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Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom's Frontier Hardcover – March 20, 2012

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Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea: Freedom's Frontier + Heritage Management in Korea and Japan: The Politics of Antiquity and Identity (Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) + Populist Collaborators: The Ilchinhoe and the Japanese Colonization of Korea, 1896-1910
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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the James B. Palais Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies and a Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea is a tour de force in its sophisticated approach to both literature and history.
(John Treat The Journal of Korean Studies)

...a sophisticated, rich, and tantalizing study that should appeal not only to literature and film scholars, but to historians in general.
(Koen De Ceuster Journal of Asian Studies)

Theodore Hughes's ambitious new study shows us how Korea's colonial past persisted beyond its 'liberation.' Taking up literature, film, and art, he traces a modern history of the senses, mapping the production, reproduction, and contestation of a new culture of visibility (and invisibility) in the decades before and after 1945. Sophisticated and engaging, Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea is a milestone in the study of East Asian modernity.

(Michael K. Bourdaghs, University of Chicago, author of Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon: A Geopolitical Prehistory of J-Pop)

Step by step Theodore Hughes will convince you the visual/verbal relationship that developed in the Korean colonial period has everything to do with the very foundations and logics of the postcolonial, Cold War South Korean developmental state, regime, and aesthetic. In so doing, he profoundly disrupts received histories of 'Korean' literature and received approaches to canonical literary and film texts. It is not an exaggeration to say that with Hughes, you will simply 'see' Korea differently. This is a must read for all those interested in the Koreas, the Cold War, and non-Western modernities at large.

(Nancy Abelmann, University of Illinois)

Theodore Hughes's book breaks new ground in the study of postliberation South Korean literary and visual culture. His insightful and nuanced readings of the inextricable links between 'the colonial modern' and South Korea's Cold War modernity are essential contributions to Korean studies scholarship in any language.

(Kyeong-Hee Choi, University of Chicago)

Literature and Film in Cold War South Korea deftly navigates various transitional historical moments, such as Korea's liberation, the outbreak of the Korean War, and the rise of a feverish anticommunist campaign in South Korea, while addressing the works of both canonical and often overlooked writers in Korean literature from the 1920s to 1970s. All in all, this is a masterful survey and analysis of twentieth-century Korean literary and visual culture that will bring an exciting new perspective to the field.

(Suk-Young Kim, University of California, Santa Barbara)

Head and shoulders above its competition.

(Kyu Hyun Kim Cross Currents)

Hughes delivers a postcolonial study of Korea's modern literary and cinematic history that no East Asian collection can be without.... Highly recommended.


...this work opens new doors for interpreting the subtle,and often overlooked, ways in which the Cold War was fought within the cultural field in East Asia.

(Christopher Grieve H-War)

Riveting... [Hughes's book] is a sophisticated, rich, and tantalizing study that should appeal not only to literature and film scholars, but to historians in general... This book should be compulsory reading not only for those with an interest in Korean culture studies, but also for Korean history majors.

(Journal of Asian Studies 1900-01-00)

About the Author

Theodore Hughes is associate professor of modern Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University. He is the co-editor of Rat Fire: Korean Stories from the Japanese Empire and the translator of Panmunjom and Other Stories by Lee Ho-Chul.

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