Korean cinema’s female writers–directors and the “Hegemony of Men”
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The South Korean film industry represents a masculine-privileged gender regime that over the last few decades has shown a newfound strength both at home and abroad. However, challenging this masculine privilege are a growing number of important though unheralded female writers–directors operating in both the independent and commercial sectors of the industry. In this article, the authors present a case study that explores the work of five of these female writers–directors within this context. They begin by asking two key questions: can female writers–directors find a voice within the Korean film industry that challenges the traditional gender stereotypes both within the industry and in the wider Korean culture? How can the Korean experience connect to the Western experience? The first methodological step in explicating the case study is to set out a particularly Western theoretical approach that emphasises the idea that masculine privilege exists hegemonically within the so-called ‘hegemony of men’. The authors then go on to highlight specific elements in the work of these female writers–directors that expose aspects of both challenge and constraint within the hegemony of men. They conclude that, although the work of these female writers–directors indeed challenges tradition and gendered stereotypes sustained within the hegemony of men, such challenges represent moments of reformism rather than revolutionary systematic change.
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