The Visual Culture of Haunting in Post Colonial Korea

Park, Soyang. 2004. The Visual Culture of Haunting in Post Colonial Korea. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

My thesis explores the history and psychology of the Minjoong (grassroots) Realist Art and Culture Movement which emerged during the democratisation period in South Korea in the 1980s and early 1990s. Following territorial decolonization and 35 years of rapid industrialisation led by the military dictatorial regime, the 1980s and the 1990s marked a time of insurgence of popular antagonism against the regime and the dominant norms of society which had repressed the expressions of the grassroots people in the society. I examine how the emergent culture -a 'visual culture of haunting' - is instigated and formed by numerous haunted subjects and the return of repressed memories. This culture is marked by works of Lim Oksang and Oh Yoon who materialised the ghosts of the minjoong, who had long been repressed by "silencing structure" and "culture of forgetting" of Korean society. They actively dealt with the personal and historical trauma and haunting imagination of a future as part of the incorporation process of the internal images of "the Real". The 'Real' translates the irreducible core of memory and imagination of the minjoong which has previously unrepresented. I also explore how the repressed and silenced "subaltern" groups in Korean modem history, especially the former sexual slave women, have gradually come into the historical light providing their testimonies in this emergent cultural and political milieu. I point out the significant role of feminist intellectuals and artists who are committed to the resolution of the women's issues. For instance, their repressed voices are facilitated, reactualised and materialised through an art therapy workshop set up by a young artist, Lee Kyungsin, and documentary-making set up by the young film maker Byun Youngjoo. The paintings of former sexual slavery victims, Kang Dukkyung and Kim Sukduk, as well as Byun's documentaries, Nazen Mosori I and 2, witness the innermost voices and life performances of these women, who were previously constrained by their own personalised shame and the negativity of Han (long repressed grievance).

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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Minjoong (grassroots), Lim Oksang, Oh Yoon, Nazen Mosori, repressed memories

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Date Deposited:

11 Jun 2020 12:14

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:36


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