Beyond victims and heroes: The 5.18 cinema across gender boundary introduction: The problem of representing historical trauma in cultural productions

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Abstract

This article examines films that deal with the Kwangju uprising (1980) as a way to see how popular art forms such as film have the capability to critique state-led violence of human rights. These films played a central role in elevating the once-provincialized history of the democratization movement to a national one, expanding the meaning and effect of the populist struggle. It reviews the progress of cinematic representation of the uprising as both a cultural site of populist resistance and a source of generating a shared sense of community, while problematizing the gendered representation of the people as victims or heroes in these films in order to uncover the silenced voices and to deconstruct the hegemonic notion of the democratization movement as primarily masculine. The gendered representation of the uprising overlooks women's individual experiences such as the post-traumatic stress disorder caused by sexual violence and social isolation-stories which have been silenced. This article argues that, while the 5.18 cinema produced a strong sense of justice and collectivity among Koreans, we can broaden our understanding of the historical implications of the uprising by being attentive to women's experiences in order to produce a strong sense of moral responsibility that will eventually work toward a fuller reconciliation with the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-95
Number of pages28
JournalKorean Studies
Volume43
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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