Jager & Kim

Jager & Kim - GOOD BROTHERS, MODEL SOLDIERS: SOUTH...

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Unformatted text preview: GOOD BROTHERS, MODEL SOLDIERS: SOUTH KOREA’S BLOCKBUSTER WAR FILMS IN THE POST-KOREAN WAR ERA SHEILA MIvOSHI JAGER J IrLIL KIM‘ t the risk of over simplification we ofier Athe following contextualiaation of this paper in relation to the papers by Eu— gene Park and Seung—soolt Moon regarding the general issue of relations between South Korean society and the military. Park posits a greater nar— rowing Of the historically based society-military gap due to a greater recognition in contemporary South Korea of the people’s obligation to con- tribute to the security of the nation-state. On the other hand, Moon observes that the gap will re— main significant due to the shortcomings and by- pocrisy of the top—down constructed realities of the legitimacy of conscription and military ser— vice that perpetuates the placement [If an ineq— uitable military service burden on society‘s lower strata. This paper agrees with Park that the gap is closing. but not due to any increased recognition of military service. Rather, it is because military culture and service are seen as instruments for a peaceful unification. Unlike Moon’s view that the state’s hegemonic control over the construction of legitimacy and equitability of conscription and military service results in a distorted acceptance by society, this paper argues that the acceptance is based on a growing societal belief that the mili- tary represents a real and a positive force for uni— fication and the future of the Korean ethnic na- tion. Introduction although the Korean War has not ended on the Korean peninsula, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the influence of a changing global order have had a profound impact on in— ter—Korea relations. The end of military rule. the dynamics of democratization, and the normal- ization of relations between South Korea and its neighboring Cold War enemies have prompted the Soath Korean government and public to rev think their brutal struggle with North Korea in light ofthe changing global and domestic climate of a new post-Cold War era. The politics of transition have also fuelled a new and striking fascination with their country‘s wartime past as a new generation of South Ko— reans struggle to address a conflict that marl-ted the beginning of Cold War antagOnisms, but has not ended On the Korean peninsula even though the global Cold War is over. Various eiforts to reexamine the Korean War in a new light were made in the mid—193% and 199% as a natural by— product of the democratization process and the The Signr Center Asia Papers 29 EMS Hahn Moo-Sonic Colloquium in the Korean Humanities end of military rule in South Korea. Following the de—politicization of the South Korean mili— taryl that began under President Kim Young~sam (19934998), President Kim Dae lung's [1993- EIIJIIJSJ Sunshine Policy, and the recent efforts by President Roh Mu—hyun [EGGS—present] to ex— tend an Engage~the—North Policy, various efiorts to rewrite Korea’s Cold 1iafar history and come to terms with Korea's violent colonial and military past have recently been undertaken in earnest. The speed and scope of these political devel— opments also appear to have created a society more fragmented than ever before. Rancorous debates over major policy issues, including the meaning and significance of Korea's colonial and military past, have led to deep ideological rliviw sions and increasing polarization of Korean so- cial values and attitudes.1 The newly coined term "South—South Friction” {Hum—nuns knitting] aris— ing from the controversial conciliatory policy toward North Korea, describes the deep disunity and divisions that exist within South Korean so- ciety.” Contemporary South Korean politics is in disarray, marked by both the traditional factional and, more importantly, ideological struggles. Ko- rean civil society has generated a range of com— peting ideas and the fault lines of this polariza— tion have appeared largely along generational and ideological lines. Films produced in South Korea at the tom of the millennium have been inspired by these po— litical deVelopments. These films are significant as cultural artifacts, because, in contrast to the New Korean Cinema of me 19305 and 199fls, they in- volve a clear intersection of elite and popular cul— ture. Korean cinema has undergone a rebirth in the last five years producing a series of unprece- dented box office successes. The release of Swiri in 1999 and ISA in 2090 marked the first profitable years for the Korean fibn business in decades.‘ It is significant to note that the biggest audience draws were war and division films. An analysis of 3:9 The Sr'gur Center Asia Pope these blockbuster war and division films throws fascinating light on how those seeking to rewrite South Korea's past have employed a mass cultural medium to fashion a new narrative of the war and novel perceptions of North Korea. Yet, while these films break new ground in their treatment of the Korean War and the im— age of North Korea, their portrayal of virtuous martial masculinity and heroic manhood are re— markably similar to the stereotypical treatment of Korean War heroes that are contained in a number of important South Korean films of the 1950s? its such, they are strikingly different from the War films produced during the 19995. which, as Kyung—hyun Kim has observed, "distinguished themselves by demythologizing the heroes.“ The return of virtuous and heroic manhood in South Korean fibns also point to the growing malaise in South Korean society over the current polar- ization and fragmentation of Korean politics and, in particular, the rancorous debates over North Korea policy, the U.S.-South Korean Security in— liance, Presidential Truth Commissions. and the repeal of the National Security Law? The return of the virtuous military hero in South Korean films, now largely stripped of po- litical or ideological convictions, appears to be symptomatic of the longing for the restoration of order and patriarchal authority in a society that has become increasingly fragmented. It also points to the new esteem that the military now seems to hold in contemporary South Korean society. Separated from politics in the 199fls, the military’s image has become more progressive."i Indeed, nothing could better embo dy the newim- age of heroic military manhood than some of the main characters found in South Korea’s contemv porary blockbuster films. For instance, the main character of Thegfilcki is a War hero in the South Korean army. His heroism, far from being ideo- logically motivated, is bound to his deep afiec- tion for his brother and family, rather than to the 1 particular politics of North or South Korea. The attractive and manly image of Sergeant D in the film ISA presents a memorable irnage of martial masculinity. The sergeant transcends the ideolog- ical divide between the two Koreas by way of his humanity, not his politics. In Siimida, good sol- diers are betrayed by politicians who force them to turn against each other. Silmido represents the disavowal of politics by the heroic soldier. Whereas 199fls film depictions of the war “ended up proliferating representations of men who had lost their virility and authority dur- ing the war,“ the “new” martial heroes of South Korea‘s contemporary films are characterized by their integrity, loyalty, discipline, strength, courr age, and composure—all characteristics of virtu- ous model soldiers. The return of the martial hero and the strikingly positive portrayal of military men in general are some of the more remarkable features of these movies. They signal not only a new idealiaation of martial manhood, but also link the qualities associated with this manly ideal to ways of overcoming both the division of the Korean peninsula and divisive domestic politics. This essay argues that even though these new films reveal a softer and more human image of North Korea that reflects this new political con— sciousness, they still project a nationalist agen— da that imagines a powerful form of masculine identity and authority reminiscent of the liififls. The key relationships in these films are between older and younger men, and women are featured as either intruders in that central relationship or completely marginal to it. Male bonding and brotherly relationship become the trope standing for the idealized unified nation. The yearning for national and familial reunion is thus portrayed in terms of the bonding between brothers or be- tween symbolic fathers and sons. Underlying the repeated evocations of the manly hero is a pan— Korean nationalist agenda that imagines a salient form of virtuous martial masculinity that con- Good Brothers, Model Soldiers, Sheila Miyosiri Jegerd' Inn-iii Kim fionts both the north-south division and divisive domestic politics thereby opening the possibil— ity of altematives. 'As such, these movies reflect, shape and express the buried dynamics of a new post—Cold War and posthorean War political consciousness in contemporary South Korea. Isa ,i'Sri or Joint Security Area {lflflfl} begins with a murder investigation. Two North Korean soldiers have been killed while a North Korean soldier, Sergeant D and a South Korean soldier, Sergeant Yi, have been wounded in a short and bloody fire— fight. 0 and Yi provide dramatically diiferenttes— timonies of the incident. It is up to Major Sophie Jean, a Swiss officer, to uncover the truth. The breakthrough happens when lean real- izes that a missing bullet at the crime scene sug— gested the presence of another soldier. Faced with this mounting evidence, Yi reveals the full story: when Yi was immobilized for hours by a mine in the Demiiitariaed Zone {DMZ}. it Was the North Korean Sergeant D who discovered him. This encounter sparked a surreptitious friendship be- tvreen the two "enemies" who were officially for— bidden from fraternizing. Yi and his subordinate Private Nam routinely cross over the "Bridge of No Return” at night to meet 0 and his subordi- nate Private Chong. The four soon form a tight fraternal bond. Yet the relationship among the four is hard ly on equal terms. 0, the older and more expe- rienced soldier, clearly dominates the group. Yi in particular, admires O and looks up to him as an elder brother. Poised, confident, courageous, and principled, CI personifies the ideal soldier. He proves his exemplary martial masculinity by res- cuing Yi from the minefield. D‘s words, actions and deeds exerts a powerful influence over ii. The contrast between Yi's naive, innocent, im- petuous, and imperfect martial virtuosity and Us The Sigur CenterAsio Papers 31 2W5 Helm Moo-Soot: Colloquium in the Korean Humanities quiet and admirable professionalism is conveyed in a scene where U graphically and vividly im— parts his notion that the most important prin- ciple of being a great solider is not how fast one can draw one’s gun, but how gracefisl one is under pressure. When Yi attempts to show his North Korean friends how quick he is with the gun, he is severely rebuked by CI who rhetorically asks, “Have you ever shot a man before?" while aim- ing his rifle at Yi's head. 0 ans‘tvers his own ques« tion, “I have several times." Frightened, Yi asks him to put down his weapon to which 0 replies, “Hey, Sergeant Yi, what is important in battle is not speed. Battle skills? No such thing. The most important thing is carrying yourself With compo— sure and bravery. That's everything? D‘s rebuke, which is repeated almost verbatim by Yi in his first interview with Major Iean, serves to underline the unequal relationship behveen the two men. By repeating G's exact words as his own, Yi reveals his strong desire to embody the same traits of martial masculinity that his North Korean “elder brother“ possesses. It is also during this scene that Private Chung reveals that D is one of the most highly decorated soldiers in North Korea. These stories merely serve to enhance D’s masculine appeal in Yi’s. Despite his reputation among his own compatriots as being a brave soldier, Yi is haunted by doubts about his masculinity. Yi‘s emulation of the elder “brother” D stems in large part from these doubts. His at— tempt to embody this ideal through the appro- priation of 0’s own words betrays both his admi— ration for {I} and his secret misgivings about his own manhood By focusing on these four men's friendship, the imagined unification of Korea is presented by ISA as an allegory of brotherhood. The political usage of the brotherhood trope representing unification also points to another important as- pect of Yi and 0's relationship: the competition. 1ll'lfhile Yi desires to be like C}, he is also sirnultane— ously in competition with him. Yi tries to com- pensate for his self-perceived shortcomings—his martial lack—by giving his North Korean friends material gifts: Choco Pies, magazines and a ciga— rette lighter. These gift—giving scenes turn politiv cally explosive, however, when Yi suggests to CI that he defect to the South, “so that he can con- tinue to eat his favorite Choco Pies.” D freezes with anger, spits out his mouthful of Chocc- Pie, and admonishes Yi, saying that it is not his wish to defect to the South, but to see the day when North Korea makes the best Choco Pies on the Korean peninsula. 0's refusal to be lured by the material Wealth of the South only heightens his masculine appeal. His resistance to Yi’s indirect characterization of North Korea as poor and backward demonstrates a defiant masculinity that challenges ‘r‘i’s own fragile subjectivity. The intensity of the fraternal feeling and of male bonding between Ti and 0 thus hides their intense competitiveness. Despite their differences the relationship is not impaired by politics or ideology. Both men share a measure of common ground in that each view the continuing war as impelled by outside forces beyond their control. 1ti'Iihen Yi asks whether they would really shoot each other if war broke out, 0 responds, “If the Yankee bastards play their war games, we’ll be obliterated. Zero. Three minutes into the war, both countries would be destroyed. it. total wasteland..." Yet, despite its political appeal, ISA is not a political film. No profound or probing political discussions take place between the four men. The film is surprisingly absent of any real or direct political content. Rather, the characters relate to each other more like innocent adolescent boys rather than politically aware and fully—grown adults. Their childish games, including make—be— lieve-war, belie the utter seriousness of their very much grownup and political-military mission in the DMZ that they have seemingly forgotten. 32 The Sigur Center Asia PflpEfS———m Good Brothers, Model Soldiers, Sheila Mijroshi Ingerci-I Iiyui Kim Their idyllic get-togethers are abruptly ended with the intrusion of a strait—laced North Ko- rean officer. Lieutenant Ch'oe, into their secret world. The intense and emotional brotherhood that overcame their reality of division is, in the end, undermined by political forces of the divi- sion represented by Lieutenant Chbe whose pres— ence now creates an irreconcilable conflict be- tween them. Prompted by Lieutenant I‘Ch’oe, the friends are suddenly forced to confront each oth— er as grown men and politically aware adults. lint whereas CI is able to make the necessary transi— tion from boyhood to manhood as he attempts to mediate the explosive situation and restore peace, Yi falters and is unable to rise to the challenge. During the mayhem Chine and Chdng are killed. Yi is wounded in the leg while Sgt. {J and Pvt. Nam are unwounded. It is 0 again who pre- vails in keeping a cool head to try to rectify the disaster. Before reinforcements arrive from both sides, 0 tells Yi to make up a story that he was kidnapped and tried to escape. To add credibility to his own role as the victim of a surprise attack, 0 tells Yi to wound him in the shoulder. In the meantime Pvt. Nam runs away making it appear that Yi was the only South Korean soldier at the scene. When Major Iean finally pieces together the full story she tells Yi that, according to Us testi- rnony, the bullet that killed Chong came from Yi’s weapon. Unaware of die effect that this revela- tion would have upon Yi, who believed Nam had fired the fatal shot, she notes, almost dismissively, I that it did not matter who fired their weapon first since everything had happened so quickly. This critical piece of information has a dev— astating etfect on Yi. Not only does he recognize that he was responsible for Change death, he also realizes that he had failed to live up to the traits of martial masculinity as embodied by O that he had so desired. He had not been graceful under pressure and had drawn his weapon too fast. His impaired manhood now exposed, D's return of Sgt. Yi’s gift via Major Jean, the cigarette lighter, is now interpreted by him as a rebuke. Indeed, when Jean asks whether 0 had a last message for Yi, he responds with a whistle, evoking the mine- field scene and his own “composure and bravery on the battlefield.” And it is in this sense that the climax of the film, the shoot out, must be under— stood fundamentally as a contest hEtWBfln North and South Korean soldiers, a test of manhood in which Yi failed miserably. This also explains his suicide at the end of the film. At the moment Yi shoots himself, the audience also sees the scene ofChbng’S death. "the two deaths are thus merged into one. And it is at that moment that Major Iean arrives, with cigarette lighter in hand, a witness to Yi's violent end. If it is Sgt. Yi’s impaired masculinity dist leads to Chong’s death. it is also his “male lack“ that results in the potential outbreak of hostili— ties between the two Koreas. Yi’s failure to remain “cool under pressure" leads to an all out shoot-out between North and South Korean soldiers at the DMZ. His suicide, therefore, must be interpreted as an attempt to rectify his shame, a recognition of his failure to live up to the ideal of martial manhood that he so desired to embody CI is the sole survivor of the incident. lOnly CI embodies the ideal traits of martial masculinity and survives the bloodbath created by the intru- sion of the authoritarian male, Lieutenant Chloe, and the weak and mefiecmal Yi. Indeed, it is G’s superhuman acts of selfusacrificing heroism [in saving "Efi from the minefield, for example). im— peccable grace under pressure, and deep human— ism and care for others that this “new” military hero enables the audience to imagine the coming together of the two Koreas in terms of a reunion between brothers. He alone among the male characters in the film is able to truly overcome the division between the two Koreas. Thus. if 0 represents the new heroic figura— 'Hre Signr Center Asia Papers 33 2005 Hahn Moo-Soot: Colloquium in the Korean limousines tion of inasctdinity, courage, poise, discipline and honor, as a symbol of deliverance from war anol national division, the authoritarian Ch’oe, the emasculated iii, and the other male characters in the film—both of whom are also too frail to exer— cise much power or autliorityurepresent Korea‘s inability to challenge the continuing division or even imagine moving beyond it. Neither punish— ing nor sentimental, 0 thus represents a new ide— al of reinvigorated masculinity that reconfigures preexisting forms of martial manhood portrayed in the films of the 1950s while imbung it with new meaning. It is significant, for example, that it is a North Korean solider. not a South Korean soldier, who enables his companions to imagine a world after the division, when the two Koreas can embrace each other as brothers. Motivated neither by political considerations or ideological impulses, D embraces his younger South Korean brother by way of his deep humanitarian values. Ultimately, however, 0's humanism and idealism are not strong enough to overcome the political forces of the division, but he at least reveals the possibility that such a future exists. Silmido If the authoritarian and punishing male fig— ure intrudes upon the brotherly bond between CI and Yi, the same arbitrary political forces also intrude upon the relationship between brothers and between fathers and sons in both Silmido {seas} and Thegfilrki {senate While ISA locates the source of this intrusion in a person, Lieuten— ant Ch’oe, both Silmirio and ’i'hegfikki blame the arbitrary power of the state for the division of fra— tetnal bonds. Both films investigate the political force of Korea's division that turn brothers against each other. These films recast the Korean 1-a"r"ar EX- perience and the continuing division of the pen- insula in terms of male bonding intruded upon by arbitrary and authoritarian political forces. 34 The Si‘gur Center Asia Papers The main theme of Silmido and Thegiiitki centers on the creation, severing, and mending of the re— lationship between brothers and between fathers and sons. in both films, the state betrays the main character, leading to conflict betWeen brothers. This conflict iinds resolution once the male hero recognizes this betrayal, challenges the state, and returns—symbolically or otherwise—to the orig— inal fraternal bond. Silmido begins with two disparate events in 1968, the attempted assassination of South Ko— rean President Park Chung—lice by a group of 31 North Korean commandos, and the attempted killing ofa South Korean gang leader. The two in" cidents become intertwined as the arrested South Korean gang member, after being sentenced to death, is given a new lease on life by being of— fered the chance to serve his country by joining 3D other death—sentence convicts in a unit whose mission is to assassinate the North Korean leader Kim ll Sung as a revenge for the brazen North Korean attempt. The prisoners are taken to the remote island of Silrnido where they undergo a punishing train— ing regime. Each prisoner is assigned a personal military trainer and soon Unit 634, as they are called, becomes a highly trained, disciplined, and loyal fighting force. The theme of betrayal plays out on two main levels of the film. First, there is the personal be- trayal of the protagonist, Kang ln—cbao. Betrayed by the communist fatherthat abandoned Kang and his mother to go north when he was a teen~ ager, Kang carries the stigma of his father‘s crime and is unable to lead a normal life. 'lhe political beliefs of the father led to the father’s personal betrayal of the son. Kang’s desire to become a member of Unit 634 and train for the mission “to cut the throat" of Kim Il Sung is not motivated by any political or ideological convictions. Rather, he seeks to enact revenge for his and his mothers suifcring on the husband and father who aban— Good Brothers, Model Soldiers, Sheila Miyosiii Ingram! ,Fiyul Mm doned them. In this sense, despite its political content, Silmido is not a political film; die main characters, as in ISA, are “non—ideological.” The members of Unit I534 are motivated to fulfill their mission by personal not political reasons. They join up not because they are rabid anti—communists, but be— cause they want to live and pursue their own pri— vate ambitions. While Kang's desire to go North is motivated by his desire to enact revenge on his father, others simply want to better themselves, or start a new life again when they return. Pri- vate desires, not ideological convictions, motivate these soldiers’ actions. The second level of betrayal plays out between the soldier and the state. During the long period of training and waiting, members of Unit 634 and their trainers have grown very close, forging fraternal, and in some cases, paternal bonds. The sudden thaw in North—South relations made the existence of Unit 684 unnecessary and the South Korean government [embodied nameless men in black suits} orders the dissolution of the unit. When the head of the training camp, Major 'Ch'oe, is given the order by the state to kill the members of Unit 634, he protests vigorously. But when faced with the threat that he and his own soldiers would be killed along with the members of Unit 684 if he refuses the order, he surrepti— tiously lets Kang know of the unit’s impending destruction, thereby giving unit a chance to save themselves. In defiance of the political forces that have come between brothers (and in this case, between surrogate father and son), Ch’oe defies the state in his role as a loyal and honor— able soldier. By refusing to betray Kang and the other unit members, Ch’oe stands in for the father that Kang never had. While politics threatens the bonds between father and son, the good soldier maintains his brotherly bonds. although Ch’oe himself falls victim to the political division, his loyalty and manly strength reveal the possibility of overcoming it. When Kang confronts Chloe at the end of the film and demands an explanation for why Chbe let Kang and his fellow inmates know of the order to annihilate them, putting the litres of lEh'oe’s own men at lisk, the latter replies: to soldiers, they may die carrying out their mis— sion, but my sense of duty won't let me break my promise to you.” Siimido mirrors the dynamic of political con- frontation between “brothers” featured in ISA. In each case, the bonding bets-teen brothers and be— tween fathers and sons is made across political, ideological, and socio—economic lines. The poli— tics of division intrudes upon this fundamental relationship by forcing brothers to turn against each other. Silmido symbolically reenacts the war and the human stories of betrayal caused by the division. It reveals how the unending Korean War intrudes upon personal relationships and dis- rupts them. It is the loyal and manly soldier in the person of both Chloe and his second-in com- mand, flie tough but deeply empathetic lCho, who ulti mately resist the state by refusing to be swayed by politics. By remaining faithful to the brotherly bond, they alone emerge as the true, if tragic, he- roes of the film. Siimirio celebrates the salient form of martial masculine identity marked by honor, integrity. loyalty, discipline, and competence that directly challenges both state bureaucrats and weak lead— ers behind the betrayal of good men. In sharp con— trast to the films of the 199fls that characterised the nation’s crisis through the figuration of trau— matic males, Silmido otters a new form of military masculinity reminiscent of the lil'fifls—the tough authoritarian male figure. While Major Ch’oe and the members of Unit I534 are ultimately defeated by the state and division politics, their refusal to be victimized by it emblematizes the possibility of confronting, and ultimately disavowing the forc— es that seek to break the bond between brothers. Far from surrendering to their fate, the heroes in The Sigur Center Asia Papers 3.5 2005 Hahn Moo-Soak Coiioquium in the Korean Humanitim the film actively confront and challenge it. It is in this sense that their deaths must be construed as a form of protest; it is the manly man in the pen son of die heroic soidier who actively confronts division politics, and through his death, refuses to acquiesce or he victimized by it. Thegiikki The same disavowal of division politics by the martial hero is also the main theme of the Ko- rean 1War blockbuster, Thegfikki (BUM). A story of two brothers who are caught up in the rawages of war. 'i'hegukiti, like ISA and Siimitio, explores the relationship between brothers in light of the unending Korean 1sitar that both challenges their relationship and threatens to undermine it. Like Silmido and ISA, the main characters are apoliti— cal; their actions are motivated not by their ideor logical outlook, but by personal loyalties. Forcefuily enlisted in the army during the out- break of the war, the two brothers find themselves on the battlefield where they must suddenly con— front the horrors of war. The elder brodier, Chin- t’ae, who shines shoes for a living, has devated his life to seeing his younger brother, Chinvsok, a bookish kid, make something out of his life. Obsessed with finding a Way to send his younger brother home, he is promised by his commander that if he can earn the highest medal for bravery, Chin—suit will be released from his military duties and can return home. As a result, Chin—t'ae volun— teers for the most risky operations and continu- ally puts his life on the line in the hope of earning the award. all for the love of his brother. Increasingly frustrated with lChin—t’ae’s hero- ics, lChin-sols becomes resentful and interprets Chindt’ae’s actions as a quest for personal glory. its the war progresses, the relationship between the two brothers slowly deteriorates. The war also changes Chin—t’ae; in revenge for the massacre of a South Korean village, Chin—the ltiils unarmed North Korean prisoners. TWhen Chin-t’ae finally earns his medal, his relationship with his younger brother has completely unraveled. Much like Siimido, it is the act of betrayal that instigates the main character’s "apolitical" awak- ening. In Thegflhki, this occurs with the execu- tion of Chin t‘ae’s fiancee for alleged communist leanings by South Korean forces, and more sig— nificantly, when a South Korean oflicer orders the burning of a prison where Chin—sok has been locked up along with other suspected communist sympathizers. Believing that his brother died in fire fire, lChin-t’ae defects to the North. Brotherly love, not patriotism, drove Chin-t'ae to become a South Korean war hero, and revenge, not politics, drove him to join the North. Like Siimido and ISA, Thegfikici is thus an apolitical film. Tviihiile Thegfikki can be interpreted as a generic anti-war movie, the more significant message might be the repudiation of ideology and the rejection of poli— tics that seek to divide families. Like ISA and Silmido, Thegflkki also otters up a new image of martial masculinity that is both heroic and apolitical. These films re—mythoiogize the virtuous soldier who, now stripped of any ideological or political convictions, rises above division politics by declaring his loyalty to the tra— tern al and familial bonds. The protagonists refuse to be victims of the division and the wounds that they incur represent their active resistance to the traumas of division, not their passive submission to it. Like Major (Shoe and the members of Unit 634 in Silmitio, Chin-t’ae also sacrifices his life at the end of the film. Chin—t’ae's death is required to achieve a higher goal and purpose of brotherly love over politics and ideology. And just as Chin— t‘ae dies in order to save his brother's life, Ch'oe kills himself to maintain his honor as a soldier and keep his promise to his men. [n the same way, the final group suicide of the members of Unit 634 is an active response to the state‘s betrayal, not a passive submission to their tragic fate. These male as rag Sigur Center an: Papers—-—-———-—— Good Brothers, Modal Soldiers, Sheila Miyoslrilogerrl'fiyullfi'im protagonists choose death voluntarily in order to awaken collective consciousness. thereby giving birth to a new political agency. In this sense, their deaths must be understood as a form of sacrifice, as well as protest against the war and the division that enhances their masculine authority rather than diminishing it. Conclusion South Korea's new war and division films imagine a nation guided by heroic soldiers who overcome competirtg ideologies by remaining loyal to fraternal bonds. By contemplating a way out of the nation's crisis through the idealizau tion of these bonds, these films offer a paradig— matic version of martial manhood that confronts and ultimately resists the politics of the division by remaining staunchly anti-ideological. This anti-ideology is the most important feature of emergent pan—Korean nationalism. Pan—Korean nationalism, and the overcoming of political di- visions—between the two Koreas and within South Korean society itselfu-are made through the idealiaation of the fraternal bond, includirtg the virtuous soldier who remains faithful to that bond. The return of the authoritarian-male figure in these films speaks both to the challenges of an emerging civfl society threatened by its own so— cial and political fragmentation, and the image of the military as a remedy to politics. By imagining pan-Korean unity in terms of the unity between brothers, these films propose a nation guided by the harmonious, traditional universe of Ko— rea’s prewar past when brothers were not pitted against brothers, and when fathers did not absent themselves from their sons. in this sense, they are reflective of the current political and generational divisions in South Korea over the unending Kov rean War and the rancorous public debates about how to finally bring the conflict to an end. By res- urrecting the virtuous hero—soldier, now stripped of political or ideological convictions, from South Korea’s recent military past, these films offer up new versions of authoritative masculinity aimed to unify an increasingly fragmented South Ko— rean society. These characters also confirm the agenda of the pan-Korean nation that must come together under the aegis of traditional familial values. Chinvt‘ae’s “pure” intentions and loyalty to the brotherly bond demonstrate the present—dayr hope for a new Korea irt its search for national unity. If die new figuration of virtuous heroic man— hood speaks to the future of a new post-Korean War era, it does so through nostalgic references to an imagined patriarchal, harmonious, and ide- alized past. It is perhaps not unwarranted to con— clude that the striking phenomenon of the vir— tuous soldier-hero in South Korea's blockbuster films may be because they dramatiae their resis- tance to division politics, representing the need to move beyond the Korean War that is the source of both South Korea’s fractured politics and inter— national crisis. The poignant spectacle of broth erly love, soldierly virtues. and personal sacrifice in drese films stands as an indictment, not sim- ply against the forces of war and division that pit brothers against brothers, but a range of social conflicts within South Korean society itself. References firmstrong, Charles K. "South Korea and the United States Sixty Years On.” Japan Focus. 31 May Ell-US. blip;,J]fl'apanfocusorgiarticle. gsgi‘idzlfll Baker, Carl. “Korea: Challenges for Democratic Consolidation,“ in Tim Rolfe, ed. Tl'lwdsiurPu— erfie: A Region in Transition. (Honolulu: Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies, 2004). more. Croissant, Aurel. “Electoral Politics in South Ko- rea." In Electoral Politics in Southeast and East The Sigur CenterAsio Papers 3? 2005 Hahn Moo-Soak Colloquium in the Korean Humanities Asia. Aurel Croissant, ed. (Bonn: Freidrich— Eibert—Stifung, 2993}. Demiclr. Barbara. “MacArthur is Back in the Heat of Battle." The Los Angeles Times. 15 Septem- ber EGGS. Dilfiient, David Scott. “Cinematic Spectacle and the Postwar Cultural Politics of Red Mufllerf’ In South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gen“ tier. Genre. andr National Cinema. (Detroit: Wayne State Universityr Press, 2995). Duh, D. Shin. Mass Politics anal Culture in Democ— ratizing Korea. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999}. Han’guk yongsang charyowon, ed. Han’gulr yiinghwasa lrongbu, 1960—1929 (History of Korean Film, 1969—1929}. (Seoul: Yich’ae, 2004]. Hong, So-in. “Munye yfinghwaeso iii nam songson g you go: 1956— 1 969—nyfin kkajii'li han’gulr yfinghwa rill chungsim fire" (it study _ of masculinityin art films: focusing on South Korean films from 1966 to 1969). Master's thesis. (Chung’ang University, 2003}. Huang, Hye-jin. “1920anyondae yusin ch’ejegi iii han'gulr yonghwa yongu" [it study of films from the 192125 yusin period}. Ph.D. disserta- tion. [Tongguk University, 29133). lager, Sheila Miyoshi. "Re-writmg the Past, Re— elaiming the Future: Nationalism and the Pol— itics of Anti—Americanism in South Korea." Japan Focus. 29 Iulyr 21395. htjpfljapanfocus. orgimfide.lsglid=34?. . "Korean Collaborators: South Korea's New Truth Committees and the Porg- ing of a New Pan—Korean Nationalism.” Japan Focus. a June 2005. h : 'a anfocus. ar— tiele.asp_?id=3t]1. . “Monumental Histories: Man- liness. the Military and the War Memoriaif’ Public Culture 14, no. 2 (2933]. 332—411]. Kihl, Young-Whan. Ttansforming Korean Politics: Democracy Reform Culture. (Armonk, NY: 33 The Sigur CenterAsia Paper ME. Sharpe, 2MB}. Kim, Kyung—Hyun. The Remasculinization of Korean Cinema. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004). . "Is This Howr the War is Remem— beredi: Deceptive Sex and the lie—Masculin— ized Nation in The Taehaelt Mountains," in David E. Young and Kyung Hyun Kim, eds. Im Kwon—Taelc: The Making of a Korean Cin- ema. (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, zoos} “Post-Trauma and Historical Remembrance in Recent South Korean Cin~ ema: Reading Park Kwang—su’s A Single Spark [1995] and Chang Son-u’s A Petal (1996),“ Cinema Journal 41, no. 4 (2902}. 95—115. Kim, Kyong-ok. Bulrolchosutb iii hwansang, hanjgult yonghwa iii narussisisum (The Fanta— sy of Blockbusters, The Narcissism of Korean Cinema}. 9Seoul: Ch’aesaesang, 2flfl2fl. Kim, Samuel. “Korea's Democratization in the Global-Local Nexus,” in Samuel Kim, ed. Korea’s Democratization. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2903}. Kim, Seung—hwan. ‘Zlmtiwnmericanism in Korea,” The Washington Quarterly 26, no. 1 (211(13): 1139422. Kim, Sovyong. "Unmyong fli son? Yoksaehok t'uramahwa han’guk iii namsongsong” (The Hand of Fate? Historical Dramas and Korean Masculinity), Munhahlrwasahhoe 63 {211103}. 1222-1294. Kim, Sun—hyuk “Civil Society in Democratizing Korea." In Korea’s Democratization, Samuel Kim. ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Uni— versity Press, 2903}. Korea lDlverseas Information Service (KCIIS). “Silmido sets milestone in Korean Films.“ 19 Febmary 2W4. - Lankcrv, Andrei. “ The Dawn of Modern Korea: a Night at the Cinema," The Korea Times. 4 August 211115. I..|-I-— Good Brothers, Model Soldiers, Sheila Miyoshi Ingerei' jtyul Kim Lee, Soolc—jong. “The Rise of Korean Youth as a Political Force.” In Brookings Northeast Asia Survey 20d3-2304,_ Richard C. Bush. ed. (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institute, zoos). Lee. long—won. “The South-South Conflict and Korean Residents in Iapanf Nautilus Insti- tute Policy Forum Gnline [IS—40.31. 12 May 211135. http:i'inunenautilus.orgiforaisecurityi flfififlfiWgnhiml Min. Byong—chae. "Han’gult taejung yonghWa e ltwanhan chongch’i kyongjehakchok yon- gu—Kitn Daevjung chongbu ltigan sinario ui byonhyon hyangsang ul chungsim uro” (A Political-Economic Study of Korea Popular Films Focusing on the Changing trends of Film Scenarios During the Kim Dae Icing pe- riod}. Ph.D. dissertation. {Tongguk Univer— sity. zoos). Min, Eyong-rok. “19m nyondae yusin ch’ejelti ui han‘g‘uk yonghWa yongu” [ A Study of Kore- an Cinema of the ISFIDs Yusin Era}. Master's Thesis. [Tongguk University. 20GB}. Mun. Chae~cth “Seroun bangsik firo pundan ul sangsanghagi” (A New Way to Imagine the Division}. In yonsedae midioafu yonguso yo— kum [Compiliation from the Research Insti- tute of Contemporary Media}. Eds. Kongdong kyonghi kuyolt ISA. (Seoul: Samin. 211112}. 0. Yunnho. Han’gult yonghwa wa naemyon— hWayeon chonchaeng moifllwarSiimido, Theggflki hwinolrimyo rul chungsim uro {Korean Cinema and the Internalization of War Culture—With a Focus on Silmido and Theggfikfl. Yoksuwo munhwa 9 {NIH}. BI— 93. Pack, Mun—im. “‘T‘alinyom iii chongch‘ihakm swiri. kench’oi chin, kongdoug icyongbi kayak ISA" [The Politics of Rnti—Ideologf—Switi. Agent Lee chill-chin, and JSA). In yonsedae midianu yonguso yokum {Compiliation from the Research Institute of Contemporary Media]. Eds. Kongdong kyortghi ltuyoic ISA. (Seoul: Samin, 2602]. Sub, Byung-hoon. "Kim Dae lung’s Engagement Policy and the South—South Conflict in South Korea: Implications for LLS. Policy.” Asia So- ciety. (Summer, 20-31). httpfluwniaonet. orgiypsi‘subflli. Yonghwa chinhfing icongsa {The public corpo— ration for the promotion of film}. Hunguic yonghwe chukp’um choujip, 19.714935 {The complete collection of South Korean films, will-1985]. (Seoul: ‘t'onghwa chinhung kongsa, 1936). Hunjguk yfinghwu churyu anmm {A guide to South Korean film re— sources). (Seoul: Ybnghwa chinhfing kongsa, IQFFL Honjguk yonghwu P'fl-uyon: tuepjrojuk 200 son [Seventy years of South Korean cinema: EGG representative Works]. (Seoul: Yonghwa chinhung kongsa. 1939]. Notes ' The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Army, Department of Defense. or the US. Government. 1 David McCann noted that it might be more usefisl to think of the changes in terms of the demilitariaation of politics. Either perspective would work as both point to the deliberate and significant separation of politics and military that began under Kim Young—sam. 3 long—won Lee. “The South—South Conflict and Korean Residents in Iapani" Nuutiius Institute Policy Forum Oniine 05—40441, May 11, 2005. grggfilrgfseggrjmflfifllfll‘h’onhtml: Sheila ijoshi lager, “Re-writmg the Past. Reclaiming the Future: Nationalism: and the Politics of Antivfiimericanism in South Korea? japan Focus. July 19. 2305, a.gp?id=34?-, Sheila Miyoshi lager. “Korean Collaborators: South Korea's New Truth Committees and the Forging of a New Pan-Korean Nationalism," Input: Focus, lune 6, 20115. ht : ' anfo ' ?'d= 1-, liming-hon“ Suh, "Kim Due lung's Engagement Policy and the South—South The Sigur Center Asia Papers 35' 2005 Hahn Moo-Souk Colloquium in the Korean Humanities Conflict in South Korea: Implications for US. Policy? Asia SocietyI (Summer. EDfll]. hfipiitmciaonetflgi W and Seung~hwan Kim. "Anti-Americanism in Korea." The Washington Quarterly 25:1 {2003], 109-122. 5 Since the liberation of'Korea in 1945. the “Right-Left ideological divide. along with regionalism. has defined South Korean politics. The term “South-South conflict." however. is dilterent from previous political divisions in die past as its origins have to do with conflicts within South Korea society over policy toward North Korea. Generally speaking. the term came into usage as part of the media's lenich after the Tune EDDIE} inter—Korean summit. Thereafter, it gained widespread usage after the controversial incident imrolving South Koreans who visited North Korea in 200] for the “National Unification Festival" in Pyongyang. As long-won Lee has pointed out. “the conflict emerged more accurately alter the inauguration of Roh Mu-hytu‘t’s government and the repeated disunity over policy approaches toward North Korea" (Lee. “The South-South Conflict”). These policy conflicts are linked to the disunlty within South Korean society over South Korea’s traditional relationship to the United States. Growing resentment among younger South Koreans. exacerbated by the Bush administration’s hard line approach to North Korea. has led many of South Korea's leaders to question the continuing logic of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. For example. the recent struggle over the meaning and significance of a bronze statue of Douglas MacArthur. which loolts over South Korea’s bustling Inch'on port. is a case in point. Door a reminder ofthe American general's role in driving back North Korean forces in 19512}, the statue has recently become alocus ofintergenerattonal conflict bets-seen older generation Korean conservatives. many of them Korean WEI veterans. and younger Koreans pushing for reconciliation with North Korea. Riot police now patrol the area and dain rallies are held there to both protest and defend the statue. On the MacArthur statue issue see Barbara Demick. “MacArthur is Back in the Heat of Battle." Les Augeles Times. September 15. 2035. These protests to underscore the increasingly negative image of the United States among younger South Koreans. For example. a joint poll conducted by the Ioongdng Dolly newspaper. C515 and RAND in September. 2003. found that over one third of Koreans in their 20s chose the US. as the least favored country— 2.4.4 percent—while only 4.1 percent of those polled chose North Korea. For a detailed analysis of these findings. see Souk-long Lee. “The Rise of Korean Youth as a Political Force.” in Richard C. Bush. ed. Brookings Northeast Asia Survey EMS—2.904 (Washington. DC; The Emolrings Institute. 2W4}. For an overview of these political transformations. including rising anti- Arnericanism in South Korea. see Charles K. Armstrong. “South Korea and the United States Sixty Years On.” Input: Focus. May. 31. 21105». thp'Jtiapanfm‘Lugoggflarticle. mtidflfli; Samuel Kim. “Korea's Democratization in the Global—Local Nexus? in Samuel Kiru. cd Korea's Democratization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2W3}; Seunguhwan Kim. “Anti-Americanism in Korea"; and Young-Whan KihL Transforming Korean Politics.- Democracy Reform Culture [Armonlc. NY: ME. Sharpe. 20E}. “ Byong—chae Min. “Plan,ng taejung yonghwa e ltwanhan chongch’i lryongjehalcj olt yongu—mKim Dae-juug chongbu kigan sinario tii byonhyon hyangsang til chungsim uro" {A Political—Economic Study of Korea Popular Films Focusing on the Changing trends of Fihn Scenarios During the Kim Dae lung period}. Ph.D. dissertation. Tongguk University: 2003; Kyong-ok Kim. Bulrakbosutb ui limitsng hort'guir yongirwa ni nomsisisum [The Fantasy of Blockbusters. The Narcissism of Korean Cinema] (Seoul: lIEh'aJesacsang. 2W2}. 5 The heroic figuration ofthe South Korean soldier figures prominently in many Korean War films produced during the 19605. During the film indUstry's so-ealled “classical” period. which introduced the first significant sound film productions. a number of new genres began to appear. including a wide range of “war action" cinema that featured the heroic figuration of the loyal South Korean soldier as the film's main protagonist. In response to a movie market dominated by foreign films. the Parlt administration instituted a number of obligatory quotas for locally produced features. The Korean Motion Picture Law of January 20. 1962. mandated that film studios must produce at least 15 films per year and that all films must be commercial by design. As a result. Korean audiences were exposed to a number of domestically produced films that competed with foreign. mostly American. movies. Movie attendance during the 196th also winiessed rapid growth. It was in the rapidly industrializng urban areas before the advent of television that created the major audience for the booming cinema indusz of the era. Movie attendance in Seoul was much higher than the national average. The average Seoulite in 1964 went to the movies 13.9 times per year. in contrast to just 3.3 times for the average Korean {Andrei Lanlcov. " The Dawn of Modern Korea: A Night 40 The Sigur Center Asia Papers————-——-— Good Brothers, Model Soldiers, Sheila Mryoshl lagers? Iiyul Kim at the Cinema." The Korea Times. August 4, 2005}. Popular war films from this period include. Ola ltl hoebyong (Five Marines. dir. Kim Ki—clok. 1961]; Toroochl minim hoeoyong {The Marine Who Won't Come Home. dir. "1'1 Man—bee. 1963-]; Sunleyojo [The l’vlartyu', dir. ‘r'i Hyon—molt. I965]; Ppolgon molten: [Red Mufller. dir. Sin Sang—oh. 1964]. Namgwobulc {South and Nordi, dir. Kim Ki-dok, 1965}. and Kunhon opmm yongso (The Unknown Hero. dir. Yi l'ilian-heeJ 1966}. For a more detailed analysis of 19605 Korean War films. see I-[an‘guk yfingsang charymvon. ecL Hen'guk yd rig-h wont lrongbu. 1.9694979 {History of Korean Film. 1960-19139] (Seoul: "'ficl't'aer 2004}; So-in li‘iong:I “Munye yonghwaeso ni nalnshngsong yongu: 1966-1969- nyiin ldcajiiii han'guk yonghwa rill chungsim firo" [ll study of masculinity in art films: focusing on South Korean films from 1966 to 1969]. Master's thesis. lEhung'ang University; 2093; and Byong-rok Min, “19.79 nyondae ynsin ch'ejelti ui han‘gulr yonghm yongu" { .i'l Study of Korean Cinema ofthe l9TIDs Yusln Era}, Master's ThesisII Tongg'ulc University. 2093. For an excellent analysis of Ppolgon mehuro [Red Muiiler] in English see David Scott Diitrlent. “Cinematic Spectacle and the Postwar Cultural Politics of Red Muffler." in South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, «GenreJ and National Cinema (Detroit: Wayne State University Press. EDUS}. '5 Kyung-hyun Kim, The Remnsculirtiznlion ofKore-an Cinema (Durham: Duke University Press. 2004]. 200. 7 South Korea's civil society is increasingly polarized even as democratization occurs. In particular, issues surrounding North Korea and policy toward the US are dividing Koreans along generational and ideological fault linesII leading to the creation ofwhal Bob has called "critical democrats." meaning those who broadly accept democratic principles but remain skeptical of the “daily performance oi'the government and suspicious ofpoljtical - institutions" (D. Shin Dob. Mass Politics and Culture in Democratizng Korea (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. 1999]. One indication of this skepticism is the declining participation in elections. Participation in presidential elections has declined since 193?. In 193?. 39.2 percent of all registered voters participated in the presidential elections while fill percent participated in the 2092 elections {Aurel Croissant, “Electoral Politics in South Korea.“ in Aurel Croissant, ed. Electoral Politics in Southeast and East Asia {Bonn- Freidr-ich-Eibert-Stifimg, 2993}; Carl Baker, “Korea: Challenges for Democratic Consolidation." in Iim Rolfe, ed. The Asia—Pacific: A Region in Transition (Hawaii: i‘tsla Pacific Center for Security Studies. 20114)}. llThe increasineg positive image of the South Korean military since the Kim Young—sam administration is indicated by a comparison of public opinion polls between 1994 and 2904. A 1994 public opinion poll showed that 29.5 percent ofcitizens (intellectuals and societal leaders. who were separately polledII indicated a higher percentage of34.4 percent} had a positive image about the military while 18.5 percent did not. The majority, 51.2 percent, expressed a neutral opinion, neither positive nor negative. A 2903 poll indicated ll1at T43 percent believed that military service made a positive contribution to life. A Korea Gallup poll in May 2004 showed that 19.6 percent answered that the military contributed either n'a lot" or “somewhat” to the development of the nation. The young [Ells- to 495] and college students shared that positive view {55.2 percent oithose in their 29s. F53 percent of those in their 305. HT percent of those in their 49s, and T22 percent of students}. Despite the memory of the Kwangju Uprising and its brutal suppression by the military in 1930. 395.4 percent of the respondents from Cholla province also thought the military had made positive contributions to the nation's development. Results from the 1994 poll from Kongbochli {South Korean agency for public information}, I994 nyondo chongbuyoron chose choryojip {Reference material for the 1994 government opinion poll], 58-9. Results from the 2093 poll from Kukbang taehaklryo anbo munje yong'uso {Korean National Defense Unchrsity Research Institute for National Security Affairs}, 20:93 pdmlrngmin onbo fiisilryoron chose {1003 nationwide public opinion poll on national security}. T4. The 2004 Korea Gallup poll results from httpcllgallupnholnoml svcdblcondition_oontent.asp?objSN=2tlll¢1-{1505iltld. 5 Kyung-hyun Kim, The Remasculinizntlon ofKorenn Cinema. T9. In Following the success ofISA in soon. the South Korean film industry was shalom again with the appearance of two blockbuster films that appeared within three months of each other. Silmldo broke all records. bringing in 19.4 million people to the theatre when it opened in M93 and making it the most watched film in Korea. In 2904. T'iregfiltlti surpassed that record by selling almost 12 million tickets. Almost a third of the population have seen these films. See Korea Overseas Information Service [K015]. “Silmido sets milestone in Korean Films." Feb. 19, 21094. The Sigur Center Asia Papers 41 ...
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