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Korean Cinema: A Critical Filmography

edited by Frances Gateward (Canisius College) and Robert Cagle (University of Illinois)

In 1999, Shiri became the most successful film in the history of South Korean cinema, out-grossing not only every Korean film but Hollywood's transnational blockbusters as well. Indeed, the film is as slick and thrilling as any American action spectacular. While film specialists were well aware of the incisive films of Korea's premier director, Im Kwon-taek, and art-festival entries such as The Day a Pig Fell into the Well and Green Fish, Shiri broke into the worldwide box-office. At home, Shiri ushered in a renaissance of commercially viable, artistically acclaimed Korean films and launched Korea onto the global stage. Just two years after its production, Korean films at home had achieved box-office dominance and worldwide appeal. But Shiri did not emerge from a vacuum, either culturally or cinematically.

Bringing together the most renowned scholars in Asian cinema, Korean Cinema: A Critical Filmography sheds light on the history, culture and major directors behind South Korean cinema’s status as perhaps the most dynamic national cinema today while also introducing readers to the sparse film output of the North. This first English-language filmography of Korean cinema spans the entire history of Korean film, from the silent films produced under Japanese rule to the classic melodramas of the Golden Age, from the New Wave of the 1980s to the provocative and powerful award-winning masterpieces of New Korean cinema and the popular genre films at the forefront of hallyu, the name given to Korean popular culture’s sudden presence in Asian and world markets.

Frances Gateward, a recipient of the KOFIC (Korean Film Commission) Overseas Research Grant, teaches film courses in the Department of Communications and Media Studies at Ursinus College. She has also published more than a dozen articles and book chapters and is the editor or co-editor of four books including Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice: Cinemas of Girlhood (Wayne State University Press, 2002), Where the Boys Are: Cinemas of Masculinity and Youth (2005), and Seoul Searching: Culture and Identity in Contemporary Korean Cinema (SUNY, 2007). Her research includes American cinema and popular culture, Korean film, African American film and youth subcultures.