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Korean Screen Cultures

Interrogating Cinema, TV, Music and Online Games

Andrew David Jackson and Colette Balmain

The «Korean Wave», or Hallyu phenomenon, has brought South Korean popular culture to the global population. Studies on Korean visual culture have therefore often focused on this aspect, leaving North Korea sidelined and often considered in a negative light because of its political regime. Korean Screen Cultures sets out to redress this imbalance with a broad selection of essays spanning both North and South as well as different methodological approaches, from ethnographic and audience studies to cultural materialist readings. The first section of the book, «The South», highlights popular media – including online gaming and television drama – and concentrates on the margins, in which the very nature of «The South» is contested. «The South and the North» examines North Korea as an ideological other in South Korean popular culture as well as discussing North Korean cinema itself. «The Global» offers new approaches to Korean popular culture beyond national borders and includes work on K-pop and Korean television drama. This book is a vital addition to existing scholarship on Korean popular culture, offering a unique view by providing an imaginary unification of the two Koreas negotiated through local and transnational popular culture flows.
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Marion Schulze - 14 Inappropriate Desire and Heterosexuality Negotiated: The Case of Women K-Drama Watchers


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14 Inappropriate Desire and Heterosexuality Negotiated: The Case of Women K-Drama Watchers


Heterosexuality is usually understood as the unspoken, undeniable gendered norm in post-industrialised societies. But despite the fact that only certain ways of doing heterosexuality are intelligible, this norm is often presented as homogenous and non-negotiable. While we know much about the diversity of ‘divergent’ sexualities, thanks to Queer Studies, heterosexuality – especially how it is lived, performed and negotiated in everyday life – is still paradoxically somewhat of a black box in contemporary research.1 To shed some light on it, a study of the reception of South Korean television series, K-dramas – and especially its main subgenre, romances – by international female fans as expressed on blogs and message boards proves to be a highly heuristic sociological laboratory. International female fans recurrently relate watching K-dramas to their own heterosexual desires, discussing and negotiating their desires and different ways of being heterosexual. In doing so, beliefs they hold on heterosexuality and the heterosexual norm sets to which they pertain also become discernible, especially when transgressed by international fans. Hence, the analysis of K-drama watchers’ online statements helps to better understand workings of heterosexuality and its institutionalised facets that play out in everyday ← 293 | 294 → situations like online exchanges. This doesn’t mean that non-heterosexual desire cannot inform watching K-dramas, or that heterosexual desire can also be questioned and put to the test through watching them. However, my concern in this chapter is...

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