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What Makes Privations Endurable?―Jeo Haneuredo Seulpeumi(1965) and Cultural Politics of Representation of Poverty

  • The Journal of Korean drama and theatre
  • 2018, (60), pp.47-80
  • DOI : 10.17938/tjkdat.2018..60.47
  • Publisher : The Learned Society Of Korean Drama And Theatre
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Received : May 10, 2018
  • Accepted : May 28, 2018

Hwajin Lee 1

1연세대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The cultural representation of poverty was a sensitive issue under the Park Chunghee administration, which was launched under the slogan of ‘overcoming poverty.’ The expansion of the South Korean film industry brought out the diversification of material issues, and therefore the films based on children’s writings and actual events touched off a boom in the mid-1960s. Those films, through contemporary journalism, could show the reality of poverty and have some political effects. However, the films based on true stories of pauperism have mainly focused on children’s problems in poor environments, appealing to people’s moral emotions such as pity, sympathy and guilt, rather than sober criticism of reality. Those films have some narrative patterns for avoiding the conflict with ruling ideology. In particular, they accentuated the scene that the media, such as publishing, news journalism and broadcasting, mediated the actual events and their sensations, and displayed moral emotions and charity practices of the petit bourgeois who were sympathetic to the plight of the poor. Through showing the formation process of sympathetic and compassionate community, mass media could carry out the social management of the representation of poverty by making privations endurable. In a situation where political tensions over the ratification of the Korea-Japan agreement and the dispatch of troops to the Vietnam War were maximized, the films based on true stories of pauperism had the effect of blurring the nation’s inability to fundamentally solve the problem of poverty. This paper examines the political implications and limitations of the representation of poverty in the films based on true stories of pauperism in the mid-1960s, focusing the film Jeo Haneuredo Seulpeumi(Sorrow Even Up in Heaven, 1965).

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