Korean Cinema and Visual Culture

Korea University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Korean Cinema and Visual Culture

  • Host University

    Korea University

  • Location

    Seoul, South Korea

  • Area of Study

    Asian Studies, Film Studies, Visual Arts

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This course will provide a broad background to classic and contemporary Korean cinema from a variety of perspectives: cultural, economic, political, historical, social. 

    Topics to be considered will include: how the major political and social changes that have taken place in Korea in recent decades have been reflected in local films;  transformations in the structure of the Korean film industry over the past 15 years;  Korean cinema's increasing participation in cultural trends in Asia and the broader world;  the changing relationship between the local film industry and the Korean government; major internationally-renowned directors and their individual styles; and the development of certain genres within Korean cinema.

    Each class will last approximately 100 minutes, and will include lectures, film viewing and student discussion. Four feature films will be shown in their entirety, in addition to selected scenes from other important works. All films will be screened with English subtitles.

    Required Texts

    * New Korean Cinema: Breaking the Waves by Darcy Paquet (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).

    The easiest and cheapest way to buy the textbook is to download the e-book through the Kindle, Nook or iTunes stores. Or you can buy a paperback copy on your own, before the start of the class. I also may have some paperback copies which I can sell to students in class for 20,000 won.

    * Course Reader:  More information about acquiring the course reader will be provided in class.

    - Excerpt on mise-en-scene from Timothy J. Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing About Film (New York: Pearson Longman, 2007), 48-57.

    - Michael Robinson, "Contemporary Cultural Production in South Korea," in New Korean Cinema, eds Chi-Yun Shin and Julian Stringer (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005), 15-31.

    - Saito Ayako, “Note on Im Kwon-taek,” in Fly High, Run Far: The Making of Korean Master Im Kwon-taek (Busan: Busan International Film Festival, 2013), 91-107.

    -Jinhee Choi, “Not Just Metteurs-en-Scene?” in The South Korean Film Renaissance: Local Hitmakers, Global Provocateurs (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2010), 144-163.

    -David Bordwell, "Beyond Asian Minimalism: Hong Sangsoo's Geometry Lesson," in Korean Film Directors Series: Hong Sang-soo, ed. Huh Moonyung (Seoul: Korean Film Council, 2007), 19-30.

    Recommended reading and viewing:

    -- In May 2012, the Korean Film Archive launched a YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/koreanfilm with 100+ subtitled classic films that you can watch for free (click on the ‘cc’ button to get the subtitles). The Korean Film Archive’s building in the Digital Media City (Sangam-dong), Seoul is also a great place to visit, with a film museum, a cinematheque, and a multimedia library where you can watch many films. Their website is at http://www.koreafilm.org

    -- If you would like to learn more about film studies and the aesthetics of cinema, I can recommend the following two books as a starting point (although there are many other options):

        * Film Art: An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson is a classic introductory text in film studies, that is strongly focused on aesthetics.

       * Film: A Critical Introduction by Maria T. Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis teaches students how to analyze and critique films, in addition to providing an introduction to aesthetics.

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.