Irhe Sohn Abstract

Writing Cinema History: Im Hwa’s 'A Little History of the Development of Korean Cinema' (1941')

Irhe Sohn
PhD student, Asian Languages and Cultures
2011-2012 KF Fellow

This presentation examines Im Hwa’s short essay on Korean film history titled “A Little History of the Development of Korean Cinema” (Chosŏn yŏnghwa paltal sosa). Written in 1941, “A Little History” not simply attempted to recapitulate Korean cinema’s forty-year history, but rather aimed at the urgent intervention into the cultural and political currents of the 1930s through 1940s. In January 1940, the Colonial Government of Korea promulgated the Ordinate of Korean Film (Chosŏn Yŏnghwa-ryŏng/Chōsen eiga rei) that involved establishing government-controlled film companies. Since the Korean film world had been suffering from the lack of facilities and equipment and the financial insecurity in film production, many Korean filmmakers considered the government-controlled film company promised by the Ordinate as an opportunity to finally build a stable ground for Korean film production. For Im Hwa, however, it was much more urgent to recondition and remap the given situation to envision a different path for Korean cinema within the Japanese empire than simply to just respond passively to colonial policies. Analyzing Im Hwa’s historiographical mode during the late colonial period of Korea, this presentation will explore the extent to which the writing of national cinema is tied to the historical context in which it is produced.

This event is co-sponsored by the Korean Foundation, Academy of Korean Studies.