In children’s eyes: Historical and ethnographic value of child perspectives in 1960s South Korean cinema | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 1059-440X
  • E-ISSN: 2049-6710

Abstract

Child protagonists have been relatively uncommon in Korean cinema. This article, however, draws attention to two films from 1965 that both feature child protagonists: (Kim) and (Park). The article’s interest in these two films is twofold, found both in and beyond the diegesis. On a diegetic level, the emphasis on child perspectives plays a crucial function in refraining serious fictional narratives from following an adult’s expected (and melodramatic) narrative development. Such a pattern not only offers a creative glimpse into the world of children but also becomes a means through which filmmakers tactfully avoided the intensifying censorship of 1960s Korea. And yet, the filmmakers’ subtle criticisms of society, though unspoken in the diegesis, are almost osmotically imbued in the highly sociopolitical settings of the narratives. Thus, the resulting juxtaposition (and paradoxical discrepancy) between the settings and the children’s obliviousness become crucial in allowing viewers – at least contemporary ones – to recognize the unspoken social and political issues of the 1960s. Beyond the diegesis, the child is also crucial in having provided an opportunity to capture sensitive environments of the 1960s through its dedication to child perspectives that created a documentary-like realism. Thus, I argue the role of the child in these films to be not only a tool by which artists delicately avoided political criticism in the 1960s but also a vehicle that enabled rare archives into a forgotten past.

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2023-07-05
2024-02-21
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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): 1960s; child; diary; DMZ; Korean cinema; Korean War; Park Chung Hee
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