematic preoccupations and tendencies as well as their implications to a nationalist view toward the Colonial Period. In addition, it historicizes the cinematic version of nativist aesthetics by relating its development to the larger concern of the cinematic form and the history of colonial representation.

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