ISSN : 0023-3900
This article presents a critical overview on how musical elements of The Rose of Sharon (Mugunghwa dongsan) were aligned with its political messages for building the Korean nation-state during the post-colonial period. The film was first presented to the public at the March First Movement memorial event for the newly established state in the southern part of Korea, the Republic of Korea. Recommended by the United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK), the film was used as a nation-building publicity film providing a blueprint for the ideal Korean community: ethnic Koreans living in Hawai‘i. Musical elements of the film were indicative of two prominent features for the Korean nation-state: transnational Korean community sharing the same culture and a pro-American society appreciating Western/American culture. The former was presented through ethnic Koreans’ appreciation of Korea’s traditional song and dance, while the latter was exemplified by their performance of hymns, operatic song, and hula. The musical elements in The Rose of Sharon were in line with music-related cultural policies of the nascent ROK government established under American hegemony.