The Center for Korean Studies fall 2014 film series gets underway September 23 with the first of five features examining aspects of apartment life in contemporary Korea. The series, programmed by Prof. Myungji Yang of the UH Mānoa Department of Political Science, is titled “Living Apart? Apartments in Korean Cinema.”
Apartments are a key to understanding current Korean society. As the prototypical type of modern housing, high-rise apartment buildings in Korean cities both exemplify and signify affluent and cultured lifestyles. Apartments are more than a type of housing: They serve as an indicator of one’s socioeconomic status and they symbolize Korean dreams and aspirations. The massive wave of apartment construction over the past few decades has rapidly changed old, disorganized urban landscapes into highly modern, well-ordered environments. Yet this seemingly progressive urban redevelopment process was accomplished by violent and brutal means—demolishing the homes of the urban poor, destroying traditional communities, and pushing the less affluent to the outskirts of cities without any proper compensation. Focusing on private lives in urban spaces, this series of films will show the ways in which apartments have shaped the modes of living and the sense of community among Korean urbanites, highlighting the unique character of Korean capitalism as represented in built environments.
The series opens with Barking Dogs Never Bite (플란다스의 개), Bong Joon-Ho’s 2000 directorial debut. The film follows the misadventures of Yun-ju, a part-time lecturer, who becomes hyper-sensitive to the constant barking of a dog somewhere in the apartment complex he and his wife call home. One day, he discovers his neighbor’s dog sitting by the doorway. Convinced that this dog is the source of the annoying barking, he locks the animal away in the basement. But he returns home only to hear barking again and to discover that he has stolen the wrong dog. Soon, one dog after another disappears, and the manager of the apartment building, Hyun-nam, keeps getting more and more complaints from residents about pets gone missing.
Subsequent features in the series are 301/302 (Oct. 14), Green Fish (Oct. 28), The Neighbors (Nov. 18), and The Ball Shot by a Midget (Dec. 2). For more information about these films, see the full schedule.
Screenings take place in the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium at 1881 East-West Road on the University of Hawai’i Mānoa campus and begin at 6:30 p.m. Korean films are shown with English subtitles. The films are free and open to all University of Hawai’i students, faculty, and staff and to the community at large. Limited, paid ($6.00) public parking is available in the parking lot adjacent to the Center and in other visitor parking lots on campus. For more information about parking regulations and locations, consult the campus parking office Web page.
The series is supported by the Timothy and Miriam Wee Memorial Fund at the Center for Korean Studies. For further information about the series, contact the Center for Korean Studies at (808) 956‑7041 or Professor Myungji Yang (firstname.lastname@example.org) at (808) 956‑6387.