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Abstract

This article examines the salient characteristics of two representative postmodern Korean films from the late 1990s: Park Chulsoo's Kazoku Cinema (1998) and Im Kwon-Taek's Chunhyang (2000). Im and Park are veteran filmmakers who developed their directorial careers in the mainstream commercial film and television industries. In the 1990s, however, they decided to turn from the conventional mode of cinema to a more experimental form of film. These shifts resulted in a series of self-reflexive films. Kazoku Cinema is structured in terms of a film-within-a-film. Park's metacinematic treatment of the movie-making process for a dysfunctional Korean-Japanese family showcases his effort to break away from the dominant tradition of the illusionist, well-made film in Korean cinema. Im's Chunhyang unfolds the famous folk tale of Ch'unhyang as a film embedded in a modern stage performance of p'ansori. Alternating between the fictional world of the heroine's love story and the p'ansori performance in the contemporary proscenium theater, Im's film highlights the role of music in the cinema and especially the multigeneric traits of p'ansori. These innovative films are the two old masters' earnest responses to the rapidly changing local film culture in the late 1990s in the wake of globalization.

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