Publication Details

Yecies, B, 'Planet hallyuwood's political vulnerabilities: censuring the expression of satire in the President's last bang (2005)', International Review of Korean Studies, 5(1), 2008, 37-64.


South Korea's cinema has recently enjoyed a Golden Age that has opened up new spaces for creative and cultural expression in Korea and probably in the larger Asia-Pacific region. Domestic market share of local films, lucrative pre-sales, a robust screen quota and fresh genre-bending narratives and styles have attracted admiration in Korea and abroad. However, since its peak of success in late 2005 and early 2006, extreme competition between domestic films, piracy and illegal downloading, halving of the screen quota and the erosion of ancillary markets have impacted on the industry's ability to sustain vitality and profitability. Among the challenges facing the next decade of growth in the Asia-Pacific is 'censorship' which was supposed to have been eliminated in Korea in 1996 by a change in government policy. A case study of Im Sang- soo's The President's Last Bang (2005) illustrates how a representative 386 Generation filmmaker has encountered and resisted startling attempts to suppress freedom of expression. A theoretical framework for exposing and opposing intimidation in defamation and censorship struggles is applied to this case, and the methods used by each side to attain their goals are analyzed. It is hoped this analysis will stimulate a deeper understanding of how Korea;s nascent national cinema engages with sensitive social issues as part of its transformation from a national to a supranational cinema, or what we might call 'Planet Hallyuwood' - the fusing of Hallyu (Korean Wave) and Hollywood.