The Death of an Alliance, Part 57: Time to End the Screen Quota

I’m about to go all screedy  about this, but I  can be  brief, because  Robert Koehler has pretty much said everything I’d have said anyway.   I generally write  “DOA” posts after an action by  either  government documents some new low in bilateral relations.  The government isn’t responsible for the content of what Korea’s notoriously militant film industry makes, but it wasn’t responsible for the content of “Yoduk Story,” either.   So on one hand,  fictionalized movies about  No Gun Ri  or formaldehyde dumps get the protection of monopolistic  screen quotas  and government subsidies  (and just in time for FTA talks, too!), but on the other, those who would make or finance  a  small-time  musical  about just one of  North Korea’s  concentration camps  are threatened with prosecution under the National Security Law.   


Run! Yankee baby-killers!


Never mind that nobody has actually figured out exactly what happened at No Gun Ri; the reporters already had their Pulitzers by the time we learned that some of their “eyewitnesses” weren’t even there.  Either way, I’ll go out on a limb to suggest that this film’s scenes of bucolic village life  won’t feature any North Korean infantry dressed in peasant clothing. 

The only other point I would add is this:  if those Chinese imperialists hadn’t intervened in Korea, why, the entire peninsula would be unified today.  Yodok would be paved over  with greenhouses and the streets of Chongjin would be packed with bongo loudspeaker trucks heaped with produce instead of dying kkotjaebi. Why war indeed.  The more I hear the question asked, the more I wonder myself.  Overall, however, I increasingly see the U.S.-Korea  alliance as  a perfectly good idea that’s outlived much of its usefulness, at least as presently configured.

Another interesting perspective here.  I saw “Typhoon,” and I didn’t dislike it as much as this reviewer did.   My favorite part was  the ridiculously Canadian accent of one actor, cast in the role of one of the film’s  Yankee villains.


  1. For me there is a satisfying irony that lurks behind this kind of anti-Americanism, and it is that the sundered alliance with South Korea will lead inevitably to a nuclearized South Korean military force. The American voter will not tolerate fighting any kind of war, much less a nuclear one, on behalf of such allies, and conversely, no South Korean political party will survive ultimate surrender to the North, regardless of how much appeal the loony ‘Sunshine policy’ has with voters. So, in the end South Korea takes care of itself, America reallocates a chunk of military force to where it is needed more. like perhaps guarding the Straits of Hormuz…and that wouldn’t be important to South Korea, would it? They might even find a meaningful way to help out…?

    Lefty emotional victim wailing about psychotic yanks is helping this along…

    I wonder what they’ll do for movie topics when the Americans are gone? There’s always Japan, I guess.


  2. Yes. I think you can flip the coin around on this one pretty easy for even the die hard American educated person who has a natural affinity for giving much ground to movies like this by pointing out —– how many movies is South Korea producing where South Korean soldiers blew the heads of people lined up in a row they claimed were communist spies or sympathisers?

    I know it has been mentioned in a movie here or there — but where are the feature length films gaining millions of views that paint the South Korean soldiers are brain-washed neo-cons slaughtering NOTHING BUT peace loving villagers?

    My well-educated American multi-culturalists will refuse to look at this end of the coin —- but I can at least smile inwardly, because I know it is there.


  3. watchingfromLA, actually their are already a few movies that put Japan in the light of just itching for the chance to attack Korea again.

    I think China would be the best option to replace America if America was no longer to be a villain in Korean movies.

    But really, would America leaving S. Korea take it out of the villain role in movies? Japan isn’t in Korea anymore, but it still ends up as the villain once and a while… (Obviously there is a distinction to be made between historical movies and fictional/future movies.)