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Criteria and Effects of Censorship in the 1970s Seen through Korean National Policy Films ― Focusing on the Korean Film Promotion Corporation’s The Testimony (1973) ―

  • Journal of Popular Narrative
  • 2022, 28(3), pp.277-315
  • DOI : 10.18856/jpn.2022.28.3.008
  • Publisher : The Association of Popular Narrative
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : September 26, 2022
  • Accepted : October 11, 2022
  • Published : October 30, 2022

PARK Yuhee 1

1고려대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on The Testimony (1973), known as the representative work of Korean Film Promotion Corporation and the successful production of nationalist films, to clarify the criteria and impact of Korean film censorship in the 1970s. Contrary to the preconception that national policy films were not censored, they had to be exemplary films that propagated policies, therefore, they were only to be controlled and interfered with by the government. Of course, National Policy Films had to undergo censorship procedures, and, because the government was the subject of production, the production process itself was a pre-censorship procedure. This is revealed in the fact that there were many traces of alterations in The Testimony’s script and at least two film versions. Accordingly, this paper attempts to trace the production of The Testimony to the box office to reveal the criteria and effects of censorship while revealing the true nature of the film that the government intended to make at the time. Chapter2 examines the context in which Korean Film Promotion Corporation produced its own films in circumstances in which the Yushin Constitution was promulgated and the authoritarian system was further strengthened and rigidified. Thereafter, it reveals reasons why anti-communist historical genre films such as depicted in The Testimony, Wildflowers on the Battleground, and The Taebaek Mountains were a produced. Chapter3 considers the aspect of the widening gap between production intentions and actual production owing to the difference in duplicitous production guidelines, as seen through Wildflowers on the Battleground, which was designed in conjunction however, eventually contrasted with The Testimony. Chapter4 tracks the process of reproducing the design purpose of The Testimony and indicates the rhetorical characteristics formed by it. To this end, it examines the script’s alteration process, and peers into the re-corrected aspects in the film. Thereafter, by reviewing The Testimony’s censorship documents and Korean Film Promotion Corporation’s production documents, it reveals the ambitions of Korean Film Promotion Corporation to create a successful nationalist film. In conclusion, at the highest rank of grandiose production guidelines for nationalistic films in the 1970s, there was anti-communism as an abhorrence of communism. The Testimony was a film that reproduced such extreme anti-communism with a rhythm of cruelty and sublimity and elevated it to a religious ideology. However, unlike generally known success stories, The Testimony was a commercial failure. Since the design legends and production guidelines of The Testimony were also the criteria for censorship, the subject and rhetoric of The Testimony reveal the correlation between censorship and text. In addition, the film, which the government ambitiously produced and utmost supported, and its process of failure attests to the effects on the industry by nationalist film, symbolized by censorship in the 1970s.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.