Ambivalence of Monstrosity and Sense of Reality Discourse of Humanity and Pacifism in the North Korean Film Bulgasari

Abstract

As in the Western world, Korea has a variety of mythical monsters. Among them is Bulgasari, a iron-eating monster and bizarre hybrid of animals, which will be the main topic of this paper. The monster��s name ��Bulgasari�� has a paradoxical meaning in Korean which is ��cannot be killed but can be killed by fire,�� which represents the wide gamut of ambivalent identity ranging from physical and metaphorical aspects of the monster, and provides a uniquely Korean reception and interpretation of being monstrous as distinctive from the Western archetypal imagery and understanding of monstrosity as Enduring Evil. For instance, while in the Western myth and tradition monstrosity is commonly recognized as enduing evil, Bulgasari��s destructive power is portrayed in the myth as a heroic trait to protect social justice by condemning and punishing the evils of society. Such an ambivalent identity as both monster and hero explains only a part of the features that explain the ambivalent identity of Bulgasari. This research especially focuses on the North Korean film Bulgasari (1985), and explores the way in which the ambivalent identity of Bulgasari develops into the various layers of discourses such as humanity and pacifism in the film, that is, a mixture of imagination and reality or a life-like imaginary space. In all, this research delves into unique ways in which the meaning of monstrosity is accommodated in the Korean environment and sentiment, as mirroring the Korean sense of reality situated in this era of South-North Division and Nuclear Holocaust.



Author Information
Jungman Park, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea

Paper Information
Conference: ECAH2014
Stream: Humanities - Media

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