Somewhere Between Anti-Heroism and Pantomime: Song Kang-ho and the Uncanny Face of the Korean Cinema
This article explores the trajectory of Song Kang-ho’s on-screen performances from the release of his fourth film, Number 3 (1997), to one of his most recent films, Thirst (2009). As a case study, it reveals new insights about this popular and representative actor’s numerous screen personae and how they have enabled audiences to peer into a cinematic surface that reflects back a mixture of anti-heroism and pantomime. Beneath the many costumes and performance styles he adopts, audiences have come to see a human being with everyday problems and concerns. In a way reminiscent of the French pantomime clown Pierrot, Song’s characters reflect a depth of human feeling and compassion modulated by a comic undercurrent—the tension between these overlapping layers is precisely what holds his various personae together.
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