South Korea in the 1950s was home to a burgeoning film culture, one of the many “Golden Age cinemas” that flourished in Asia during the postwar years. Cold War Cosmopolitanism offers a transnational cultural history of South Korean film style in this period, focusing on the works of Han Hyung-mo, director of the era’s most glamorous and popular women’s pictures, including the blockbuster Madame Freedom (1956). Christina Klein provides a unique approach to the study of film style, illuminating how Han’s films took shape within a “free world” network of aesthetic and material ties created by the legacies of Japanese colonialism, the construction of US military bases, the waging of the cultural Cold War, the forging of regional political alliances, and the import of popular cultures from around the world. Klein combines nuanced readings of Han’s films with careful attention to key issues of modernity—such as feminism, cosmopolitanism, and consumerism—in the first monograph devoted to this major Korean director.
“Christina Klein shines a brilliant klieg light on the still largely unknown South Korean classic films of the 1950s by placing them in a global context of Cold War culture and politics. This is an original and engaging study with broad scholarly and popular appeal.” CARTER J. ECKERT, author of Park Chung Hee and Modern Korea
“Cold War Cosmopolitanism makes a unique contribution to multiple fields. Using Han Hyung-mo’s career and female characters as a springboard, Klein charts the historical and theoretical trajectories of the formation of Cold War cosmopolitanism in 1950s Korea under US hegemony.” HYE SEUNG CHUNG, author of Movie Migrations: Transnational Genre Flows and South Korean Cinema
“This book belongs on the bookshelf of everyone interested in the Cold War culture of Asia.” POSHEK FU, author of Between Shanghai and Hong Kong: The Politics of Chinese Cinemas
CHRISTINA KLEIN is Associate Professor of English and Director of American Studies at Boston College.
Klein, C. 2020. Cold War Cosmopolitanism: Period Style in 1950s Korean Cinema. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.85
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