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Korea's Emerging Film Culture

Since its first encounter with the movie camera of Burton Holmes, Seoul has become the subject and frequented site of a host film- makers. The city itself-the emblem of modernity, the ambivalent icon of fascination and corruption-is diversely represented in Korean cinema since the Korean War. Haunted by historical memories and at times, overshadowed by an ever-changing present, the cityscape of Seoul had become a dominant theme of contemporary Korean cinema precisely because the city requires film makers to deal with both the past and the present in new and challenging ways. From Madame Freedom (1956) to Hong Sang-su's internationally acclaimed The Day When a Pig Fell Into a Well (1996), the films about Seoul have captured both the pressures and pleasures of urban life. Most surprisingly, Seoul has recently become the city of active movie-goers.

"Film fever, it's the problem of the young generation." One repeatedly comes across this statement from the old generation. Indeed, since early 1993, Korea is rapidly becoming the center of cinematic activity in East Asia. Not surprisingly, this new cinematic culture has also played a crucial role in encouraging the young generation to use the film medium as a way to relieve themselves of the pressures of modernization. With an ever widening and sophisticated audience, young film makers today have a much better opportunity to show their works than during previous generations. And whereas the 1980s film makers turned to the grand narrative style as a way of addressing political issues, these new film makers are more concerned with developing a personal vision and style unconnected with politics. The future direction of Korean cinema will inevitably be led by these creative and innovative young film-makers.

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