On the Emotion of 'Han' in 20C South Korean Film


Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
YHW



Table of Contents


First Draft , Dec. 5th 2009
First Draft , Oct. 19th 2009
Bibliography , Sept. 22nd 2009
Working Table of Contents , Sept. 22nd 2009



Definition (as of December 5th 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Definition of 'Han'
2.1. Working Definition and Reasoning
2.2. 'Han' Displayed in Other Art Forms : Story, Poetry and Song
3. Characteristics of 'Han' throughout History
3.1 Introduction to the Feminine 'Han'
3.2 The Culture of Emotional Expression
3.3 Unrequited Suppression of Women in Korean History
3.3.1 From Past to Present: The Variations in Height of Femininity
3.3.2 A Woman's Worth: The Economy of the Female Sex
3.3.3 Exploitation of the Female Sexuality
3.4 The Maternalistic Aspect
3.5 Cross-Culture Comparisons
3.6 Conclusion
4. Analyses of 'Han' Displayed in Film
4.1 Introduction and Reasoning
5. Conclusion
Works Cited

1. Introduction
         'Han: Resentment', a term indigenous to the Korean culture, tradition and people, is frequently employed in describing the emotion, motif or theme of an artwork, music or literature of Korean heritage. Often misrepresented or insufficiently replaced with hasty translations, the word is as ambiguous as it is well-used in describing the Korean sentiment. When one asks for Korean works encompassing the emotion of 'Han', one often hears the reply, 'What doesn't ?' Such encounters are only a very small example of the public's attitude towards the emotion's prevalence within the Korean culture. While it has been taken for granted that the emotion of 'Han' has followed the Korean people throughout the ages and dynasties, the term is being used without being specified or properly accounted for its employment. This research paper aims to redress such generalisations by analysing the social/historical background of the emotion of 'Han', studying where it derived its intricacies from, and identifying its definitive characteristics shown through various media of art, music and literature. Furthermore, it strives to demonstrate that the emotion, as assumed by the general public, still flourishes within contemporary Korean culture, notably within the realm of art.
         The paper works within two constructive premises. One, that socioeconomic conditions, historical events, political climates and the emotions derived from such occurrences are naturally infused within a work of art either made in or focussed on a particular 'era'. The term 'era' here is not limited to periodic classification but encompasses time, space and social setting. Though it may verge on stating the obvious, one still desires to make the point that art is not mutually exclusive with politics, culture and history; in fact, art has been an active outlet of political manifestations or reactions to social occasions, as seen in the emergence of Dadaism or Pablo Picasso's painting 'Guernica'. (1)
         The second premise the research paper reasons upon is that the media of film is a popular, representative and contemporary medium. This assertion is made to buttress the link between the analysis made from studying selected films and its correlation to socio-historical contexts. Film, as a division of art, has been a medium friendly enough to the general public. One does not need extensive education or an academic degree to understand and enjoy most of the films being produced and shown. Films are also readily approachable; as part of a booming entertainment industry, cinemas and film festivals have been popular destinations for those searching for enjoyment. Furthermore, movie tickets are not exorbitantly priced, allowing reasonable access to a wider range of audiences from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The approachability of the media allows for a wide consumer base and a more representative "public opinion" that affects the content and style of movies of the era. The fact that film isn't a static medium but a constantly evolving, changing source with a multi-faceted, complex interconnections with mass media, entertainment and consumerist markets makes the art form a very contemporary reference material.
         The brunt of the research focuses on drawing parallels between historical evidence dating from the Chosun Period to the present and elements noted from films of the 'contemporary era', which in this work will be defined within the 20th and 21st century. With the history of film being a relatively modern medium per se, and commercial film being established in Korea only in the early 20th century, the range of works inevitably falls within what academia generally groups as 'modern'. The ultimate motive of this paper will be to show the manifestations of historical foundations and influences in modern artistic creations.
         Some acknowledgements must be accredited to the Korean Film Archive for supplying the media resources and movie clips studied within this work; one also thanks Jong Wha Jeong, researcher at the Korea Film Archive, for assisting with locating various text sources and sharing his vast knowledge of the history of Korean films. One hopes that such valuable resources have been fully utilized in research and the engagement of discourse.

2. Definition of 'Han: Resentment'

2.1 Working Definition and Reasoning
         One of the biggest challenges in carrying out this research was the generality and the ambiguity of the term 'Han'. This Korean term does not have an appropriate word-for-word English translation as it encompasses too many aspects of the human emotion and does not perfectly coincide with a single English term. One is compelled to describe this emotion itself in a more detailed manner before using the shortened form of 'Han' throughout the subsequent sections of the text where extensive analysis of its historical background and influences will be delineated in. The shortened form is used for convenience and in the belief that the explanation and reasoning that follows forth can prove to be adequate to stand alone and without further English descriptions.
         'Han: Resentment' refers to an emotion that combines sadness, anger, hatred and longing into a complicated single term. The direct translation of the dictionary definition is as follows: a soul or state of mind full of resentment, suffers from injustice, is distressed or sorrowful. (2) Each of those emotions alone cannot suffice for the depth that 'Han' possesses; for 'Han' is too passive and introspective for real resentment to surface, too intimate to be called an 'injustice', is much more heartbreaking than distress and contains too much spite and blame to see it as simply as sorrow. The term is not used to describe simple emotions that one feels during day-to-day life. The instances where 'Han' is used generally consist of intense emotions built up over a long period of time and are often related to events such as a death of a loved one, unrequited love, desertion or incrimination; these emotions are irrevocable and leave unfading scars on one's identity, mentality and life. 'Han' arises when such emotions transcend the personal spectrum, expanding to a general revilement against society or the virtue of life itself. (3) The fact that 'Han' is, in particular, defined, studied and interpreted within a generalized and structured social construct rather than a subjective personal construct partially accounts for this 'generality' rather than the 'intimacy' of remaining within the individual sphere. When it is said that an individual is "full of 'Han'", one instantly imagines a shyly bitter, melancholy, mentally and emotionally unstable being who carries a perpetual burden with her for the whole of her life. (4)
         While the complexity of the emotion has been dealt with, the term 'Han' is still too general to pinpoint to a particular focus in society or history. 'Han' has manifested itself in many shapes and forms throughout history. It has been present in the minds of young souls who died for democracy in Kwangju, 18th of May, 1980 (5). It has been present in the line of Korean monarchy, which endured invasions from outside and mutinies from within. It has been present in the tears of families split up because of the ideological war that separated the North and the South for fifty years in running (6). And it has been present in the lives of many individuals who saw their lives changed by disasters they cannot undo, or do vengeance upon. As shown above, the emotion of 'Han' can take on very diverse connotations based on the circumstances.
         In this particular study, the primary focus of 'Han' will be centred upon the very feminine side of the emotion. While there are other types of 'Han', such as the "patriotic", "rebellious", "masculine" and more (if one were to put a 'title' to such ambiguous distinctions), the most frequented stereotype of 'Han' in Korean history and culture tends to be that of a struggling femininity. When one reads into Korean history and tradition, one sees that such a trend is very much a natural consequence. Such assertions will be delineated upon in the following sections of the study, where both historical evidence and modern portrayals will show relevance to the point made.

2.2. 'Han' Displayed in Other Forms
         Before launching into analysis, one wishes to briefly outline the presence of 'Han' in other art forms such as literature, drama and song, to establish the point that the emotion was indeed a prevalent one in Korean history not only in film but in other media as well.
         Much of the Korean artistic forms had its beginnings in oral traditions. Education was, for much of Korean history, a privilege granted to the rich minority of the strict social hierarchy. The illiterate and uneducated public had to resort to relying on using their oral skills to create art and entertainment for themselves, for they never had the opportunity to delve into the "high culture" of reading and writing. Oral traditions of storytelling, what began as a diversion for poor peasants and tenants to forget about the drudgeries of life, soon crossed the realms of song, tales and drama. The element of 'storytelling' stayed, yet the method of doing so became more intricate as people sought.
         Within traditional Korean songs, commonly known as the minyo, motifs of sadness, longing and tears are common within its lyrics. Referring to some phrases from representative minyos (7) such as

         "The lark that cries through the cold silence of dawn," (Song of Goodbyes, Traditional)

         "The soul torn by unforgotten love, wet by tears, (When the Flower Blooms, Traditional)

         "Don't cry baby, please don't cry / The sun goes down on Baekdu-Mountain / Aha, This must be love / Aha, This must be Han." (The Odong Tree)

         "You said you'll go, why do you come again ? / You leave and make me cry, then you come back again, why ?" (Tell Me Why)

         "A thousand waves crying, bawling tears," (Han River Ballad)

         one sees that most consist of melancholy, soulful lyrics containing elements of what 'Han' represents. In The Odong Tree, the emotion of 'Han' is explicitly stated within its context, making it ever more relevant. However, these lyrics tend to emphasize the motif of 'fallen love', thus failing to represent the whole concept of 'Han' adequately.
         The more complex forms of traditional oral transmissions are stories, tales and dramatic performances. These forms often evolve from a common plot and is manifested in slightly different formats, as the given form requires. Many Korean legends have had their modest beginnings as folklore, then were incorporated to form an act of Pansori, a narrative musical form native to Korea (8), which consists of half-wailing, half-singing performances. Some of these oral transmissions were formally written down as novels for the first time in the Chosun Period; out of many, the legends of Heungbu, Choonhyang and Shimchung have been generally recognized as the Three Greatest Pansori Novels. (9)
         The legend of Heungbu is a story of two brothers, Heungbu the kind but poor, and Nolbu the rich and mean. A cursory reading into the legend leads to a simple fable-like plot that emphasizes the Confucian morals of "rewarding virtue and reproving vice"; Heungbu the poor is rewarded with a magic gourd full of treasures for his kindness to an injured bird, while Nolbu suffers from diseases and malicious spirits that the bird curses him with. However, this rather simplistic plot is that of the abridged version for children, which emphasizes the morals of "being kind" and the inevitable happy ending that must follow suit. A more careful examination of the text reveals that it is a satire against society, blaming the disparity between the elite and the common; the overly patriarchal, hierarchical social structure that over-emphasizes the "first-born son"; a representation of the "migrant farmer" and the "newly rich" classes that showed face towards the end of Chosun Dynasty (10). It can be interpreted that Heungbu's gaining of treasures from a 'gourd' is an idealistic reflection of the 'Han' felt by the common people suffering from perpetual poverty and unchangeable social order.
         Similarly, the legends of Choonhyang and Shimchung are interpreted as delineations of civilian 'Han' against the ruling classes, the poverty cycle and ramifications of patriarchal traditions. Traditional art forms such as oral transmission, stories, drama and song have been preserved and recreated in the present scene, carrying with them prevalent themes such as 'Han' throughout centuries.

3. Characteristics of 'Han' Throughout History

3.1 Introduction to the Feminine 'Han'
         The focus of this research was limited to exploring the feminine type of 'Han' displayed throughout history and art, as stated earlier. The prevalence of the feminine 'Han' in comparison to other types can be accounted by the fact that women were subject to lifestyles and treatment that instigated the emotion more so than did the men. In this section, one will explore aspects of Korean culture and tradition that has limited and stigmatized women's role in society and family. The section will be subdivided into a fundamental analysis of the expression of emotion itself, the various areas in which women were suppressed, the maternalistic aspect of the feminine 'Han' and a cross-cultural comparison to establish the uniqueness of 'Han' as intrinsic of Korean culture.

3.2 The Culture of Emotional Expression
         Being familiar with the national sentiment on emotional expression may perhaps help to understand 'Han' better. Koreans can be differentiated from many other cultures that it is more open towards the expression of sorrow by means of crying and tears. In The Cry of the Korean, the people are described as such.

         "The Koreans are a people strong emotional side. They are especially apt in expressing the emotion of sadness. Koreans cry not only when they are sad, but when they are ill or shocked by something impossible to put down in words. " (11)

         It also states that in both Eastern and Western cultures the act of crying is normally seen as that of females or the weak, and is suppressed by the society. Boys are often taught that men should not cry, and in need should cry silently and alone (12). In western culture,'being a man' often involves lacking emotional involvement and being stoic. Studies show that men score lower on emotional expressiveness and intensity than women (13). Richard Reichbart describes this phenomenon as a "culturally supported prohibition" and an internal one observed through psychoanalysis of male patients. The deeply rooted gender stereotype can even be seen in works of literature; in King Lear, the defiant king declares that he'd rather go mad or die than weep. (14)
         The act of crying discouraged as a 'sign of weakness' than a honest portrayal of emotion can be found in parts of the Eastern culture as well. Here one chooses to focus on the neighbouring nations of Japan and China, as they have exclusively maintained cultural exchanges and interactions with the secluded Korean peninsula since the Three Kingdom Period (15), and still maintain close geopolitical ties with the nation today.
         A study on the act of crying by Kunio Yanagita, a leading Japanese ethnologist, states that the act of crying in the Japanese culture is diminishing because of the perspective that crying is a simplistic method of communication reserved for children. Furthermore, because one of the Japanese folk customs forbids crying in funerals as people believed that shedding tears on a dead person's body would stop him from returning to his spiritual homeland. Even today, crying at funerals is a taboo for the Japanese (16). The Korean culture, on the other hand, takes a slightly different approach in that it embraces crying as a natural consequence. Koreans interpret frequent crying as a positive sign of being 'compassionate'. Many people are seen wailing in funerals and even birthdays and weddings, where professional wailing-woman or a female shaman is called to cry during the ceremony.
         China shares traits that are more similar to Korea's than Japan's, as it influenced and Korean culture to adopt its folk customs of accommodating wailing-women and still shares the traditional overlap today. However, the distinction between China's tradition of crying and Korea's sentiment of 'Han' is made by the historical differences each country has faced, especially in terms of each country's position in their interaction - Korea often being the smaller, inferior nation while China claimed superiority over the peninsula?and the fact that China isn't as united in its folk customs as is Korea. Because China is a vast nation with so many dialects and completely different languages in some regions, such beliefs and folk traditions are not promoted nationwide. Korea is a much more compact and homogenous nation, with slightly varied regional dialects under the common Korean language, and its fundamental traditions such as marriage and funeral rites have spread across the country to be a national trait. For example, while the tradition of having shaman women in ceremonies to bless and protect people against evil spirits existed across the Korean peninsula (17), similar traditions in China are scattered and regional. For example, the tradition of the “Crying Marriage” in which a bride cries before leaving her parents and home for her husband's family, came about in ancient Southwest China, mainly from the Tujia minority populations. While the ceremony is very significant for the Tujia people, similar trends have not been found in other parts of China. (18)
         One will now shift the focus to specifics within the Korean perspective on crying. As delineated above, Koreans regard crying as a natural way to express emotions of both sadness and happiness. The culture's affinity to the act of crying is delineated by how frequent the words 'crying' or 'tears' appear in its literature or songs. Furthermore, the word 'crying' is used not only to depict human actions or bird cries, but the sound of insects, wolves and even objects such as windowsills. (19)
         The social taboo on crying is less emphasized in Korea than is in other cultures. Despite being a nation strongly affected by Confucian beliefs, which emphasizes that “a man should not cry”, Korea does not regard men crying itself as a shameful activity. Rather, it emphasizes that men should only cry for “sacred subjects” such as their elders or their motherland, and that in such cases, the crying is an act of honour and fidelity, not an act of weakness. Putting restrictions on the emotional expression of males has in turn affected that of females in Korean culture. Being an emotive, “tearful” nation and putting limits on men crying at the same time has made the act of women crying a “mandatory” procedure in certain situations (20). Ethnological analysis has shown that during funerals and annual sacrificial rites (a Korean tradition that honours the dead of the family), the cries of the men are short and formal, while the women wail louder, longer and without any reservations. Males have to shed “reserved” tears, especially when they are not closely related or unrelated to the deceased. However, women are not bound by such limits and can cry openly for distant relatives or even strangers. Such acts are even appreciated by the families of the deceased, who believe that having women cry with them “assists” the funeral procedure. (21)
         In folk culture and traditions of shamanism, the role of “wailing women” are crucial in many rites and ceremonies. The “wailing ritual”, called “goot” in Korean, is a performance consisting of crying and wailing that serves diverse purposes from driving away evil spirits, honouring the dead, and providing entertainment to the public. The role of the “wailer” has been limited to women traditionally because it has been believed that women are better portrayers of “Han” than men are (22). The narratives of the wailing and crying are drawn from the ordinary experiences of wailers; the role of wailing women is to elicit tears and sadness from the audience by relating to their own “Han” living inside them in the form of stories and poems. The main characteristic of “goot” has been its portrayal of the emotion of “Han” artistically. It holds significance in that in a “goot”, the act of crying transcends that of a personal feeling of grief but a publicly shared emotion initiated by the wailing women. The act of crying and the essence of “Han” has thus become a cultural symbol as well as holding individual significance.
         All in all, one can observe that the Korean culture, unlike many others that denounce crying as a show of “weakness”, embraces the expression of emotions, especially that of sadness through crying and tears. Hence the expression of 'Han', which is a complex form of sadness in one sense, has had plenty of opportunities to manifest itself in various circumstances and situations of the Korean people's lives.
         Furthermore, the Korean culture draws a line between the fundamental nature of males crying and females crying. While the act of males crying is to symbolize mourning in the context of formal circumstances and in honour more so than with emotion, women are more free in expressing emotion through tears. In fact, the act of women crying has been a significant part of traditional and folk ceremonies and rituals, where its main purpose is to express their innermost 'Han' in artistic forms that the public can empathise with.

3.3 Unrequited Suppression of Women in Korean History

3.3.1 From Past to Present: The Variations in Height of Femininity
         While the previous section focused on the role of “emotion” and its expression in Korean culture, one will like to now turn to the role of women in Korean history to delineate the aspects of their lifestyle and the social conditions that defined them that causes the emotion of 'Han' to arise and continue throughout generations.
         Korea has been a nation adamant in its patriarchal, hetero-normative family structure and beliefs firmly rooted in Confucian beliefs that carried over from China. While variations in its strictness and proliferation varied over periods and changing dynasties, no concrete changes in its position is observed since the period of Three Kingdoms until today. Before talking about the specifics points that refer to the living conditions of Korean women, an overview of major changes and influences throughout the history of the nation may help to grasp the subsequent analysis better.
         This research paper will deal with the time period beginning with the Three Kingdom era, because organised and specific records of the times were scarce before a structured society emerged.
         The Three Kingdoms Period was essentially a development of three disparate societies that arose from primitive, pre-agricultural tribal societies scattered about the peninsula. They adapted new resources and developed effective farming tools made of iron. Such changes in the method of agricultural production transformed a group of nomadic people into a highly organised society. The establishment of government and laws, along with the influence of Chinese traditions shaping a more intricate civilisation consolidated a permanent social structure of colonies and tribes, resulting in the formation of the three 'main' kingdoms (23), Goguryeo, Shilla and Baekje (24). Shilla is known to be the oldest kingdom to be established during this period (inception dating 57 BC), followed by Goguryeo (37 BC) and lastly Baekje (18 BC) (25). The three kingdoms practised slightly different traditions, dialects and laws, and regularly regarded one another as enemies until Shilla united the three forces to form Goryeo in 918 AD.
         In context of the role of women during the Three Kingdom Era, each Kingdom faced slightly different situations, due to the variation in lifestyle and culture. In their inceptions, all three kingdoms seemed to exercise considerable sexual freedom; In The History of Later Han, it is said that “The people of Goguryeo are indulgent, men and women dancing and singing together well into the night” (26), which suggests an amount of freedom of action for the women.
         Geographical differences began to cause disparate viewpoints upon women's sexual freedom, though. The Four Districts of Han China was established as early as 104 BC, when the Korean peninsula was referred to as Ancient Chosun and included areas north of Han River. Many tribes within this area, such as the people of what would later be Goguryeo, Okjeo and Dongye, were greatly influenced by the customs and traditions of Han China due to constant interactions with the Chinese. A build-up of such customs in specific areas of the Korean peninsula began to cause a significant cultural gap among tribes and kingdoms, the Han River as the line of divide. Shilla's women enjoyed the most freedom, as they were free to travel alone and speak freely. The fact that women became monarchs in Shilla?the best known being Queen Seondeok?suggests that women had political power as well as their basic freedoms. While Shilla, located south of the Han River, “were not restricted in any way even as late as the 7th century” (27), the kingdoms of Goguryeo and Baekje faced different. The values of confucianism were increasingly emphasized in areas north of the Han River; the doctrine of Male Dominance and Female Subservience encouraged men of Goguryeo and Shilla to regard women as the possessions of men. Shilla however, did not face the tide of sexual discrimination until it united the peninsula after the 7th century. (28)
         After Shilla absorbed people from Goguryeo and Baekje, it was inevitably affected by the discriminatory perspectives that men held against women. The introduction of confucianism to Shilla in the 6th Century also provided philosophical ground for differential treatment against women. Men began to use the concept of confucianism to extend their condescension against women to a point where they, too, regarded women as possessions.

3.3.2 A Woman's Worth: The Economy of the Female Sex

3.3.3 Exploitation of the Female Sexuality

3.4 The Maternalistic Aspect

3.5 Cross-Culture Comparisons

3.6 Conclusion

4. Analyses of 'Han' Displayed in Film

4.1 Introduction and Reasoning
         The historical “evidence” suggesting the long, complex relationship between the emotion of 'Han' and the Korean society, and the socio-historical context of which 'Han' was displayed, were examined in the former chapters to buttress this current chapter. The chapter on “Analyses of 'Han' Displayed in Film” is the focal point of the research paper in that it finally links

Notes

(1)      'Guernica', a wall mural in the Spanish Pavillion painted by Pablo Picasso for the 1937 World's Fair, depicting the massacre at Guernica ordered by General Franco. (“Guernica Introduction”, PBS)
(2)      Naver: Korean Dictionary
(3)      Choi, 214
(4)      Choi, 161
(5)      “5.18 Kwangju Democratic Movement” was an act of civil disobedience, where civilians called for a constitutional government against one that was currently under de facto dictatorial rule. Disproportionate and undue military force was dispatched in the process of “controlling” the citizens; Though the citizens engaged in nonviolent protest, the soldiers were ordered to shoot at discretion and without warning. The massacre did not distinguish between adults, women or children. This event was lit a flame of nationwide havoc, in which the dictatorial government of General Doo Whan Jun further tightened its rein on democracy while the people were further dissatisfied. ( “A Small Step to Kwangju”)
(6)      The Korean War was the climax to an ongoing ideological struggle between the communist-driven North Korea and the democratic South Korea. On the 25th of June, 1950, North Korea, led by its ideological leader Il-Sung Kim, invaded South Korea. The South was supported by the United States and the United Nations, who wanted to contain the spread of communism. The North was supported by the Chinese, who were afraid that its own territories would be at risk if the North was left to fend for itself. After three years of fighting and no apparent winner, the two sides reached an armistice in 1953, which still stands valid to divide the peninsula in two. (“The Korean War”, Naval Historical Center)
(7)      Choi, 64-66. Traditional lyrics were translated into English by the researcher at her discretion.
(8)      Naver: English Dictionary
(9)      “The Legend of Heungbu: The Plot”
(10)      “The Legend of Heungbu: The Plot”
(11)      Choi, 160. Text was translated into English by the researcher with due discretion.
(12)      Choi, 34.
(13)      “Emotional Expression in Men and Women”
(14)      Reichbart. R (2006)
(15)      A period dating from approximately 57BC to 918AD, where the Korean peninsula was divided into three dynasties, Kokuryue, Shilla and Baekjae. The Korean term for 'Three Kingdom' is 'Samguk'.
(16)      Choi, 134-5.
(17)      “Folk Ceremonies”, Community for Folk Artists
(18)      “The Crying Marriage”, Target Chinese
(19)      Choi, 132
(20)      Choi, 90
(21)      Choi, 149-150
(22)      This assertion will be discussed in detail in the following sections of Chapter 3.
(23)      The Three Kingdoms weren't the only societies present during the Three Kingdom Era. However, other minor kingdoms such as the Balhae or Jinhan were smaller in size, fleeting in their histories and were forced to merge with larger aggressor kingdoms. The kingdoms of Goguryeo, Shilla and Baekje were the most long-lasting, influential and culturally developed out of the various societies of the era, thus representing the period of approximately thousand years.
(24)      “The Three Kingdoms”, Naver Encyclopedia
(25)      Byun, 9-10.
(26)      Byun, 19.
(27)      Byun, 21.
(28)      Byun, 23.

Works Cited (Working Draft)

Film
어화 (Fisherman's Fire). Dir. Chul Young Ahn. 극광영화제작사 (Keuk-Kwang Film Productions). 1939.
마음의 고향 (A Hometown in Heart). Dir. Yong Kyu Yoon. 동서영화사 (Dong Suh Film Productions). 1941.
미망인 (The Widow). Dir. Nam Ok Park. 자매영화사 (Jamae Film Productions). 1955.
이름없는 별들 (Nameless Stars). Dir. Kang Yoon Kim. 아세아영화사 (Asea Film Productions). 1959.
오발탄 (Aimless Bullet). Dir. Hyun Mok Yoo. 대한영화사 (Dae Han Film Productions). 1961.
미워도 다시한번 (Love Me Once Again). Dir. So Young Jung. 대양영화주식회사 (Dae Yang Film Productions). 1968.
여인잔혹사 물레야 물레야 (Spinning the Tales of Cruelty Towards Women). Dir. Doo Yong Lee. 한림영화주식회사 (Hanrim Film Productions). 1983.
씨받이 (Surrogate Mother). Dir. Kwon Taek Lim. 신한영화 (Shin Han Film Productions). 1986
서편제 (Sopyonje). Dir. Kwon Taek Lee. 태흥영화사 (Taeheung Film Productions). 1993.
아름다운 청년 전태일 (A Single Spark). Dir. Kwang Soo Park. 씨네이천 (Cine 2000). 1995.
친절한 금자씨 (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance). Dir. Chan Wook Park. 모호필름 (Moho Films). 2005.
마더 (Mother). Dir. Jun Ho Bong. 바른손 (Barunson). 2009.

Text Sources
Choi, Gilsung. 한국인의 울음 (The Cry of the Korean) . Seoul: Mil-Al, 1994. Print.
Reichbart, R. (2006). “On Men Crying: Lear's Agony.” J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 54:1067-1098.
Byun, Won-Lim. The Lives of Korean Women in History. Seoul: Iljisa, 2005.

Web Sources
Naver: Korean Dictionary, (http://krdic.naver.com/detail.nhn?docid=41454000)
“Guernica Introduction”, PBS. (http://www.pbs.org/treasuresoftheworld/guernica/gmain.html)
“A Small Step to Kwangju”, (http://jelly84.cafe24.com)
“The Korean War”, Naval Historical Center, (http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/kowar/kowar.htm)
“100 Classic Korean Movies”, Korean Film Archive (http://library.koreafilm.or.kr/)
Naver: English Dictionary, (http://endic.naver.com/endic.nhn?docid=2862950&rd=s)
“The Legend of Heungbu: The Plot”, (http://www.countryin.com.ne.kr/gozensosel/hungbujen.htm/)
“Emotional Expression in Men and Women”, (http://www.emotionalprocessing.org.uk/Emotional%20Processing%20&%20Gender/Emotional%20expression%20in%20men%20&%20women.htm)
“Folk Ceremonies”, Community for Folk Artists (http://cafe.naver.com/lmh4441.cafe?iframe_url=/ArticleRead.nhn%3Farticleid=56907)
“The Crying Marriage”, Target Chinese (http://www.targetchinese.com/targetpedia/10118/view/)
“The Three Kingdoms”, Naver Encyclopedia (http://100.naver.com/100.nhn?docid=86071)



First Draft (as of October 19th 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Definition of 'Han'
2.1. Working Definition and Reasoning
2.2. 'Han' Displayed in Other Art Forms : Painting, Poetry and Song
3. Characteristics of 'Han' throughout History
3.1. The Role of the Korean Woman in a Partriarchal Society
3.2. War and Subjugation
3.3. Perpetuation of Poverty
4. Analyses of 'Han' Displayed in Film
I. Dividing the Times
II.
5. Conclusion
Works Cited

1. Introduction
         'Han: Resentment', a term indigenous to the Korean culture, tradition and people, is frequently employed in describing the emotion, motif or theme of an artwork, music or literature of Korean heritage. Often misrepresented or insufficiently replaced with hasty translations, the word is as ambiguous as it is well-used in describing the Korean sentiment. When one asks for Korean works encompassing the emotion of 'Han', one often hears the reply, 'What doesn't ?' Such encounters are only a very small example of the public's attitude towards the emotion's prevalence within the Korean culture. While it has been taken for granted that the emotion of 'Han' has followed the Korean people throughout the ages and dynasties, the term is being used without being specified or properly accounted for its employment. This research paper aims to redress such generalisations by analysing the social/historical background of the emotion of 'Han', studying where it derived its intricacies from, and identifying its definitive characteristics shown through various media of art, music and literature. Furthermore, it strives to demonstrate that the emotion, as assumed by the general public, still flourishes within contemporary Korean culture, notably within the realm of art.
         The paper works within two constructive premises. One, that socioeconomic conditions, historical events, political climates and the emotions derived from such occurrences are naturally infused within a work of art either made in or focussed on a particular 'era'. The term 'era' here is not limited to periodic classification but encompasses time, space and social setting. Though it may verge on stating the obvious, one still desires to make the point that art is not mutually exclusive with politics, culture and history; in fact, art has been an active outlet of political manifestations or reactions to social occasions, as seen in the emergence of Dadaism or Pablo Picasso's painting 'Guernica'.
         The second premise the research paper reasons upon is that the media of film is a popular, representative and contemporary medium. This assertion is made to buttress the link between the analysis made from studying selected films and its correlation to socio-historical contexts. Film, as a division of art, has been a medium friendly enough to the general public. One does not need extensive education or an academic degree to understand and enjoy most of the films being produced and shown. Films are also readily approachable; as part of a booming entertainment industry, cinemas and film festivals have been popular destinations for those searching for enjoyment. Furthermore, movie tickets are not exorbitantly priced, allowing reasonable access to a wider range of audiences from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The approachability of the media allows for a wide consumer base and a more representative “public opinion” that affects the content and style of movies of the era. The fact that film isn't a static medium but a constantly evolving, changing source with a multi-faceted, complex interconnections with mass media, entertainment and consumerist markets makes the art form a very contemporary reference material.
         The brunt of the research focuses on drawing parallels between historical evidence dating from the Chosun Period to the present and elements noted from films of the 'contemporary era', which in this work will be defined within the 20th and 21st century. With the history of film being a relatively modern medium per se, and commercial film being established in Korea only in the early 20th century, the range of works inevitably falls within what academia generally groups as 'modern'. The ultimate motive of this paper will be to show the manifestations of historical foundations and influences in modern artistic creations.
         Some acknowledgements must be accredited to the Korean Film Archive for supplying the media resources and movie clips studied within this work; one also thanks Jong Wha Jeong, researcher at the Korea Film Archive, for assisting with locating various text sources and sharing his vast knowledge of the history of Korean films. One hopes that such valuable resources have been fully utilized in research and the engagement of discourse.

2. Definition of 'Han: Resentment'

2.1 Working Definition and Reasoning
         One of the biggest challenges in carrying out this research was the generality and the ambiguity of the term 'Han'. This Korean term does not have an appropriate word-for-word English translation as it encompasses too many aspects of the human emotion and does not perfectly coincide with a single English term. One is compelled to describe this emotion itself in a more detailed manner before using the shortened form of 'Han' throughout the subsequent sections of the text where extensive analysis of its historical background and influences will be delineated in. The shortened form is used for convenience and in the belief that the explanation and reasoning that follows forth can prove to be adequate to stand alone and without further English descriptions.
         'Han: Resentment' refers to an emotion that combines sadness, anger, hatred and longing into a complicated single term. The direct translation of the dictionary definition is as follows : a soul or state of mind full of resentment, suffers from injustice, is distressed or sorrowful. Each of those emotions alone cannot suffice for the depth that 'Han' possesses; for 'Han' is too passive and introspective for resentment to surface, too personal to be called an 'injustice', is much more heartbreaking than distress and contains hints of spite and blame to see it as simply as sorrow. The term is not used to describe simple emotions that one feels during day-to-day life. The instances where 'Han' is used generally consist of intense emotions built up over a long period of time and are often related to events such as a death of a loved one, unrequited love, desertion or incrimination; these emotions are irrevocable and leave unfading scars on one's identity, mentality and life. When it is said that an individual if “full of 'Han'”, one instantly imagines a shyly bitter, melancholy, mentally and emotionally unstable being who carries a perpetual burden with her for the whole of her life.
         While the complexity of the emotion has been dealt with, the term 'Han' is still too general to pinpoint to a particular focus in society or history. 'Han' has manifested itself in many shapes and forms throughout history. It has been present in the minds of young souls who died for democracy in Kwangju, 18th of May, 1980. It has been present in the line of Korean monarchy, which endured invasions from outside and mutinies from within. It has been present in the tears of families split up because of the ideological war that separated the North and the South for fifty years in running. And it has been present in the lives of many individuals who saw their lives changed by disasters they cannot undue or do vengeance upon. As shown above, the emotion of 'Han' can take on very diverse connotations based on the circumstances.
         In this particular study, the primary focus of 'Han' will be centred upon the very feminine, maternal and unrequited side of the emotion. While there are other types of 'Han', such as the “patriotic”, “rebellious”, “spiritual” and more (if one was to put a 'title' to such ambiguous distinctions), the most frequented facet of 'Han' in Korean history and culture tends to be that of a struggling femininity. When one reads into Korean history and tradition, one sees that such a trend is very much a natural consequence. Such assertions will be delineated upon in the following sections of the study, where both historical evidence and modern portrayals will show relevance to the point made.

2.2. 'Han' Displayed in Other Art Forms
         Before launching into analysis, one wishes to briefly outline the presence of 'Han' in other art forms such as literature, drama and song, to establish the point that the emotion was indeed a prevalent one in Korean history.
         Much of the Korean artistic forms had its beginnings in oral traditions. Education was, for much of Korean history, a privilege granted to the rich minority of the strict social hierarchy. The illiterate and uneducated public had to resort to relying on using their oral skills to create art and entertainment for themselves, for they never had the opportunity to delve into the “high culture” of reading and writing. Oral traditions of storytelling, what began as a diversion for poor peasants and tenants to forget about the drudgeries of life, soon expanded into song, dance and drama. The element of 'storytelling' stayed, yet the method of doing so became more intricate as people sought.





Bibliography (as of September 22nd 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment





Working Table of Contents (as of September 22nd 2009) . . . go to Teacher's comment

I. Introduction : Overview
II. Acknowledgments : to the Korean Film Archive
III. Definition of 'Han':
     III.1 Working Definition and Reasoning
     III.2 'Han' displayed in other art forms: painting, poetry and song
IV. Characteristics of 'Han' throughout History:
     IV.1 The Role of the Korean Woman in a Patriarchal Society
         IV.1.1 Maternalism
         IV.1.2 Subservience
         IV.1.3 Chastity
         IV.1.4 Comparison of the Past and Present
     IV.2 War and Subjugation:
         IV.2.1 The Chinese Influence
         IV.2.2 The Era of Japanese Invasion
         IV.2.3 The Divided Nation
         IV.2.4 Western Pressure and Influence
     IV.3 Perpetuation of Poverty
         IV.2.1 Traditional Social Structure of the Korean Society
         IV.2.2 The After-Effects of Traditional Social Structure in the Modern Society
V. Analyses of 'Han' Displayed in Film

     V.1 Reasoning for the Division of Twentieth Century
     V.2 Pre-industrial (early 20C-1960's)
     V.1 Industrial Development (1970's-1990's)
     V.2 International Acclaim (2000's)
VI. Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography