In this paper I reveal the mutual interaction between drama, history, and reality, and analyze the cultural operating principle of “the political.” I achieve this by analyzing the narrative of, and viewer reactions to, the television drama Queen Seondeok, which serves as a prominent example of popular K-drama culture in 21st century Korea. First, I explain that conspiracy theory forms the core of the Queen Seondeok narrative arc, showing how it creates a shared bond of sympathy both with and among the audience in the context of popular disillusionment and resistance to “the political.” Viewing the drama with a critical eye focused on the conspiracies fabricated by the political persons that appear in the show, viewers come to support and sympathize with the conspiracy in the narrative, internalizing it as a lens through which to assess the world. In the process, a paradoxical interaction is revealed. To prove this, I analyze the paradoxical approach adopted by the viewers of the drama: by sympathizing with the narrative the audience recognizes “the political” as a “natural” lens. This stems from the way the drama satirizes and “reenacts” modern and contemporary Korean political history. Finally, I unveil specific mechanisms employed by the characters in Queen Seondeok to disguise their emotions and to win the competitive power game. All these elements together show both the operating principles of cultural politics in the medium of TV drama, and the empowerment inherent in the act of watching.
Beck, Ulrich. 1992 (2006). Wiheom Sahoe [Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity]. Translated by Seong-Chan Hong. Seoul: Sae Mulgyeol.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1994 (1998). Telebijeone daehayeo [On Television (Sur la television)]. Translated by Taek-Su Hyeon. Seoul: Dongmunseon.
Choe, Key-Sook. (1999), “Jaseojeon, jeongi, yeoksa ui kyeonggyewa eonsul ui jeongchihak: Hanjungrok-e gwanhan jeanjeok dokpeop” [The Border of Autobiography, Biography and History and the Politics of Discourse: As One Way of Reading Text]. Yeoseong Iron 1, 122-39.
Demos, E. Viginia. (1977), Exploring Affect: The Selected Writings of Silvan S. Tomkins. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.
Derrida, Jacques., and Bernard Stiegler. (1996) 2002. Ecograpi [Ecography (Échographies de la Télévision: Entretien Filmés)]. Translated by Jae-Hi Kim and Tae-Won Jin. Seoul: Mineumsa.
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus. (1970) 1990. “Midieo iron ui jeyoso” [Various Elements of Media Theory]. In Nyumidieo Yeongsang Mihak [Constituents of a Theory of the Media], edited and translated by Jung-Un Kwon, 165-206. Seoul: Mineumsa.
Fenster, Mark. 1999 (2008). Conspiracy Theories. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press.
Forster, E. M. 1927 (1975). Soseol ui Ihae [Aspect of the Novel]. Translated by Seong-Ho Yi. Seoul: Munye chulpansa.
Furedi, Frank. 2006 (2011). Urineun Woe Gongpoe Pajineunga [Culture of Fear Revisited]. Translated by Hyeong-Sin Park and Hyeong-Jin Park. Seoul: Yihaksa.
Gerbner, G., and L. Gross. (1976), “Living with Television: The Violence of Profile,” Journal of Communication 26, 173-201.
Gregg, Melissa, and J. Seigworth. (2010), The Affect Theory Reader. Durham: Duke University Press.
Hall, John A., and Ralph Schroeder. (2006), An Anatomy of Power. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Huzita, Syozo 藤田省三. (2007), Jeonhyanggui Sasangsajeok Yongu [Study on the History of Dieas of Turn]. Translated by Chong-Gil Choi. Seoul: Nonhyeong.
Hwang, Hye-Jin. 2006 “Kukga/minjok’e daehan yeonghwajeok sangsangryeok gwa jaehyeon: Silmidowa Hanbando reul jungsimeuro” [Cinematic Imagination and Representation of State/Nation: Focusing on Silmido and Hanbando]. Hankuk kontencheu hakheo 6 (11), 56-64. .
Ju, Chang-Yun. (1998), “Telebijeon deurama suyongjaui haeseokjeok wichi” [The Interpretative Positions of the Television Drama Audience]. Hankuk Eonron Hakbo 42 (4), 163-200.
Ju, Chang-Yun. (2007), “Yeoksa dramaui jangreusajeok byeonhwagwajeong” [Generic History of Historical Dramas in Korea: 1964~2005]. Hankukkeukyesul yeongu 25, 369-98.
Kim, Han-Jong. (2011), “Lee Myung-Pak jeongbuui yeoksa insikgwa yeoksa gyoyuk jeongchaek” [Myung-Pak Lee Government’s Historical Awareness and Policies on History Education]. Yeoksa bipyeong 96, 204-42.
Kim, Jin-Taek. (2009), “Sasilgwa heoguui kisangjeoj gwangyewa paereodikeok gwanjeomeseo bon paeksion” [The Faction with the Perspective of Parasitic Relation between Fact and Fiction]. Hankuk eoneo munhwa 38, 5-25.
Kim, Myeong-Hi. (2012), “Drama Seondeokyeowange natanan yeoseongui jagisilhyeon” [A Study on Self-Realization of Women in Queen Seonduck in Terms of Jungian Theory of Individuation]. Dongseo bigyomunhak journal 26, 7-26.
Kim, Su-Jeong. (2010), “Gaeinjuuieseo munjokjuuikkaji: TV sakeuk Seondeokyeowangui sahoemunhwajeok uimireul jungsimeuro” [From Individualism to Nationalism—The Socio-cultural Meanings of TV Historical Drama Queen Seondeok]. Hankukbangsonghakbo 24 (2), 70-109.
Knight, Peter, ed. (2002), Conspiracy Nation. New York: New York University Press.
Lee, Jae-Hyeon. (1999), Hyeondae Sahoeui Saenghwalyangsikgwa Television [Contemporary Life Style and Television]. Seoul: Communication Books.
Levinson, Jerrold. (1990), “Discussion: The Place of Real Emotion in Response to Fiction,” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48 (1), 79-80.
Mann, Michael. (1986), The Sources of Social Power, Volume I: A History from the Beginning to 1976 AD. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Maruyama, Masao 丸山眞男. (1997), Hyeondae Jeonchiui Sasanggwa Haengdong 現代政治の思想と行動 [Thought and Action of Modern Politics]. Translated by Seok-Geun Kim. Seoul: Hangilsa.
McLuhan, Marshall. 1964 (1997). Midieoui Ihae [Understanding the Media: The Extention of Man]. Translated by Cheong-Gyu Park. Seoul: Keomyunikeishionbukseu.
Melley, Timothy. (1999), Empire of Conspiracy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Nakano, Tosio 中野敏男. 2001 (2005). Osuka Hisao and Maruyama Masao 大塚久雄と丸山眞男一動員, 主體, 戰爭責任. Translated by Min-Gyo Seo and Ae-Yeong Jeong. Seoul: Samin.
O, Jong-Hwan. (1998), “Yeonghwa sok-e natanan heogu ui insiknonjeok esonggyeok” [Cognitive Characteristics of the Fiction in a Film]. In Maecheui Cheolhak [Philosophy of Media], edited by Sang-Hwan Kim, 205-36. Seoul: Nanam.
O, Jong-Rok. (2009), “Preface of the First Edition,” In Nonjseng-ruro Ikneun Hakuksa [Reading the Korean History with the Arguments], edited by Yeoksabipyeong pyeonjipwiwonhoe, 7-10. Vol. 1. Seoul: Yeoksabipyeongsa.
Pamuk, Orhan. (2012), Soseolgwa Soseokga [The Naive and The Sentimental Novelist]. Translated by Nan-A Lee. Seoul: Mineumsa.
Park, Myeong-Jin. (2013), “TV yeoksa drama Seondeokyeowange natanan jeongchi tujaenggwa seong jeongcheseong” [A Study on Aspect of a Political Struggle and Gender Identity in TV Historical Drama of Queen Seondeok]. Eomunnonnjip 55, 245-68.
Park, No-Hyeon. (2013), “Yeoksa-dramaui sanghotekstseonggwa anacronusmeul jingsimeeeeeuro” [Television Drama and Historical Imagination—Focusing on Intertextuality & Anachronism of History-drama]. Hankukmunhak yeongu 44, 387-414.
Sin, Won-Seon. (2012), “Paeksion Sageuk Purigipeun Namuui daejunghwa jeonryak [Reading Popular Codes in the Faction Historical Dramas Deeply-rooted Trees]. Inmun yeongu 64, 337-66.
Son, Se-Il, ed. (1976), Hankuk Nonjaengsa [Korean Historical Arguments]. Vol. 5. Seoul: Cheongnam munhwasa.
Todd, Sander, and Harry G. West. (2003), Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in New World Order. Durham: Duke University Press.
White, Hayden. 1973 (2011). Meta Yeoksa [Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe]. Vol. 2. Translated by Hyeong-Gyun Cheon. Seoul: Jisikeul mandeuneun saram.
Williams, Raymond. 1973 (1996). Television ron [Television Technology and Cultural Form]. Translated by Hyo-Suks Park. Seoul: Hyeondae mihaksa.
Williams, Raymond. 1965 (2007). Meonameon Hyeokmyeong [The Long Revolution]. Translated by Eun-Ae Seong. Seoul: Munhak dongne.
Yeoksabipyeong pyeonjipwiwonhoe, ed. (2009), Nonjseng-ruro Ikneun Hnkuksa [Reading the Korean History with the Arguments]. Vol. 2. Seoul: Yeoksabipyeongsa.
Yun, Seok-Jin., Da-Un Yi., and Sang-Wan Park. (2013), “Tivi drama Seondeokyeowanggwa myujiceol Mugunghwaui yeowang bigyo gochal” [A Comparative Study of TV Drama Queen Seondeok and Musical The Rose of Sharon: Focusing on Dramatic Composition]. Hankuk keukyesul yeongu 39, 195-241.
Ahamjeonghaenggyeong 阿含正行俓 [Sutra of the Buddha’s Teaching on Right Deeds].