Professor, East Asian Studies
School of Humanities
Professor, Visual Studies
School of Humanities
Ph.D., USC, 1998, Cinema Studies
University of California, Irvine
Mail Code: 6000
Irvine, CA 92697
east asian cinema, modern Korea, critical theory
I have published two single-author books on Korean cinema, three co-edited volumes on Korean popular culture and Asian cinema, and a Korean-language novel. I am currently completing my third book monograph called Hegemonic Mimicry: Korean Popular Culture of the 21st Century contracted with Duke University Press.
My second book project, Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era (fall 2011, Duke University Press),reflects on the precariousness of Korean cinema’s success over the past decade. Arguing that state film policies and socioeconomic factors cannot fully explain cinema’s true potentiality, The book draws on Deleuze’s concept of the virtual, according to which past and present and truth and falsehood co-exist, to analyze the temporal anxieties and cinematic ironies embedded in screen figures such as a made-in-the USA aquatic monster (The Host), a postmodern Chosun-era wizard (Woochi), a schizo man-child (Oasis), a weepy North Korean terrorist (Typhoon), a salary man-turned-vengeful fighting machine (Oldboy), and a sick nationalist (repatriated colonial-era Spring of Korean Peninsula). It maintains that the full significance of hallyu can only be understood by exposing the implicit and explicit ideologies of protonationalism and capitalism that, along with Korea’s ambiguous post-democratization and neoliberalism, are etched against the celluloid surfaces.
My first book, The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema, published by Duke University Press in 2004, contends that the cinema emerging from South Korea during the 1990s strongly re-identified with the desire for “dominant men.” Through a close analysis of the many films from the 1980s and the 1990s that are fraught with male anxiety, the book argued for the need to imagine a salient manhood that defies the contradictions of sexual repression, and that instead projects a struggle between dueling traditional vs. modern, traumatic vs. post-traumatic, and Imaginary vs. Symbolic identities. The male violence that is ubiquitous in many Korean films symptomized Korea’s then-ongoing struggle with its quest for modernity and a post-authoritarian identity.
From fall 2004 to fall 2007, I served as the Director of the Film and Video Center (FVC), where weekly, on-campus film screenings and discussions with film directors are held. I curated many film series and retrospectives for the FVC, including a Japanese Documentary Film Series (fall 2004-5), “Tell Me That You Love Me: the Films of Hong Sangsoo,” which was co-hosted by the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and two major Korean film festivals (one in 1998 and another in 2005), and Contemporary American Indie Film Series (fall 07). I have organized three major academic conferences, two on Korean cinema (1998 and 2002), and another one on Asian cinema in 1999. The papers from the 1999 conference were published as a special volume (co-edited with Esther Yau) of positions: east asia cultures critique (Fall 2001) called Asia/Pacific Cinemas: a Spectral Surface. Since fall '03, I have also co-organized workshops, graduate student conferences, and lectures sponsored by participated the Asian Film and Media Studies group on campus.
I co-produced with Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation and Korean Film Archive the restoration of a Korean classic film from 1960 The Housemaid , which premiered at 2008 Cannes Film Festival. I have also served as a consultant on a Korean film retrospective held at the Harvard Film Archive in Spring 2005, a major Korean film retrospective held at the Smithsonian Institute Freer Gallery in Washington DC in October 2004, a graduate student conference on Korean cinema held at UC Irvine in March 2005, and a film series of Lee Chang-dong’s work held at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles in January 2003.
I am particularly proud of my continued dedication to writing creative fiction, reviews and articles in both Korean and English. The Korean-language articles have mostly appeared in (now sadly defunct) and Cine 21. I have contributed articles to the academic quarterlies such as Munhak Dongne (Literary Community) and Tangdae Pip'yong (Contemporary Criticism). I have written also for Film Quarterly and Film Comment, both film journals in the U.S. My articles have been translated and published in Chinese, French, and Italian.
I have also published in 2014 a Korean language novel, In Search of Lost G, that depicts a plight of a parachute kids placed in a boarding school and a Korean tiger mom trying to save her son from getting expelled from a Massachusetts high school.
I am now working on a new book manuscript called Hegemonic Mimicry: Korean Popular Culture of the 21st Century .
· In Search of Lost G (fall 2014, A Korean-language novel, Seoul Selection)
· Editor with Youngmin Choe, The Korean Popular Culture Reader (spring 2013, Duke University Press)
· Virtual Hallyu: Korean Cinema of the Global Era (fall 2011, Duke University Press)
· The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema (spring 2004, Duke University Press)
· Editor with Esther Yau, positions: east asia cultures critique special volume on Asia/Pacific Cinemas vol. 9 no. 2 (fall 2001)
· Editor with David E. James, Im Kwon-Taek: the Making of a Korean National Cinema (Wayne State University Press: 2001) (also translated into Korean by Hanul in 2005)
· "The Works of Hong Sangsoo," New Korean Cinema. Eds. Julian Stringer and Chi-Yun Shin. Edinburgh University Press, 2005
· "Lethal Work: Domestic Space and Gender Troubles in Happy End (1999) and The Housemaid (1960)," in Eds. Kathleen McHugh and Nancy Abelmann, South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema (Wayne State University Press, 2005)
· "Korean Cinema Manifesto," Film Comment Vol. 40, no. 6 (Nov/Dec 2004).
· "Post-Trauma and Historical Remembrance in the Recent South Korean Cinema: Reading Park Kwang-su's A Single Spark and Chang Son-u's A Petal" in Cinema Journal 41, no. 4 (University of Texas Press, summer 2002)
· "Male Crisis in New Korean Cinema: Reading the Early Films of Park Kwang-su" in positions vol. 9 no. 2 (Duke University Press, fall 2001)
· East Asian 260 (Visual Studies 220), East Asian Cinema and Theoretical topics
· HUM 270: Deleuze and Cinema