Hye Seung Chung’s article published in Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context

Professor Hye Seung Chung has published the paper “Fending Off Darkness, Uplifting National Cinema: Korean Film Censorship and The Stray Bullet” in Situations: Cultural Studies in the Asian Context.


Marshalling archival evidence of state censorship documents, this paper challenges the established historical narrative that construes Yu Hyǒn-mok’s The Stray Bullet [Obalt’an] (1961) as being a victim of anticommunist paranoia under Park Chung Hee’s military dictatorship. The author argues that the film’s two-year ban (1961–63) occurred primarily because of its tonal incompatibility with the new government’s cultural policy of cheerful national uplift. During the Park era, the nationstate aimed to foster a particular mode of affirmative emotions while discouraging negative feelings through the affective monitoring of national cinema. By comparing contrasting overseas reception of Yu’s uncompromisingly dark social problem film and Kang Tae-jin’s more hopeful family drama The Coachman [Mabu] (1961), the paper also demonstrates the universal appeal of uplift cinema advocated by the state.