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Globalization, Subtitling, and the Curb-cut - The Problem of Access to Foreign Films on Korean Television in the 1990s

  • Journal of Popular Narrative
  • 2024, 30(1), pp.213-242
  • DOI : 10.18856/jpn.2024.30.1.007
  • Publisher : The Association of Popular Narrative
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Interdisciplinary Research
  • Received : January 12, 2024
  • Accepted : February 9, 2024
  • Published : February 28, 2024

Hwajin Lee 1

1조선대학교 인문학연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article examines the controversy surrounding the subtitling of foreign films on Korean television in 1994 to explore the ways in which the issue of access to television has been discussed in relation to the public nature of broadcasting. The ‘subtitling vs. dubbing’ controversy that erupted in 1994 when Munhwa Broadcasting Coporation (MBC) aired the weekend series Beverly Hills 90210 and Weekend Masterpiece (once a month) in subtitles without dubbing the korean voice actors, was an event that brought together the changes in the media environment since the late 1980s, the opening up of broadcasting, and the issues of globalization in the neoliberal era. The debate over the subtitling of foreign films not only opened up a discussion on the social function of television as a ‘window to culture’, but also cracked the notion of a ‘universal audience’ and made the issue of access visible. Discussions about how different classes, ages, literacy levels, and disabilities relate to media accessibility were only just beginning to be discursed in Korean visual culture. The problem of access to television, as discursed through the subtitling vs. dubbing debate, may have ‘hijacked’ the idea of a curb-cut effect that could be more inclusive of people with and without disabilities, but it also confirmed that no form of access can equitably mediate media for ‘all’. Recognizing that the problem of access is never complete, it is an ongoing process of practice that requires the commitment of time, energy, and resources.

Citation status

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

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.