Chuno is a TV historical drama broadcast by KBS in 2010. The drama, set in the 17th century, brings slaves and ‘slave hunters’ into foreground as its title means ‘chasing after the fugitive slaves.’ Chuno enjoyed high popularity to which several factors contributed including suggestive sexual exploitation, consumable masculinity, and spectacular and stylish action often with intertextual references. However, the most important thing is that the main mood of Chuno is characterized by mobility defining the logic and experiences of capitalist modernity, which allows us to regard the drama Chuno as a historical imagination of a neo-liberal society in the age of globalization. The fact that Chuno is dominated by mobility is more remarkable in its genre context in that the general mood of Korean TV historical dramas have been static despite several new trends in the 2000s. As a historical imagination of a neo-liberal society, Chuno establishes a strong analogy between slavery society of the late Joseon and neo-liberal society of South Korea with the slaves reminding us of non-regular workers and debtors. The political imagination of Chuno tells a story about the dream for reform and its frustration through the motif of Crown Prince Sohyeon, but its politics goes one step further to tell a story about the dream for democracy and its frustration in the age of neo-liberalism through the hopes and stories of the lowliest people.
This paper examines the TV series Tamra, the Island (2009), focusing on the desire to restart modernization and the ambivalence toward globalization, both of which are involved in the post-colonial imagination of modernization in South Korea. The TV series Tamra, the Island, which aired on MBC in the summer of 2009, is set in 17th century Joseon under King Injo—a period favored by other recent television dramas as well. This paper also explores why this setting, where the confrontation between King Injo and Gwanghaegun/Prince Sohyeon is foregrounded, is significant to recent Korean period dramas while considering its relevancy to post-colonial trauma and globalization. Also discussed are the issues of how Tamra Island (now Jeju Island) has become an internally colonized utopia at the cul-de-sac of the predestined failure in restarting modernization and the ambivalence between embracing global capital and reinforcing national confinement in this TV series.
Because they combine the two contradictory spheres called history and drama, the potential for debate is inherent in the historical dramas aired on TV. This study divides the fictionalization process through which a historical fact is rewritten as a drama into three tasks: ‘filling in spaces,’ ‘omission of historical facts,’ and the ‘modification of historical facts.’ The task of ‘filling in the spaces’ refers to the filling in of the empty spaces inherent in historical records with stories created based on the imagination of the writer. The ‘omission of historical facts’ refers to the act of omitting events and characters recorded in historical documents from a drama. The ‘modification of historical facts’ revolves around the changing of the temporal order, roles of characters, and relationship between facts in a manner that departs from what is found in the historical records. The plot is then used to comprehensively reorganize these three fictionalization methods. The analysis of Queen Seondeok based on these four factors revealed that this drama in fact incorporates complex and conflicting elements. Various events occur within the basic narrative structure that revolves around the conflict between Deokman, who represents the royal authority, and Misil, who stands as the symbol of the aristocracy. The drama exhibits a combination of two different plots: comedy and tragedy. The story of how Deokman is abandoned by the royal family only to return to Silla and ascend to the throne after having overcome Misil constitutes the ascending plot (of comedy). However, Deokman’s choice of the great causes of establishing the royal authority and unifying the three kingdoms actually pushes her to pursue austere discipline in her personal life. This helps to create the atmosphere of anguish and loss found in descending (tragic) plots. In turn, paradigmatic elements are established through a combination of reality and the ideal. As a result, the drama Queen Seondeok features the amalgamation of the small anguished modern ego and the ancient hero who pursues a big dream. To this end, the formulation of the past found in the historical drama Queen Seondeok can be regarded as an imaginary memory that reflects the desires of modern people.
This paper examines how many Japanese women interpret the historical and cultural texts in Korean television drama Daejanggeum by relating them to their contemporary desires, expectations and aspirations. Based on ethnographic data gathered from more than 50 months of fieldwork in Japan and South Korea, this study contends that the specific historicity and cultural contexts of popular television programs do not matter as much as what Japanese women make of their transnational media consumption, and how it can evoke self-reflexivity and offer new possibilities for viewers to transcend and transform their social realities in ways that project them as contemporary subjects. This study extends existing scholarship on the Korean Wave by exploring the specific and diverse the ways in which Japanese women watch television in an active, engaged and critical manner with the aim of constructing their self-identities as contemporary subjects.
Extramarital love affair has been one of the most controversial topics for Korean TV dramas for a long time. But the family system of Korean society Confucian values seems to be shaken to the core knowing that most viewers consider family is the most fundamental unit of this society and its problem directly translates to societal problems. In his book Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, Engels said, “If the marriage based on the love is moral, the marriage is moral only while the love is maintained.” (Engels 1972:94). It may be just a romantic view which did not fully grasp the complex relationship between the reality and the morality of ‘the Symbolic’, but its ethical implications cannot be denied. To be a family accompanies the glory and the misery at the same time. In Kafka’s Transformation, Gregor Samsa, the main character, was changed to an ugly bug and Kafka has shown that a human being is to remain alone. And this radical solitude can only be filled by “nothing.” The world is ‘the other’ and given as ‘heteronomy.’ In fact, Sartre said that to be born in the world of others is the radical sin. Romantic relationship between man and woman is an event that clearly shows human beings are social animals, and this concept manifests in and through radical heteronomy. In discussing this topic, one Korean author, Gwon Jiye, whose novels dealing with aforementioned concepts with her interpretations of extramarital love affair has provided a unique perspective on the current view of family system Korean society is facing.