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Sublimating Class: Fantasy, Myth and Ideology in Contemporary South Korean TV Drama

Tue, June 23, 11:05am to 1:00pm, South Building, Floor: South, S1101


This paper addresses two related issues: first, TV drama as a domestic discourse/genre articulating, reflecting and performing un/changes in the relations between kinship and class in contemporary South Korea; second, South Korean TV drama as a cultural export to Asia and its ideological labor for the ongoing processes of national, regional and global class stratification. I will look at several recurring themes that drive the plot development, exploring how TV dramas represent, assess, contest and sublimate class divide and conflicts via heterosexual romantic and marital relations. I will argue that TV drama as one of the few sites in contemporary South Korean culture that extensively and repeatedly confronts the issue of class simultaneously politicizes and depoliticizes class via its intersectionality with gender. The paper also asks how this South Korean popular cultural ideological configuration of class and gender might appeal to the audiences in both developing and developed countries in Asia. What kind of similar and different ideological functions does South Korean drama perform in the contexts of overlapping transnational cultural consumption, racialized/ethniciized labor exploitation and hierarchized global regional development/industrialization?