Jake Bevan

Department: Film Studies
Discipline: English

Project Summary

My research investigates the ways in which contemporary South Korean cinema has engaged with the nation's colonial past. My project, titled 'Colonial Memory and Trauma in Contemporary South Korean cinema', looks at the ways in which the colonial period has been directly represented on screen, as well as examining more indirect and allegorical depictions of historical trauma and its effects. Korea's status as a 'postcolonial' nation, and indeed even the Japanese empire as a whole, has often been overlooked within the field of Postcolonial Studies and debates about imperialism. Likewise, while there has been much written in the past decade on South Korean cinema, those films which investigate the peninsula's colonial legacy have yet to receive any extensive consideration. My research endeavours to go some way to addressing these lapses. I intend to focus upon a few key areas of South Korean cinema that each, to some extent, demonstrate an engagement with the colonial period and the representation of trauma. Firstly I will examine contemporary films with narratives wholly or partly set during the Japanese occupation, considering the conflicted way in which they represent the past as a site of trauma alongside a more nostalgic viewpoint that romanticises the coming of modernity to the peninsula. Secondly I plan to look at Arirang, both the folk song and the lost 1926 film directed by Na Un-gyu, considering how these cultural texts have come to be seen as emblematic of the colonial period and powerfully demonstrate the feelings of melancholy and loss which dominate the way the period is recalled in popular memory. Finally, I plan to look across a broader selection of contemporary films, particularly within the Horror and Thriller genres, to interrogate the way their narratives might allegorise national historical traumas through their presentation of fictional and personal past-tragedies.

Supervisory Team

First Supervisor: Dr. Song Hwee-Lim, Second Supervisor: Dr. William Higbee

Wider Research Interests

My broader research interests encompass much of contemporary East-Asian cinema. I am particularly interested in the ways in which cinema engages with its historical and national contexts and both feeds from and influences wider debates. Having started my academic career studying Italian, I have developed an interest in Italian cinema, predominantly the Neo-Realist Period and the 1960s, in particular the Italian Gothic cycle. I am also interested in the concept of cinematic 'slowness', a topic on which my supervisor is currently working.

Authored Publications/Reports

Jake Bevan (2010) Welcome to Panmunjeom: encounters with the north in contemporary South Korean cinema, New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, Volume 8 Number 1, 45-57