Decoding Korean Cinema: A Pretty Much Pop Culture Podcast (ep. 43)

We’re see­ing a lot of Kore­an media in Amer­i­can pop­u­lar cul­ture nowa­days, what with Par­a­site win­ning the Oscar for best pic­ture and K‑Pop and K‑Dramas find­ing an increas­ing Amer­i­can cult fol­low­ing. This is not an acci­dent: The Kore­an gov­ern­ment has as an explic­it goal the growth of “soft pow­er” through export­ed cul­tur­al prod­ucts. This Kore­an Wave (Hal­lyu) was aimed fore­most at Asia but has reached us as well. Suzie Hyun-jung Oh joins your hosts Mark Lin­sen­may­er, Eri­ca Spyres, and Bri­an Hirt to explore the con­text for this spread and fig­ure out what exact­ly feels for­eign to Amer­i­can audi­ences about Kore­an media.

This is our first attempt to get at the zeit­geist of anoth­er cul­ture to bet­ter under­stand its media, and the pri­ma­ry focus of our immer­sion (the part of the wave that’s not aimed at teens) was film: In addi­tion to the work of Bong Joon-ho, we touch on The Hand­maid­en, A Train to Busan, The Burn­ing, A Taxi Dri­ver, Lucid Dream­ing, Among the Gods, and oth­ers.

We also talk a lit­tle about Kore­an teen cul­tur­al prod­ucts, fam­i­ly life and reli­gion in Korea, the aes­thet­ic of cute­ness, M*A*S*H, and whether Amer­i­cans will read sub­ti­tles.

Some arti­cles and oth­er resources that helped us:

This episode includes bonus dis­cus­sion that you can only hear by sup­port­ing the pod­cast at This pod­cast is part of the Par­tial­ly Exam­ined Life pod­cast net­work.

Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast is the first pod­cast curat­ed by Open Cul­ture. Browse all Pret­ty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.

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