Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, films based on the colonial period have consistently been produced due to two forces generated in the latter half of the ’90s. One is the flow within the humanities to reconstitute the colonial period with a perspective of cultural modernization spreading out to mass culture, and the other comes from the tendency to creatively narrate the national trauma that was evoked by the IMF crisis in Hollywood-style big-budget action blockbuster films. This paper considers the male hero of a colonized Korea in three different ways: as the de-ideologized hero who shares victimhood with the male hero of the Japanese empire in a buddy-double relationship, as an independence activist caricatured anachronistically for rigidly adhering to ideology, and as a superhero who becomes the imaginative winner through the grammar of genre films. In post-authoritarian Korea, where de-ideologization and survivalism is prevalent while the incomplete task of decolonization is still at hand, these characters are meaningful as still-advancing figures in a state of potentiality, which reflect the public sentiment that recalls the colonial period with an ambivalence that includes both visual pleasure and historical indebtedness.
This paper examines the emergence and on-/offline reception of the webtoon 26 Years (2006) created by South Korean manhwa-ga Kang Full. Presenting itself as faction (factual fiction), 26 Years deals with the aftermath of the 1980 Gwangju Uprising. The webtoon envisions a radical fictional response to this contested and traumatic event in contemporary South Korean history through the planned and attempted assassination, in 2006, of former President Chun Doo Hwan by a group of victims of the uprising. Central questions raised by 26 Years and its reception include how the politicized webtoon as a pop culture phenomenon is related to the appearance of new forms of protest within social movements and how manhwa artists exercise agency in this context. By addressing these questions, the current paper presents a close reading of Kang Full’s webtoon, with a focus on his faction approach to the Gwangju Uprising and the particular affordances of the webtoon, its temporal dynamics, interactivity and employment of metalepsis.
This interview took place in the No. 2 Humanities Department Conference Room on the third floor of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Korea, from 1:50 to 3:40 p.m. on November 5, 2012. The discussion of Dr. Cho’s scholarship focuses on his major writings and is organized thematically according to distinct trends in his scholarship. The primary goal was to inquire into Dr. Cho’s scholarship and its significance through a general overview of his work, and an effort was made to avoid detailed discussion on particular areas. The interview was conducted in Korean and is organized as a series of questions by Kim Heon-seon and answers by Cho Dong-il. Dr. Cho, who is 73 this year, was clearer and sharper than ever, although his manner of speaking has grown gentler and he seemed to have arrived at a place where his scholarship has fully ripened.