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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea: The Puppetmaster
and Chihwaseon
Kim Soyoung
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To cite this Article Soyoung, Kim(2008)'Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea: The Puppetmaster and
Chihwaseon',Inter-Asia Cultural Studies,9:2,195 210
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Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Volume 9, Number 2, 2008

ISSN 14649373 Print/ISSN 14698447 Online/08/02019516 2008 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/14649370801965570

Postcolonial lm historiography in Taiwan and South Korea:

The
Puppetmaster

and

Chihwaseon

KIM Soyoung

Taylor and Francis

ABSTRACT

This essay is concerned with the ways in which postcolonial historiography is inscribed
in cinema. Two representative films of Taiwan and South Korea, The

Puppetmaster

by Hou
Hsiao-Hsien

1

and

Chihwaseon

by Im Kwontaek are compared, not only to understand the work-
ing of de-colonization in the cinematic apparatus but also to understand the impact, effects of colo-
nial history. The notion of postcolonial filmmaking as an alternative construction of the archive is
evoked to locate film practice in the intersecting spaces of repository, historiography, cinematic
representation and social memory. Hence, these two films are cited as instances of illuminating
retrospection on fractured pasts, the almost-invisible archive and the future cinematically envi-
sioned by suggesting a sustainable postcolonial episteme in the age of global spectatorship.

K

EYWORDS

: postcolonial film historiography, filmmaking as an archival practice,
comparative film studies

Filmmaking as postcolonial archival
practice

As a prominent constituent of New Taiwan
cinema, the films of Hou Hsiao-Hsien
have illuminated ways in which modern
Taiwanese history can be re-encountered
and how postcolonial historiography is
inscribed within film.

The Puppetmaster

(1993) is Hou Hsiao-Hsiens first Taiwan/
Japan co-production film, and it largely
deals with the Japanese occupation era. It is
a part of Hou Hsiao-Hsiens Taiwan trilogy
on Taiwanese modern history, which is
composed of

A City of Sadness

(1989) and

Good Men, Good Women

(1995). When asked
about how he came to make such a trilogy,
he stated that it was to interrogate the origin
and the founding structure of Taiwan as a
modern nation.

2

The opening sequence of

The Puppetmaster

deals with two beginnings;
the onset of Japanese rule over Taiwan and
the birth of a great puppeteer named Lee
Tien Lu. The juxtaposition of these two
origins and their respective developments
serve as one of the narrative drives of the
film. The double exposures and the inter-
weaving of official and personal histories
compose a complex and contradictory trajec-
tory of the impact and effects of colonial
history. Dealing with the text, it will be
useful to see what it means to look at the
works of Hou Hsiao-Hsien in the South
Korean context as his films should offer a
way in which the effects of Japanese colo-
nialism in the region should be re-visited.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien is highly regarded as
the master of Asian cinema by South
Korean cinephiles and filmmakers alike.
Two master classes on Hou Hsiao-Hsien
were held as part of the Pusan International
Film Festival and Seoul Art Cinema in
2004 and 2005 respectively. Thanks to his
influential presence as a representative
Asian filmmaker, one can easily find
engaged comments on his films on websites
in Korean as well as in film journals and
magazines. Most attention is paid to his
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Kim Soyoung

signature style of long takes, long shots and
frontal shots being a distinct marker of an
Asian Master. Apart from the appraisal and
appreciation of the style, one of the most
intriguing responses is how to understand
the life of Lee Tien Lu as represented in

The
Puppetmaster

. It is argued that his status as a
living national treasure

3

in Taiwan would
be unthinkable in South Korea.

4

The career
of Lee Tien Lu as a recipient of the national
heritage award and his previous appearance
as a grandfather figure in

Dust in the Wind

(1986),

Daughter of the Nile

(1987) and

A
City of Sadness

(1989) is well noted. It is
suggested that a character such as Lee Tien
Lus would be immediately perceived as a
traitor, complicit with Japanese colonialism,
owing to his service as a propaganda
puppet theater performer during the colo-
nial era. The postcolonial Korean history is
severely troubled by the unresolved tension
of anti-Japan policy, which manifested itself
as a prohibition of the importing of Japanese
popular culture until the late 1990s and an
incomplete dethronement of Korean colo-
nial traitors known as Chin-Il-Pa (pro-
Japan collaborators) high ranking officials,
policemen, cultural elites, landowners and
entrepreneurs whose ruling power have
been continuously utilized by the postcolo-
nial government of Lee Seung Man backed
by the US government.
In this context, it is indeed very challeng-
ing to depict a person such as Lee Tien Lu in
South Korean cinema with due respect, not
to mention the title of a living national trea-
sure. The closest example recently engen-
dered in Korean cinema is a big budget film

Blue Swallowtail

(

Cheungyeon

, 2005), whose
heroine is the first woman aviator, Park
Kyongwon. She was represented as inevita-
bly caught up with Japanese modern educa-
tional institutions in pursuit of a career as a
professional aviator. Slightly sidestepping a
thorny but a repeated sentiment of anti-colo-
nial and nationalist rage, the film in its proto-
feminist tone focuses on the sisterly friend-
ship and affiliation of the heroine of

Chongyeon

and a Japanese woman aviator.
Even before its release, the film was subject
to heavy criticism in the internet movie
review section for the films arguably benign
perspective on the life of the first woman
aviator. The box office result was disastrous.
In the popular imagination, pro-Japan
collaborators do not deserve an alternative
perspective other than a full condemnation.
The protagonist, being an actual New
Woman, also played a significant role in the
massive disavowal of the film prior to its
release. The comments of

The Puppetmaster

found on internet discussion rooms, seem to
observe and ponder about different attitudes
towards a putative Chinilpa or pro-Japan
(shinnichi). These views are somewhat in
accordance with Leo Chings comment:

Despite, or precisely because of, the
tumultuous relation between colonial
Taiwan and mainland China, there is a
disconcerting but commonly held
impression about Taiwanese reactions
to Japanese colonialism. Unlike the
Koreans, who vehemently detested and
tenaciously opposed the Japanese and
their colonial occupation, the Taiwanese
speak of modernization and develop-
ment. This diametrically opposing view
of Japan and its colonial rule, despite
substantial documentation of resistance
and collaboration in both colonies,
remains the commonsense and
plebian understanding of the differ-
ence between Korea and the neo-colo-
nial psychology of Taiwanese nativism.
Although the supposed contrast
between colonial Taiwan and colonial
Korea has more to do with their respec-
tive precolonial and postcolonial histo-
ries than Japanese rule per se, it is
undeniable that Japanese colonialism
has had a profound impact on the
subsequent developments of these
former colonies. (Ching 2001: 89)

In an interview, Hou Hsiao-Hsien provides
an explanation why many native Taiwanese
were nostalgic for the Japanese period
(Rayns 1989/1990). It was a rule of the
brutal general, Chen Yi, sent by Chiang Kai-
Shek that led to the February 28 massacre in
1947 and the imposition of martial law.
Noting the difference of pre-colonial and
postcolonial conditions of Taiwan and Korea
and taking up

The Puppetmaster

as an instance
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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea

197
of postcolonial film historiography, I would
like to enter an oblique counterpart,

Cheeh-
waseon

(2002), a South Korean film made by
Im Kwontaek, in an effort to engage with a
notion of postcolonial film historiography at
work in Taiwan and South Korea. The above-
mentioned difference is also manifested in
postcolonial trajectories of representing
historical trauma. Observing diverse mani-
festations of a certain blockage in thinking
forward and backward in terms of modernity
at work in Korean cinema, including a recur-
rence of a final freeze frame, a cultural
constellation and global reception and
dissemination just prior to a sudden take-off
of the Korean wave in 2000, it is argued that
the contradiction of Korean modernity
coupled with Japanese colonial rule are
among the causes of such a blockage
(Willemen 2002). Furthermore, the state
violence in the postcolonial era, such as the
4/3 incident of 1948 in Jeju island, indeed
takes Kim Seong-naes metaphor of Mourn-
ing Korean modernity as an apt and piercing
one (Kim 2000). The metaphor is used to
evoke both colonial modernity and state
modernization. This aspect might also work
for Taiwanese modernity. The third film of
Hou Hsiao-Hsiens Taiwan trilogy,

Good
Man, Good Woman

in particular reflects quite
intensely on the 28 February 1947 incident
and 1950 white terror but the events are not
translated into and insurmountable trauma
and impossible blockage in the film. It is,
rather, acting out and working through the
process of employing an actress to enter into
contact with the past by taking up the role of
a leftist.
Whereas the antagonism was geared
toward Mainland China in postcolonial
Taiwan, South Koreas main target was
Japan. The military regime mobilized popu-
lar anti-Japanese feelings as a nationalistic
platform for nation-building, although the
state barely launched the crucial task of
removing the colonial elites from the state
apparatus. This kind of contradictory
move has generated a certain impasse in
constructing a critical postcolonial narrative.
Moreover, the neo-colonial dominance of
the US in South Korea after the Korean
War consumed a critical energy that should
be spent on de-colonization. Some continen-
tal action movies (a.k.a Manchu Western)
made during 1960s and 1970s, however,
gesture at parodying hyper-national and
hyper-masculine elements in anti-Japanese
nationalist discourse propagated by the mili-
tary regime (Kim 2006). The excess in the
anti-Japan discourse becomes an object of
sarcasm.
Similar to

The Puppetmaster

, which is
based on the true life story of Lee Tien Lu,

Chihwaseon

(2002) deals with a well known
painter named Jang Seung-ub (18431897), a
painter active in the final days of the Joseon
dynasty. The director of the film, Im Kwon-
taek, represents South Korean cinema as the
national (Kukmin) director. His status both
as globally and nationally representative
director in South Korea can be compared to
the one of Hou Hsiao-Hsien in Taiwan. The
two films, despite their obvious differences
a mode of address and a mode of exhibi-
tion offer something in common; that is, to
reconstruct a historical reference point
through tracing the real lives of two
masters of their respective cultures tradi-
tional art forms puppet theater and paint-
ing who have met the challenges of the
advent of imperialism and disintegration of
the past. As Fanon observes, the brutal
destruction of system of reference
matched by sacking cultural patterns
values are flaunted, crushed emptied
(Fanon 1970: 3341, re-quoted from Haroo-
tunian 2004) is foregrounded in

Chihwaseon

,
drenched in the forces of imperialism, capi-
talism and colonialism. With scarce refer-
ence materials and haunting epistemic
violence, one needs an inspiration and
imagination to reconstruct the past that
would offer graspable, indexical and
symbolic historical moments. Hence, these
filmmakers put their efforts into construct-
ing the virtual archive on the screen rather
than simply using the existing archival foot-
age in their works. They create period
pieces from the colonial period. Unlike
spectacular period pieces coming from the
former empire, the postcolonial period
pieces tend to represent the perished.
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Kim Soyoung

Here, what archive means is not just
historical repositories but a complex of
structures, processes and epistemologies
situated at a critical point of intersection
between scholarship, cultural practices,
politics and technologies In the broadest
sense, archives thus embody artifacts of
culture that endure as signifiers of who we
are and why? (Blouin and Rosenberg 2006:
preface ).
And it is precisely this fractured
complex of structures and processes and
epistemic violence and identification of
troubles that these two film makers are
engaged with as postcolonial archivists.
With archival reconstruction from the ruins
via filmmaking, what should be thrown into
relief is the fact that two countries like
Taiwan and South Korea have become the
so-called Four Dragons of East Asia. The
economic growth has also enabled the states
of Taiwan and South Korea to protect the
film industry as keeper of national cultural
values. The Korean Film commission has
helped to distribute Korean films to global
art-house theaters and film festivals by
subsidizing the fees of subtitling and the
travel costs. The Taiwanese New Wave case
is well illustrated in an essay called Taiwan
New Cinema, or a Global Nativism? (Chen
2006). In the essay, Chen criticizes the collab-
oration between Taiwan New Cinema and
government organizations (the Ministry of
Defense in a case of

All for Tomorrow

[1988]).
Considering this context, both films should
be looked at as an unexpected composite
produced out of colonial debris and postco-
lonial capital, a government policy for
constructing nationalistic cinema and as
being implicated under the gaze of a global
spectator. The postcolonial historiography
and archiving practice employed in the films
are fortified by advanced cinematic technol-
ogy, state apparatus, cultural capital and
global spectatorship. These four factors
colonial debris, capital, a state policy and a
global circuit are are crucial constituents of
the two films. Therefore, the postcolonial
archive is being set up in the pursuit of the
untainted pre-colonial origin in a grave
outcry against epistemic violence, and it is
crisscrossed by the fever and the sickness of
the archive, which is something to do with
the establishment of state power and author-
ity the feverish desire, a kind of sickness
unto death for the archive (Steedman 2006).
Despite the fact that Im Kwon Taeks
filmmaking career far precedes the emer-
gence of the Korean wave in 2000s (he
started making films in the 1960s), the global
recognition of his films should be perceived
as an effect. After all

Chihwaseon

is the first
Korean film that garnered a major directors
award in the Cannes International Film
Festival (2000).
Some of Im Kwontaeks films, such as

Chihwaseon

, are taken as an illustration of
the minor modalities of Korean class
expression, non-official voice and regional
contention as well as global period pieces
summarizing aspects of Korean film history
for an international market (Wilson 2007).
The two films will be seen with an
insight gleaned from postcolonial historiog-
raphy, as subaltern historiography that
subscribes firstly to a relative separation of
the history of power from any universalist
histories of capital and secondly to a
critique of the nation-form and to an interro-
gation of the relationship between power
and knowledge (hence of the archive itself
and hence of history as form of knowledge)
(Chakrabarty 2000: 15). Taking a cue from
an interrogation of the archive and history
as a form of knowledge, I would also like to
present this mode of filmmaking as a kind
of alternative archival practice that redeems
the ruined and empty shelves of the postco-
lonial archive by recreating and re-engaging
the precarious and nearly suppressed past.

Almost lifelike in

The Puppetmaster

Following the credit title,

The Puppetmaster

employs the following inter-title: the treaty
of Shimonoseki signed by the Manchu
Government in 1895 ceded Taiwan and
Pescadores to Japan. Subsequently Japan
controlled Taiwan for 50 years until the end
of the world war. With an exclamation of
here comes the baby! one sees a baby Tien
Lu. Upon his arrival, the grandfather utters
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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea

199
a sentence let grandpa hold you. This is
followed by an off-screen narrator (soon
revealed to be the old Lee Tien Lu), who
delivers the following lines: To speak of
mans fortunes, my father was married into
my mothers house losing his own family
name. As the film introduces the narrators
voice, it suppresses other sound sources
except the puppet theater music. The narra-
tor relates further; he is advised by a
fortune-teller that he should call his mother
aunt and his father uncle. Failure to do so,
the fortune-teller warns, would bring dire
consequences. According to the registration
system set up during the Japanese occupa-
tion era, Tien Lus birth has to be reported
within a month. Due to the condition of his
fathers marriage, Tien Lu should adopt his
maternal family name. Accordingly he is
named as Lee Tien Lu instead of Ko Tienlu.

5

This is a practice called Zhuei-Xu (man
married to his wifes family) which is
repeated in the film as Li Tien Lu later
marries into his wifes family.
The beginning sequence ends as Lee
Tienlu remarks: So thats how I was born.
Then the outdoor puppet show follows.
Hence, in the beginning, one observes the
sequence concerning the birth and
the naming of a child who will soon assume
the role of the films protagonist. What is
uncanny about the sequence is that it is none
other than Tien Lu, who makes his real
appearance later in the film as an old man,
who makes a statement like This is how
I was born. As it is impossible to watch and
even to recollect ones own birth prepara-
tions, it appears as a contrived reconstruc-
tion driven by a quest for origin.
In Fantasy and the Origins of Sexuality,
Jean Laplanche and Jean Bertrand Pontalis
cite Freud who defines these scenes from
earliest infancy, these true scenes, as
Urzenen (original or primal scenes)
(Laplanche and Pontalis 1989). The primal
scenes are constructed in the sequence of

The
Puppetmaster

such that a preceding scene is
marked by the inter-title that spells out the
status of Taiwan as a Japanese colony. The
scene staging the puppet troupe perfor-
mance follows it. The non-diegetic sound
from the puppet theater wraps the credit title
and the inter-title scene but recedes into the
background as Tienlu starts his narration.
The sound returns to the performance scene
later. The films narrative voice is carried
from the beginning to the end by Tienlu
himself. The aural sphere of the film is
governed by the old Tienlus voiceover and
the loud conversation of his family and the
puppet stage. Lee Tien Lu is a narrator of the
film but he simultaneously hears the noise
made by his grandfather and his acquaintan-
ces. His voiceover is provoked by his mater-
nal grandfathers saying let grandpa hold
you. The overlaid aural sphere of the music,
the noise and the voiceover claims its pres-
ence along with the narrative and visuals of
the film. Lee Tienlu mentions that the
fortune-teller predicted his tough fortune,
which has brought about his misinterpella-
tion. The family registration rule set up
during the Japanese occupation, which
requires the birth report within a month, also
played a major role. The films handling of
the situation only suggests, without directly
foregrounding, the antagonism between the
Taiwanese traditional foretelling and the
allegedly modern system of registration
imposed by the Japanese. The consistent
aural presence of the puppet stage perfor-
mance on the sound track tends to subdue an
evocation of this antithetic binary between
the pre-modern and the modern and
between the Chinese/Taiwanese and the
Japanese. It is fair to say that a set of allusions
and reticence is a discursive modality of the
film. Precisely because of the seemingly reti-
cent and non-clamoring representation of
colonial rule and its impact, one arrives at a
point of quizzical wondering why the film
forcefully introduces the aforementioned
official declaration of the treaty of
Shimonoseki in the opening sequence. In
contrast with the coming of the colonial rule,
the following sequence opens with the cele-
bratory announcement of a birth of Tien Lu.
The notion of the displacement is,
however, recurrently played out. Tien Lus
family name is displaced from Ko to Lee
and the his parents should be called as uncle
and aunt. Furthermore, there is the political
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Kim Soyoung

displacement of Taiwan as a Japanese
colony. It might usually be the case that this
kind of superimposition of the personal and
the political displacement in the introduc-
tory sequence tends to function as a vehicle
provoking traumatic effects in other
instances. The temporal interplay between
the birth of a future puppet master to be a
National Living Treasure and the begin-
ning of the colonial modern is likely to
suggest irony. The film, however, does not
rush to highlight the suggestive innuendos.
The series of displacements played out are
interestingly evocative of a dream-work. At
first glance, it is very tempting to read the
beginning of the film, in particular, as a
dream-work as it touches upon the origins
of subjectivity surrounded by the aural
sphere and the modulation of the lighting,
from the key light to the low-key ambient
light. Or the Chinese title of the film itself
can be almost grasped as an allusion to The
Butterfly Dream by Zhuang Zi.
Interestingly enough,

The Puppetmaster

seems almost entangled in the above
framework of a dream-work. The almost is
an adverbial force that moves the film
forward.

The Puppetmaster

is a text that is
near to what it could be or should be.
Slightly away from the problematic of the
primal scenes, historical trauma and
dream-work, the mode of thought at work
in the film is very close to the name of the
new puppet troupe that Lee Tienlu himself
created as his own. It is called as Almost
Life- like (Yi Wan Ran). It is named by a
storyteller and literati, Fu, upon the request
of Lee Tien Lu. Fu provides the explanation
as following: Puppets in performance are
like people. So puppet plays are also like
life.
If elaborated, almost life-like is not
merely a contradictory move but a move-
ment/stasis that is a contradiction itself.
Life-like refers to a configuration of a non-
animate medium that somehow approxi-
mates (or, to use a classical idiom,
captures) one or more qualities of the
animate. The -like suffix distances the
representation from the life it represents, it
marks the negation of the affirmation it
achieves. Almost life-like suggests an
approach toward the successful imitation of
life that it does not achieve. But since life-
like is already a distancing, almost is
another one, which complicates both
elements of this compound. Almost life-
like is at once a gesture toward an approach
that is actually a permanent non-arrival.
Read together, the two elements of the
compound stop the mind like a semantic
impossibility. Read sequentially, almost
life-like suggests not a semantic impossibil-
ity, but a gradation within life-like that
constitutes a new range of gradients toward
the life-like that are at least counter-
intuitive and completely unexpected. From
this perspective, even the life-like reveals
two new gradients: the life-like in both
affirming and denying the life it captures
announces itself as a recognition of life that
also recognizes its actual exclusion from that
category. In other words, the appreciation of
the life-like recognizes the quality of life it
mimics while recognizing the artifice of the
representation. The next level would be the
complete replica, which would move from
recognition to misrecognition. Thus, the
perfection would not be knowledge but the
opposite. Conversely, the apparent
approach that almost life-like suggests is,
in fact, a step toward an infinite regress, but
that regression is also already suspended.
Furthermore, this regression has nothing to
do with the regression of the simulacrum,
since the simulacrum is a successful replica.
That all of this can emerge from a reflection
on Hou Hsiao-Hsiens

The Puppetmaster

is
quite fitting since the art of puppetry is an
art of deliberately unsuccessful imitation of
life. It is an art of reticence, or resignation in
the face of life it gestures toward, a gesture
that points both at the life it will never reach
and the qualities of the materials that inher-
ently cannot reach it.
In conceptualizing postcolonial histori-
ography and politics, the template like
almost life-like is telling in the context of
the Japanese colonial discourse, critically
appraised as not quite/not white, yet
alike. It is indicative of the Japanese non-
white racial constitution but a similar
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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea

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employment of the strategy of positional
superiority (Ching 2001: 51132).
The difference between being English
and being Anglicized and Japanese

doka

and

kominka

is crucial. Arguing against a
commonly held insistence on a linear and
consistent trajectory of Japanese colonial
policy that saw

kominka

(imperialization,
the production and reproduction of loyal
imperial subjects) as an extension of

doka

(assimilation to create equality through


assimilation), Leo Ching argues incoherence
and discontinuity in colonial ideology not
only to counter-reiterate the official
discourse of a consistent and continuous
colonial policy of equality and benevolence
but more significantly to note an emergence
of the identity struggle under

kominka

. The
crucial contradiction in

kominka

lies in the
shift from living as Japanese to being an
imperial subject to being an imperial subject
willing to die for the empire (Ching 2001:
89132).
Returning to the template of almost life-
like and also the film itself, the Almost life-
like troupe is disintegrated during the
period as the Japanese war efforts increased
in the late 1930s. The repertoire of the past is
now replaced by the war propaganda.

6

There is a sequence where one witnesses an
actual rehearsal and staging of the propa-
ganda puppet theater. Preceding it, a mili-
tary funeral ceremony is held for a soldier,
Shimazaki, who is killed in the New Guinean
Mountains serving as a radio operator. He
returns to his aboriginal Taiwan as remains.
The Japanese officer reads the funeral notes
praising Shimazakis fight for the Imperial
Empire and world peace. His death is even
equated with the falling of cherry blossoms.
He has truly become Japanese (

k

[ omacr ]

kumin

) in
his death. Following the actual ceremony,
the film shows the Japanese officer deliver-
ing the lines to the puppet troupe in
rehearsal. It contains the expression such as
to die for the Emperor. Foregrounding the
slogan of Defeat America and England, the
puppet theater reconstructs and re-enacts
the way in which the remains of Shimazaki
were used when the Japanese war effort
intensified in the late 1930s. The art of
puppetry in Tien Lus The Almost Life-like,
is an art of deliberately unsuccessful imita-
tion of life, but during war times it is used
solely as propaganda. Thee sequence illus-
trates three stages: an actual funeral; the
rehearsal (led by the Japanese officer);
and the performance. The nuanced tones of
subtlety and reticence that the puppetry
used to achieve are removed in propaganda.
It is not Homi Bhabhas notion of mimicry in
which the affective register should play a
part. However, the film declines to articulate
this semiotic violence with epistemic
violence. The film progresses to shows how
Lee Tien Lu has become a part of

kominka

machinery by joining a reformed puppet
troupe and further accepting an offer from
the chief police officer to play for the new
propaganda troupe. Just after the war,
however, Lee Tien Lu is back on his old
Bingang Street playing his repertoire.
Although suffering from malaria, he
performs all day long to please his old fans
who would pay his performance fees by
dismantling a sabotaged military airplane
and selling the junk aluminum. And then, in
an abrupt final statement: Taiwan was
finally liberated from Japan.

The Puppetmaster

is a film of a puppet
masters birth, his apprenticeship and matu-
rity during the occupation era. It ends with
the liberation of Taiwan. During the period,
the Japanese colonial discourse disseminated
the ideology of equality and fraternity under
assimilation (

doka

) and imperialization
(

kominka

) which is, in fact, another way of
saying to the colonized not to live as Japa-
nese, but to die as Japanese. In this kind of
political pressure, Lee Tien Lus understand-
ing of a relation of life and art as almost life
like provides an immanent way of epistemic
sustenance in place of epistemic violence in
which the above identification politics almost
fails at the point when it almost succeeds.
When there is a relative absence of essential
notion identity and no origin to return to, it
offers a space for a subjectivity to be a step
away from subjection to assimilation (

doka

)
and imperialization (

kominka

) and an inch
away from a penumbral mode of existence.

7

After liberation, people wanted Lee Tien Lu
o
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Kim Soyoung

back on the stage for them. What is played
out is the politics of min-jian where
commoners survive, so that no radical break
could be brought about by the violence of

modernizing

state and civil society (Chen
2003b: 887889). Although this is argued in
the context of state-modernization, this
notion is, to some extent, informative to
understand the peoples welcoming insis-
tence of Lee Tien Lus return to the stage for
them. This space of min-jian can be often
times criticized as a non-political space or a
non-progressive space if not reactionary. It is
a space of everydayness, shadowing the
History indeed (Harootunian 2004). On the
other hand, it is critically noted that this film
overshadows the political awareness of the
February 28 incident by leaning on a highly
mediated representation of history (Cine-
maspace 1998). However, I read Chris Berrys
phrase in this vein of min-jin. He argues that
What makes the Taiwan trilogy powerful for
me is its ability to articulate a vision that
accommodates both

bengshengren

memories
and cultural affiliation that

waishengren

(outside the province people) do lean
towards and

bengshengren

could also claim
(Berry 2006: 156).
Again, this negotiated space of min jian
will be hard to imagine in Korea. Many
cultural elites in Korea had continued their
practice after liberation but it was urged not
by people but by a new government.
This kind of sustenance mode is not
only ontologically driven but also histori-
cally grounded considering Taiwans series
of encounters with foreign invaders Dutch,
Japanese and Chinese. In this historical
unfolding, a line of thought like almost life-
like might enable people to move on with-
out holding on to the essentialized notion of
identity that calls for a hyper-nationalistic
narrative in a call for decolonization.
Contradictory to a common subscrip-
tion to

The Puppetmaster

a film about a
puppet master who has become a puppet
during Japanese occupation,

8

the film
constructs a template of postcolonial histo-
riography that is grounded on a template of
thought of almost life-like which trans-
verses a group of puppet, puppeteer and
audience. The puppet theater appears in the
film as vignettes, center stage, ambience
and transition, and as a main character like
Lee Tien Lu. Before Lee Tien Lu passed
away in 1998, the Hand Puppet Historical
Museum was set up in 1996. In 1978, Lee
Tien Lu retired from the: Yi Wan Ran
(Almost life-like) puppet theater and dedi-
cated himself to teaching.
In comparison with the shock and
disorientation of the young Lu Xun over the
new medium of film,

9

Lee Tien Lus almost
life-like mode of operation suggests a way
of a postcolonial mode of survival and
sustenance in lieu of shock and trauma. It is
also made possible by an employment of an
older art form such as the glove Puppet
Theater.

Chihwaseon

as a foreboding tale of pre-
cinema and pre-colonial era

The background to the film,

Chihwaseon

(2002) is set at a time not very distant from
the point when film culture first emerged in
Joseon. In the last subtitle of

Chihwaseon

we
discover that Jang Seung-ub died in 1897.
On October 10 of that same year, it is
believed that motion pictures were first
introduced in Joseon. On October 19 1897,
the

London Times

published the following:

Motion pictures have finally been intro-
duced into Joseon, a country located
in the Far East. At the beginning of
October 1897, motion pictures were
screened for the public in Jingogae,
Bukcheon, in a shabby barrack that
was borrowed from its Chinese owner
for three days. The works screened
included short films and actuality films
produced by Frances Pathe Pictures.
(Kim and Chung 2001: 20)

10

In the film, a Japanese reporter from the

Hansung Daily

, named Kaiura, tells Jang
Seung-ub that night is falling on the Joseon
dynasty, and that Jangs paintings are the last
flicker of life that is left in this dying country.
The usage of Jangs paintings, which are
defined as bringing comfort to the people of
Joseon during a period of great turbulence
as Jang says The people have nothing to
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203
console them, if I can bring them comfort
by painting fantasies, I will have been faith-
ful to my calling is not very different from
the effect motion pictures, which would
arrive in Joseon in the not-so-distant future,
would have on the country. The prehistory of
Korean films is described through Jangs
fantasy paintings as a vivified version of real-
ity. In addition, Jang, showing a black stone
to his student, emphasizes that painters
should paint living stones, not dead ones.
Even a humble stone must be alive in a
painters eye. If a stone is alive, its dynamic.
If its static, its dead.
Jangs approach to painting is akin to
the role of a motion (moving, action hwal-
dong) picture, which also places a great
importance on the concept of motion.

11

In
September 14, 1901,

Hwangsung Shinmun

(the newspaper) ran an article entitled as
The activity of photography surpassing the
one of people. The writer introduced a
moving picture as the photographed
photos which are put into arrangement to
move. He further explained that a moving
pictures was composed of pictures, cine-
matograph (two compose a hwalhwa a
moving picture), arranged photos and
motion. The photographed pictures become
a whole body and it is the electricity that
mobilizes it. In the article, it was also
reported that the audience marveled at early
cinema and exclaimed at the peculiarities.
What was stressed out in this article on
the early cinematic culture is the following;
the moment the local audience understood
a working of a moving picture, they
wondered when it could be ever possible for
Koreans to master its technology. Upon
hearing this, the writer pointed out that he
wished that he could watch real people in
action rather than a moving picture in
action. Characters are active in a moving
picture but people are not in a real life.
When the fate of Dai Han (Dai Han Empire
existed during 18971910, a former name of
Korea) nation was uncertain under the
threat of foreign powers, people were totally
inert. The activity of people in a moving
picture (hwain-picture people) seemed
more vital than the one of real people
(saengmin). Hence, what he desires to see is
not the development of a motion picture but
the activity of people.
This short article is illuminating to
understand a politically charged field of
signification that is laid out for a moving
picture of that time. What was admired and
emulated in a moving picture was the abil-
ity to move, advance and to endow people
with full vitality (hwal). Vitality (Hwal) is
the same word that is also used for a
moving picture (hwaldong sajn).
In contrast with the vitality of a moving
picture and animated people in it, Korea
and its people of the period were perceived
as lacking such energy. The writer wished to
transpose the vitality of a moving picture
from the actor to the agent of history by
observing Korea in helpless exposure to big
powers such as Japan, Russia, Germany,
America and Britain and by recognizing the
absence of vital power (hwal ki) in people.
Just to deliver a sense of tumultuous politi-
cal milieu of the time, I introduce a scene
which depicts an American missionary
Horace Allens arrival in Korea in 1884.
Fusan, Koreas southern metropolis,
was wholly Japanese when Horace Allen
saw it first, in 1884. Chemulpo, the chief
Korean seaport, had just one fine building
Japans consulate. And in nearby Seoul, the
capital, the sight to see was the legation of
the Empire of the Rising Sun.
As one looks back, these facts appear
as signs of the coming conquest of Chosen.
But few can read the future, and few in 1884
saw Korea as Japans first mainland prov-
ince. Why should Japan have been the
conqueror? Might it not have been China?
The dragon empires had settlers in Chosen,
just as did the Japanese; and Manchus had a
suzerain claim that that England recog-
nized. Yes and fifteen hundred soldiers in
Seoul to support their stand, ten times the
Japanese legation guard. Granted Japanese
weakness, there still was Tsarist Russia,
hovering over Korea at the north. And,
finally, there was a possibility that Korea
could stand alone. The country passed for
independent in 1884. It had a king and
court; it had what some have called an
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army; and, as it relinquished its hermit king-
dom past, it was entering into relations with
the great states of the world (Harrington
1944: 3).
In this description, there is no spotting of
Joseon (Chosen) people, only of the Japanese
influence but it shows a political ambience of
besiegement. In the midst of this,

Chihwaseon

criticizes the existing Joseon painting style,
which basically consisted of imitating
Chinese ones, and uses the painter Jang
Seung-ub to describe the immediate prehis-
tory of film culture. If we were to compare
Joseon film of the immediate future to Jangs
paintings, we could perhaps argue that the
film makes it possible for us to ask what
Joseon films are, and furthermore, what
future Korean films should be. For instance,
in the film, the Enlightenment (progressive)
party member Kim Byung-moon encourages
Jang Seung-ub to paint pictures that breathe
with your own spirit. In order to create his
own unique paintings, Jang must overcome
the limitations of Chinese paintings. He
should also stop trying to satisfy the tastes of
the Joseon Yangban, who themselves have
been influenced by Chinese paintings.
However, Jang does not have many
resources that he can call upon to create
works that are inherently different from his
predecessors. His sole possession is an
extraordinary talent that he can only express
when drunk, a talent thus readily conceiv-
able as a divine gift. Jang does not belong to
the noble class and thus had no access to
education, but overcomes those feudal limi-
tations through the force of his own creative
will. He represents a singular individual
who emerged in the period of incipient
modern (kaehwaki). As an outcast, Jang is
well-situated to observe the new world that
is to arise after the collapse of the old one.
Jang incorporates these notions in his work
and is able to represent the emergent world
through his paintings. Nevertheless, the
problem lies in the fact that this emergent
world is, for all intents and purposes, also
devoid of any hope. The Enlightenment
Party (kaehwapa), which was waging a
battle with the status quo, was dependent
on Japanese support for its survival.
Meanwhile, China and Russia were involved
in a competition for dominance in East Asia.
The Joseon dynasty started to collapse, and
the sovereignty of the nation fell into the
hands of foreign powers. While Jang strived
to create a new painting style during this
period in which the old was fading away, the
new was yet to be born. People, especially
those who were included in the middle stra-
tum, catching a ray of hope emanating from
Jangs paintings, gradually lost their enthusi-
asm in Chinese paintings. The reformist
progressives depicted in the film, such as
Kim Byung-moon (An Seong-ki) and Lee
Eung-heon, a Chinese translator, can be
regarded as Jang Seung-ubs interpreter.
Their role is to explain Jangs paintings to the
viewers in a manner that they can under-
stand, and to act as the connection between
Jang and the Yangban class. This was a
period of rapid change throughout the
world, and tastes in art were also changing.
Jangs paintings are proof positive of these
shifts and

Chihwaseon

throws it into a relief.
The hope lurking in the Joseon arts,
however, was in no way connected to any
political hope for the country. The peasantry-
led Donghak revolution (18921895) had
failed. The attempt to pursue an indepen-
dent opening policy had not succeeded. As
the result, the sovereignty of the state was
lost to imperial Japan. These are the crucial
points that

Chihwaseon

attempts to convey to
the viewers. I would like to focus on the para-
dox and irony that emerge during the
creative process of the something new,
Joseon painting, as well as on the implica-
tions of such production, and strive to corre-
late these matters to problems related to
Korean film history.
Jang Seung-ub, who is described as a
wanderer in

Chihwaseon

, in many ways
overlaps with the general portrait of the
director Im Kwontaek, a fact that many crit-
ics and the director himself have pointed
out. Im Kwontaek has been actively
engaged in the film industry during the
two most recent periods of Korean film
history: the Chungmooro era and the
Korean style blockbuster era. Im survived
the Japanese colonial era, the Korean War,
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205
and the era of the military dictatorships.
More importantly, Im has used the wisdom
that he learned from his survival, to raise
the Korean film to the international level.
Let us look at how Im Kwontaek has been
received.

Im Kwon-Taek has represented a
stark, pathos-drenched and a sublime
image of himself in

Sopyonje

. Im is
himself that distinctly Korean artist
(auteur) caught up as he is in the imper-
atives and blindness (cynical reason) of
the export driven transnational market
that South Korea itself has energized
since the Korean war halted, in a
blocked cold war dialectic, on the
Pacific rim (Wilson 2001: 312)

Critics have been able to discover a few
additional fragments of Ims cinema portrait
from

Chihwaseon

, which was released after

Sopyonje

.

12

Im has helped consolidate this
image through statements such as the
following, I always wanted to make a film
about Kim Hong-do, Jeong Seon, or Chusa
Kim Jeong-hee. However, Jang Seung-ub
attracted me because he and I share certain
similarities that I felt I could more easily
project. What I mean is that Jangs achieve-
ments during his lifetime in many ways
mirror those I have been able to achieve in
my own (

Cine 21

2002: 12).
Unlike the image of the strict, tragic, and
noble father found in

Sopyonje

, we find in

Chihwaseon

s Jang Seung-ub a character that
has either refused to be a father or failed to
do so. In search of the new world, he drinks
as he paints. At some moment in Joseon and
Korean film history, Na Woon-kyu, as the
crazy man character in

Arirang

(1926), and
Jang Seung-ub as

Chihwaseon

(drunken
Painting Master) collide. It is the moment
when colonial Joseon and South Korean
films mesh like a Mbius strip. However,
this moment is quite paradoxical. They
become the fathers of Korean cinema by
taking hostage the very history that has
prevented them from becoming fathers and
from overcoming this irony. This is dramati-
cally achieved, by displacing damaged
womens bodies with moments of salvation
and sublime. For example, in the film

Arirang

, Yeong-jin saves his sister from
being raped, while in

Sopyonje

, the father
deliberately blinds his daughter as an
attempt to imbue her with a profound sense
of the national sentiment known as

han

, as if
our nations history required the blood and
bodies of our sisters and daughters.
However, the moment when their blood and
bodies begin to incorporate with their
fathers and brothers is the one in which they
stop being women and become a metaphor
for the father and the nation.

Flashbacks and a good ear (singer)

Chihwaseon

opens with a scene in which
Jang Seung-ub (Choi Minsik) is painting as
Yang ban (aristocrats) look on. The camera
maintains a distance as it frames the
conversation between Jang and the
Yangban, as well as its eventual cata-
strophic end. The Yang ban praise Jangs
painting, It emanates divine strength, as if
ghosts were dancing around it. He seems to
paint by the rules, yet he doesnt. He
follows and breaks them at the same time.
To this Jang answers, One stroke is worth
ten thousand. Ten thousand strokes in one.
How can a bumpkin dauber claim to ques-
tion the rules of arts?
At this point, one Yangban criticizes
Jang for having wasted his life thinking he is
talented, and reminds him that he is a
painter from the lowest of classes. The
camera then follows Jang as he leaves the
market street, and the following introduc-
tory title appears on screen: The period
around 1882 was one in which Koreans
were rebelling against foreign invasions and
the presence of a corrupted government.
Along with the opening credits, we learn
that the country was in rapid decline during
this period, and that these were the days of
the artist Jang Seung-ub. A Japanese
reporter from the

Hansung Daily

, Kaiura,
comes to ask Jang for a painting, and begins
asking him how he had been able to start
painting from such a low station in life. This
scene, in which Jang receives respect from a
Japanese reporter as he produces a painting
in this low-class residential area, is in fact a
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subtle and ironic jab at the social hierarchy
that existed between those who belonged to
the Japanese empire and those from the
lower classes of Joseon. Jang scornfully
answers Kaiura, Genius shows, even in a
baby! The sound design employed in this
scene demonstrates a well-designed orches-
tration that is composed of real sounds and
exaggerated effects intertwined with the
lyrics of beggars songs. The film then goes
into a flashback sequence that governs most
of the film. In the flashback, Jang Seung-ub,
the boy, is being beaten by the leader of a
beggars gang for having painted a picture
of him hitting a woman who took care of
Jang. Most of the scenes in Chihwaseon come
in the form of flashback sequences. It is
significant that this film unfolds in the form
of conversations between Jang and Kaiura.
Interestingly, Kaiuras role is similar to a
good ear singer (kui myongchang) who
functions as a well cultivated listener in
Pansori. A good ear singer, as the name tells
itself, is treated as valuable as a singer/a
listener although he or she only listens with
a good ear.
The structure of the first half of the film,
which shows Jang painting amid the gazes of
yangban and goes back to Jangs childhood
using flashbacks brought on by the ques-
tions of Kaiura, serves to establish Jangs
position as a painter and his status as a
member of the lower class. The gazes and
questions of the Yangban class and Kaiura
serve to establish Jangs position as a painter.
In fact, in many ways, the Yangban and the
Japanese own Jang and his paintings. Para-
doxically, it is his desire to resist these Yang-
ban gazes and run away from this group,
who are both his economic and cultural
sponsors, that becomes the dynamic energy
of both Jang and of Chihwaseon itself. Inter-
estingly, those standing on the boundary of
this dynamic are the reformist intellectuals.
Kim Byung-moon and other reformists
begin to search for Korean-style paintings
that are different from those favored by the
established Yangban class. At one point,
Kim criticizes the famous Winter Pine Tree
drawn by Chusa for being an expression
of art steeped deeply in Chinese culture.
Eventually, the Enlightenment Party is able
to seize power for three days with the help
of the Japanese. In the film, the arguably
indigenous modernity of Jang Seung-ub and
the Enlightenment Party are negotiated.
While, on the one hand, the royal family,
Yangban and the governor of the Kobu area,
Cho Byung-kap, have financed many of his
paintings, he also exchanges freely with
members of the Enlightenment faction. As
such, Jangs political allegiance is obscure.
Although he supports the Enlightenment
faction in his mind, his life and art cannot be
actualized without the support of the ruling
yangban class. Refusing to stay in one place
for long periods of time, Jang wanders from
place to place, thus assuring himself that his
dependence on his benefactors will only be
temporary. Jang, who plays the role of the
observer of history and who maintains a
certain distance from his benefactors, is
motivated to produce a unique style of paint-
ing. Kim Byung-moon, who takes on the role
of being a spiritual benefactor to Jang, is reti-
cent to praise his paintings. Jangs desire is to
produce his own world through his singular
paintings, not to become a member of the
literati, or to follow Chinese and traditional
painting techniques. Jangs position as the
beholder of history is changed by a painting
he made while staying in the house of the
governor of Kobu that depicts little birds
being chased by a brutal hawk. Jang never
made such a painting of capturing the
minjungs suffering at the hands of the
tyrannical rulers of the land. It is inserted
into the film to present the political position
of Jang Seung-ub.
The flashback sequences, which began
with Jangs childhood, end with a Donghak
leader Chun Bong-joons execution. Kaiura
reinforces Jangs status as a painter as
Night is falling on the Joseon dynasty. Your
painting is the last flicker of life in this dying
country. After being humiliated by the
Donghak peasant soldiers and exiled from
the governors house, Jang throws himself
into the kiln in a manner akin to someone
conducting a cremation ceremony.
The look back on the nineteenth century
found in Chihwaseon derives from the desire
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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea 207
to gain knowledge about the origins of
modernity. This look is also well aware of
the global gaze of the people attending
international film festivals and of those
responsible for the distribution of films
within foreign markets. While Kaiura func-
tions as the stimulus to the flashback
sequences in the film, his gaze and his ques-
tions tend to represent the global gaze and
question posed by contemporary spectators.
Considering the historical blockage and
traumas internalized in Korean films, which
was mentioned earlier, the cinematic strat-
egy incorporating the gaze of foreign viewer
via Kaiura seem very effective.
13
This can be
regarded as a form of self-orientalization.
Another possibility is that Chihwaseon, re-
visiting the primal scenes of modern,
attempts to provide a framework in which
the present problems under the globaliza-
tion era can be reconfigured.
The paradox of postcolonial archival work
As previously mentioned, both films begin
with very explicit opening titles that indi-
cate the historical period two characters had
inhabited. In Chihwaseon, it states that
Joseon was threatened by all the imperial
forces and Jang Seung-ub had to live though
such an era (18431897).
In the case of The Puppetmaster, it is the
treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895 that informs
the political milieu of Lee Tien-Lus life. As
the life story of Jang Seung-ub ends at 1897,
it is not unjustifiable to say that Chihwaseon
virtually ends at the point at which The
Puppetmaster begins. The two films together
span a little over a century from 1843 to
1945, which overlaps with the most precari-
ous and dynamic trajectory of an arguably
pre-colonial incipient modern (opening
enlightenment period, Kaehwaki in Korean)
and subtended by a polemic colonial moder-
nity and its demise. While it is true that
Chihwaseon does not directly deal with colo-
nial times (The Puppetmaster does), it never-
theless foretells and analyses the colonial
modernity to come.
As much as I am trying to look into
an alternating process of reconstructing
reference culture in two films, I also like to
situate my essay into questions of, and
search for, the inter-Asia mode of referenc-
ing and comparison proposed by the Inter-
Asia cultural studies journal group over a
series of issues.
Particularly in a discussion of the endur-
ing effects of the Cold War on the people of
Taiwan and China and North Korea and
South Korea, it is demonstrated that how
the personal and the national come to
intersect forcefully in the post-Cold War
reconciliation (Chen 2002). The difference in
direction when one thinks of this mode of
comparison is that it is not haunted by the
problematic specter of comparisons (el
demonio de las comparaciones) stemming
from a hierarchical relation of the west and
the rest (Anderson 1998). On the other hand,
Tejaswini Niranjana forcefully argues a need
to rethink the assumption of comparative
work and cites an interesting instance of
doing research in the Caribbean as being in
a west that was not the West and teaching
non-western literary texts in the Indian
Departments of English (Niranjana 2000). It
should be also noted that Inter-Asia dislocu-
tive fantasy is a very critical and complex
idea to map out the postcolonial geopolitics
at work in contemporary popular cultural
production and dissemination in East Asia.
It is an effort to conceptualize the historical
and political dynamics of the ever-increasing
practice of borrowing, adaptation and trans-
lation (for instance, the Japanese manga
version of Old Boy and the Korean film
version of it) in the sphere of East Asian
Popular culture (Jackson 2005).
The comparative look into cultural texts
of Taiwan and South Korea is a geographic
move within the East of whose relevance has
been ironically shaped up by Japanese colo-
nization and the US neoimperialism-related
Cold War structure. The conceptualization
and historicization of relevance, however, is
often times overshadowed by a more
pronounced turbulent relation with neigh-
bors such as China and Japan. The dialogue
involving cultural production of two coun-
tries, however, is not invisible thanks to
the popular culture flow. The films of Hou
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208 Kim Soyoung
Hsiao-Hsien and Im Kwon-taek traverse the
social, historical and national form of
memory typical of a postcolonial nation-
state. These filmmakers are also the archi-
vists who create the elaborate sets which
offer a glimpse of the mise-en-scene of the
past out of the postcolonial ruins. The
Puppet Theater and Jang Seung-ubs paint-
ings construct a mise-en-abyme of the early
cinematic culture.
The almost empty archive of a postcolo-
nial state render a making of the set and the
mise-en-scene of period pieces more perti-
nent as they work with less reference mate-
rials. Their works offer themselves as more
like a virtual archive on the screen. Films
like Chihwaseon and The Puppetmaster play a
role of repositories as well as a memory site
of the social and the historical in lieu of the
archive whose shelves are hollow.
Acknowledgment
I would like to thank Chua Beng Huat
and Chen Kuan Hsing for inviting me to
a conference on Hou Hsiao-Hsien in
Singapore, 2005. I would also like to thank
all the participants in the conference for
inspiring presentations. Despite my passion-
ate admiration for Taiwanese cinema, it took
me a long to time to finish this essay due to
my hesitation to write on the films of Hou
Hsiao-Hsien, in particular, whose works are
full of nuances and tones. Chua Beng Huat
gently insisted that I should write something
on Hou Hsiao-Hsien in a comparative mode
(with South Korean cinema as I originally
planned). Chen Kuan-Hsing and I had a
good talk over Hou Hsiao-Hsien in a hawker
restaurant in Singapore when both of us
were affiliates at Asia Research Center at
National University of Singapore in 2006.
Chen Kuan-Hsings hospitality was very
heart-warming. And my thanks to Earl
Jackson Jr, whose good ear makes my writ-
ing in English a pleasurable dialogic process.
Notes
1. Names in Chinese, Korean and Japanese are
written in the order of family name followed by
given name. For example, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Im
Kwontaek.
2. According to Chen Kuan-Hsing, Taiwan New
Cinema consisted of cinematic practices from
the early 1980s to the present. It is inclusive
of production, circulation, consumption and
discursive practice. The directors themselves are
not willing to accept the term wholeheartedly; it
is being widely used both by critics who first
joined the term with a larger population as refer-
ring to an alternative cinema beginning with In
Our Time (1982), co-directed by four of the
younger generation and fading with All For
Tomorrow (1988), a political propaganda MTV
film, co-directed, with Chen Kuo-fu, by Hou
Hsiao-Hsien (Chen 2006: 138).
3. The Japanese established a classification system
in the 1930s that organized and designated arti-
facts from the past as national treasures
cultural property and ranked artisanal/artist
who were still working as living cultural trea-
sures. See Harootunian (2004).
4. See one of the postings on the related blogs:
http://blog.naver.com/sunghyocho20?Redirect
=Log&logNo=80014118945. It observes that
one of the memorable characters in The Puppet-
master is a Japanese chief policeman in the film
who acts rationally. Also in an article by a
well-known philosopher, Kim Jinseok also
observes that Hou Hsiao-Hsien avoids a facile
binary of the victim and the victimizer and a
rendering the victim as a simple hero. Hence,
the representation as Japanese characters are
represented in a benign way, in Kim Jinseok
(2001).
5. In A Borrowed Life (Dou-San, 1994), this Zhuei-Xu
(man married to his wifes family) is described to
signify an improper patriarchal function that the
protagonist father character (Dou-san a local-
ized Japanese term for father) performs (Chen
2003a: 180268).
6. Traditional puppet roles are composed of Sheng
(Male) Roles Wen Sheng (a worldly male
scholar type such as Hsu Hsien), Wu Sheng (a
male acrobatic-fighting lead such as Wu Sung),
Hsiao Sheng (a Don Juan role such as that
personified by Hsimen Ching). Tan (female)
Roles-Chimei Tan (an upright, steady character,
usually from a wealthy family. Wu Tan (a
female acrobatic lead, such as the white snake or
Mu Ki-ying). Hsien Tan (a female servant role).
In addition to gender roles, there are Ching roles
and Elderly characters.
7. The penumbrae, the possible place of a non-
subject which is positioned in the hierarchized
modes of existence such as substance, shadow
and penumbrae. In this schema, subject posi-
tions such as the courtesan, the maid, and the
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Postcolonial film historiography in Taiwan and South Korea 209
concubine belong to the penumbrae, the shadow
of a shadow (Liu 2001).
8. As instanced in There is always someone pull-
ing the string, The publicity of The Puppetmaster
DVD Title by ERA International and Winstar TV
and Video.
9. Rey Chow explains that it is the relationship
between visuality and power, which is so critical
in the postcolonial non-west, that shocked and
horrified Lu Xun (Chow 1995).
10. On June 23 1903, the Hwangsung Shinmun
reported, Motion pictures will be screened by the
Dongdaemun Electric Company from 8:00 p.m. to
10:00p.m., except on Sundays. The beautiful natu-
ral sceneries of the Taehan Empire as well as those
of Western countries will be introduced. The
entrance fee is 10 copper jeon (Korean dolla
won). This piece of information is from Korean
Film Producers Association (1998: 25).
11. Even back then, there were people who loved the
motion pictures, whom by todays standards we
could label as cinephiles. Readers Contribution
I have always wanted to see motion pictures.
I recently had the opportunity to see some at the
Dansungsa Theater. It was only recently that
motion pictures were introduced in Joseon.
I couldnt help but feel refreshed as I watched
these films (Maeil Shinbo, 31 October 1919); a
magazine from that period, Beolkeongon conveys
how these cinephiles felt as they watched these
motion pictures, describing the festive atmo-
sphere that surrounded the screening of the first
film at Gwangmudae in Dongdaemun, Seoul:
Mr. Henry Collbran, who owns the Seoul Electric
Company, screened the first ever motion pictures
at the Gwangmudae, using rented equipment he
had borrowed from the Mr. Martel who runs a
hotel in the Seodaemun area. Whenever I think
back to that time, I remember feeling like I was in
another world. Attracted by the advertisement
slogan, Pictures are moving, Pictures are
moving and the sounds of flutes and drums,
I rushed to the theater and paid an entrance fee
that cost as much as ten cigarettes. On the curtain
were depicted the American and Joseon flags. A
tightrope artist began doing his thing in front of
the curtain. After the curtain was raised, some
Joseon women performed a song and dance.
Then all the lights were turned off (Beolkeongon
1926: 90; Lee 1992: 21).
12. Philippe Azoury had the following to say about
Im in Liberation: it is very easy to perceive Ims
own portrait in this fresco directly inspired by
Jang Seung-ubs life (Liberation, 27 May 2002,
quoted from Cine 21).
13. For the obstacles and repression that Korean
cinema has been subjected to, please see
Willemen (2002).
References
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Authors biography
Kim Soyoung is Professor of Cinema Studies at
Korean National University of Arts. She has
published several books on modernity, cinema
and gender, Trans-Asia screen culture including
Specters of Modernity: Fantastic Korean Cinema (2000,
Korean). Her essays have appeared in journals in
various languages. She is also a filmmaker of
Womens History Trilogy which includes Koryu: South-
ern Women/South Korea (an opening film for Seoul
Womens Film Festival 2001); available at
www.seoulselection.com.
Contact address: KNUA, School of Film and
Multimedia, San 1-5, Seokgwan-dong, Seongbuk-gu
Seoul 136-716, Korea.
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