Daniel Herbert

Feeling for History:

Non-Linear Time Structures in Contemporary Korean Cinema


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Through its recent commercial and critical success, domestically and around the world, South Korean cinema has appeared as the latest “new wave” in the history of world cinema. For all that it appears as a recent cultural phenomenon, however, the content of Korean cinema seems obsessed with the past and with “pastness” itself. Through the use of flashbacks (Oldboy, 2003), time travel narratives (Il Mare, 2000), or even through stories told backwards (Peppermint Candy, 2002), South Korean films place a heavy burden on the past as a means of explaining the present. Drawing from a number of examples from the last ten years, this lecture examines how these stories and narrative devices give artistic expression to experiential modes of history and memory, thereby constituting a “structure of feeling” particular to contemporary South Korean experience.