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A Position of A Korean Woman-Migrant in the US Racial Struggles ─The Representation of the Los Angles Riots in a Film, Western Avenue (1993) and Kang Soo-yeon’s Image

  • The Journal of Korean drama and theatre
  • 2023, (79), pp.57-87
  • DOI : 10.17938/tjkdat.2023..79.57
  • Publisher : The Learned Society Of Korean Drama And Theatre
  • Research Area : Arts and Kinesiology > Other Arts and Kinesiology
  • Received : July 10, 2023
  • Accepted : August 14, 2023
  • Published : August 31, 2023

Yun-Jong Lee 1

1이화여자대학교 아시아여성학센터

Accredited

ABSTRACT

From his debut as a feature film director in 1985 through the 1990s, Jang Gil-su consistently made films that questioned Korea's relationship with the United States by placing women experiencing identity confusion at the center of their narratives, in pursuit of cultural liberation. The consistent examination of the American dream in Jang's films can be characterized as his auteurist exploration of Americanism. In this study, I would explore the position of a second-generation Korean woman-migrant facing the racial struggle of the United States by focusing on the multi-layered hierarchization brought about by intersections of race, gender, and class. I will analyze Jang’s 1993 film, Western Avenue, which swiftly represented the 1992 LA Riots. To this end, I will examine the studies on the complexity of racial struggle and racialization in American society by critiquing the portrayals in the U.S. media that reduce the LA Riots to a black-Korean conflict. Additionally, I will analyze the female character played by Kang Soo-yeon, a second-generation Korean-American woman in the film. Kang also portrayed the protagonist in the same director's previous film, That Which Falls Has Wings (1990), in which she depicted a woman struggling with her 'cultural identity' between Korea and the U.S. This study also address the figure of victimized women or feminized victims intertwined with racialized Korea-U.S. relations in the frequent narratives of Korean cinema between the 1980s and 1990.

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.