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Sexual ‘Freedom’ and Fissured Genderization in Post-Korean War Dramas

CHO SEO YOUN 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article attempts to present a new perspective to understand sexuality in the 1950s by analyzing the issue of ‘freedom’ that had multiple implications in the post-war field of discourse. ‘Freedom’ in the post-Korean War field of discourse was generationalized into one as the young generation’s resistance against the older generation. In addition, pleasure-seeking and fetishistic aspects of sexual ‘freedom’ influenced by American pop culture belonged to feminity, which became an object of the work of genderization. And yet, as in post-Korean War dramas, males also appeared as sexual beings in the space on the stage and on the horizon of the body, the structure of gender segregation by binary oppositions, the basic premise of genderization is nullified, which requires attention. Stage space of the post-Korean War dramas usually takes the form of an old decaying house with a heterogenous room filled with American-style audiovisual objects. In A Bridge of Abyss, the room space where a male character has an affair with a female character is an impurity that breaks in the family-house and at the same time a haven that allows them to dream beyond the ‘house-prison.’ In addition, the room space in A Locomotive Living on Petals is assigned to male characters from the beginning, which more powerfully breaks the structure of gender segregation, the base of the work of genderization around sexual ‘freedom.’ In these spaces, male characters mix generationalized ‘freedom’ with gendered ‘freedom’ and justify their goal, a shift in generations sensuously. In the post-Korean War dramas, sexual ‘freedom’ seem to have been visually represented through female bodies. And yet, in fact, male characters, too, appear as sexed bodies. This functions as a visual stimulus that nullifies the work of genderization in which sexual laxity or bodily exhibit belongs to females. A display of the image of the sexed body by young male characters forms a confrontation between the older generation and the young generation, and furthermore, they exhibit a power that criticizes patriarchal dominant discourse through sexual solidarity with female characters. The post-Korean War dramas showed a will to resist against existing systems and values on a sensuous level as well as a discursive level. This was a phenomenon made possible as sexual ‘freedom’ which was gendered as feminine and the youths’ existential ‘freedom’ shared a consciousness of a new generation. When the new generation characters in the post-Korean War dramas that dealt with the issue of ‘freedom’ broke down the structure of genderization by binary oppositions, at last, they could receive a sensuous power to achieve the shift in generations.

Citation status

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