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Girlhood and Horror S.Korean Cinema

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Kate Taylor-Jones

on 23 November 2017

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Transcript of Girlhood and Horror S.Korean Cinema

The horror of Girlhood in South Korean Cinema

What is girlhood?
there is a “current proliferation of images and narratives of girls and girlhood in popular culture.” (Gonick, Renold, Ringrose and Weems)

“since approximately 1990, girls have appeared often and everywhere in U.S. media culture.” (Projansky)

“a new figure has appeared in this already feminized, privatized, suburbanized and sexualized landscape; the figure of the young girl.” He considers that girls are “up to their ankles, if not their necks, in public signification, becoming objects of public policy, public debate, the public gaze.” (Hartley)
Real girls lives
Reel girls lives

Girls culture - media, literature, fashion, music etc.

Girlhood is both a container of
anxiety AND progress

For example cultural and social fears on sex, pregnancy, drugs, consumerism, princess culture, safety etc.
the site of promotion of an active, productive and successful life (Girl power etc.)
Girlhood in South Korea
Not a new thing!

Modern girl and Shojo culture established in Meiji Japan and spread into her territories including Korea.

Encouraged by spread of girls education, literacy and new modes of expression.

Hence, girlhood becomes marked as 'other' to Korean Natiohood by virtue of being both modern and colonial.

"even the issue of how “old” a girl is—previously a fairly simplistic categorisation of females between the ages of approximately 12 and 20—has been complicated by both the “tweenies” phenomenon and the “Girlie” movement, which together girlify 7 year olds in midriff tops and 40 year olds with “Hello Kitty” barrettes " (Sue Harris)
The modern girl offered a new version of Korean womahood that
allowed women the option of education and entering the workplace BUT she was highly ambivalent.

Marked by concerns about female behavior and the modern girl as undermining traditional family working structures.

Writer Kim Ki-rin in the 1920s defined the modern girl as
'a consumerist vampire, a dammed creature'

So she is both positive and negative and this tension continues to define the girl in the South Korean context.

Girlhood and horror
Girls as media producers and consumers
limited women making films in East Asia as a broad region.

South Korea has a very limited list and only since the 1990s have women really emerged as filmakers who are making more than 1 feature film.

Mostly work in documentary (Byun Young-joo, Yang Yon-hi) and shorts but some have began to make features (Yim Soon-rye, Park Chan-ok, Jeong Jae-eun and July Jung)
Anglo-American film approaches:
the final-girl
Female screaming victim
Women/girls marked by sexuality
Korean supernatural mythology comes from the word seolhwa meaning ‘tales’
Three types:
shinhwa meaning myth
cheonseol meaning legend
mindam meaning folklore.
( ‘shin’ literally referring to spirits ghosts and monsters)
Cheonyeo Gwishin means virgin girl ghost - linked back to old Confucian ideas about women's role to serve the men in her life (father, brother, husband, village etc). If this was denied she was dammed and then on death with walk the earth bitter causing issues for people. She could be pacified by ghost husband in some cases.
Haesindang Park in Samcheok
Nine Tailed Fox” ghost Kumiho/Gumiho.
change into a beautiful women and lures men and eat their livers.
Slit-mouthed woman - spread from Japan. Warning to be faithful (and not vain?
sesame seeds in the bath
Yuurei - heart of Japanese horror. Yuurei are ghosts or spirits that have been stranded on this world because they have some unfinished business or because they died while in the throes of intense emotion. Yuurei have a singular purpose or mission, and they are very often malicious. A person who becomes a ghost is said to forget everything else about their life and focus only on that which is preventing them from resting.

The underlying concept behind Japanese yuurei is onnen, the idea that some emotions are so strong that their power can extend from beyond the grave.

Almost all classic and contemporary ghost stories from Japan operate on onnen: in addition to the obvious case of Okiku. IN films Sadako’s character in The Ring and the antagonist in Ju-on are ideal examples.

Onnen is the central concept behind yuurei, and as we will see, it differentiates Japanese horror from works in the West pretty dramatically.
You need to break down and create
8 questions about the article that you feel would allow you to understand her argument.
Girls are a masssive media market and series's such as Wispering Corridor are both aimed at them and about them.
Conclusion: we have looked at horror but female representation in Korean cinema more broadly is poor.
Whilst horror is not ideal in terms of representation - it does offer some more challenging female role models (if murderous).
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