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Uncanny Hybridity and Nostalgia Politics in The Yellow Sea

  • Suk Koo Rhee (a1)

This article analyzes the ways that Korean Chinese migrants are exploited aesthetically in their ancestral homeland by focusing on their mass-media refiguration. These return migrants, or the Chosŏnjok, have been received by their South Korean co-ethnics into what may be called a “hierarchical nationhood.” The strategies of temporal displacement, this article contends, are employed in South Korean cinema and television dramas in order to contain the uncanny cultural difference embodied by these ethnic returnees. As a result, a certain sense of belatedness is inscribed on the bodies of these migrants. If this temporal refiguration wards off the psychological discomfort of dealing with difference in the midst of sameness, it may be said at the same time to fetishize its object within an archaic constellation that South Koreans find endearing, yet disturbingly absent, from their highly consumerist contemporary society. In attempting to delineate the “nostalgia politics,” the article aims to shed light on the function of certain mass media representations, including Hongjin Na's movie The Yellow Sea, in the context of the socioeconomic realities of South Korea.

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