LK283 Modern Korean Culture through Cinema

Class Objective

This course is an introductory course on modern Korean culture and society from the Korean War (1950-1953) to the present. Two films portraying traditional Korean society will also be shown to provide deeper understanding of pre-modern Korea. The screening of one film each week will be followed by discussion and analysis during the regular class meeting. Through the course, students will learn socio-cultural aspects and value systems of modern Korea. Students will also observe how the global changes in the 1970s and 1980s influenced Koreans¡¯ lives, consider Korean social issues of the 21st century, and briefly review the development of the contemporary Korean cinema industry.

* The selected films are shown every Monday 5-7pm and the additional screening is available on student's request at the Geddes Center. The film viewing is mandatory for the course. Students may need to view a film twice or more for the assignments.
** Knowledge of Korean is not required for this course. All reading material is in English.
*** The films will be presented with English subtitles.

Grading Policy

  1. Class participation and attendance (10%)
  2. Reaction sheet (15%)
  3. Essays (20%)
  4. Midterm (25%)
  5. Final (30%)


Hyangjin Lee (2000), Contemporary Korean Cinema: Identity, Culture, and Politics. Manchester University Press.

Eungjun Min, et al (2003) Korean Film: History, Resistance, and Democratic Imagination. Praeger Publishers.

Other readings are specified and provided in class.


Main Topics for Semester

  • Korean War and 1950s Korea
  • Post-War Classics
  • Traditional Korean Society: Chosun Dynasty 18C-19C
  • Women in Korean Films
  • Korean Gangster-Comedy Fusion
  • Korean Drama in the 1960s
  • Labor movement in the 1970s
  • Buddhism and Korean religions
  • Korean School Culture