In contemporary South Korean cinema, female-oriented genres such as melodrama and romantic comedy seem to have centred their attention on continuous negotiation of a woman's version of modernity and the ever present question of whether she can 'have it all.' Nothing new are patriarchally driven depictions of femininity venturing into the public sphere only to ultimately retreat into the private one as means of (re)achieving stability and sense of 'true' purpose; nonetheless, one can observe a curious - and perhaps more realistic - emergence of narratives in which modern independent women (archetype which I call New Korean Women) are seen voluntarily longing for the return to the domestic space only to ultimately find it insufficient when exclusively confined to. On the example of family comedy Wonderful Nightmare (2015), I therefore explore representations of female domesticity as simultaneously blissful and torturous, one that a woman yearns for as an anchor but can also no longer place in the centre of her own existence. I first establish the context of fast developing Korean modernity and the archetype of New Korean Woman emerging in the last two decades of Korean cinema. Next, I present changes to that paradigm, as illustrated by the main heroine of Wonderful Nightmare. To conclude, I widen the framework to briefly examine similar characters and understand whether such partial and ultimately dissatisfactory retreat into the domestic sphere reflects possible future development within Korean mainstream female narratives.
Agata Ewa Wrochna, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China
Paper Information Conference: MediAsia2018
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Added on Friday, July 27th, 2018
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