Abstract

As the most popular genre of South Korean cinema of the 1980s, erotic film not only played a breakthrough role after the national film industry’s catastrophic decline since the early 1970s but also seemed to conform to the totalitarian state’s cultural policy of promoting the “3Ss” (screen, sex, and sport) that served to control the minjung (people) in the 1980s. The erotic filmmakers’ seemingly conforming strategy has long caused South Korean film critics and historians to indiscriminately detract from the film genre by pejoratively tagging it “ero film” and to be prejudiced against its lack of artistic and ideological value. However, ironically, some of its subgenre films, particularly nationalist ero films, overflow with minjung nationalist ideology equipped with anti-Westernization and anti-Americanism. Resorting to the spectacularization of Korean woman’s body as the Korean peninsula and of male sexual assault of her body as symbolic of the colonization of South Korea, nationalist ero film interrogates the modernity and geopolitics of the nation. Yet, this article attempts to complicate and problematize the nationalist efforts of the sub-genre in the transnational feminist perspective by textually analyzing Murǔp kwa murǔp sai (Between the knees, 1984) and Kip ko p’urǔn pam (Deep blue night, 1984) to show how patriarchal the minjung nationalist ideology is and how this leftist thought paradoxically mirrors the oppressive regime’s political agenda.

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