Lecture Video: South Korean Radio Programs in the 1970s

In Ch’oe Inhun’s linked novel of 1965, The Voice of the Governor General, the author connects Park Chung Hee’s nationalism and the 1965 Normalization Treaty with Japan to the nationalism of the Japanese colonial period by writing in the form of a radio broadcast. Harking back to Hirohito’s infamous radio announcement of Japan’s unconditional surrender and Korea’s liberation, Ch’oe suggests that postcolonial Korea had not really overcome the political and economic conditions of the colonial period. Ch’oe’s use of a radio broadcast also points to the ways the state used radio to discipline the masses into becoming responsible, dutiful citizens.

This presentation will explore the interesting documentary turn that takes place in early 70s Korean radio programming, especially in radio drama or radio theater. Along with programs that retranslated and rewrote classical tales and biographies, docudramas based on recent life stories became highly popular. What was this impulse for dramatizing and documenting and what effects did it produce? How did the radio reshape oral and written literature? How might mass media literary works have produced a space for a critique of the state? It will attempt to show that even in the midst of the state’s propaganda and censorship, the documentary turn in radio played with creating alternative truths and listening pleasures.

Prof. Jina Kim received a Ph.D. in Korean History and Literature from the University of Washington in 2006. She is currently Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies, Smith College, and Adjunct Professor, Korea University. She is the author of Urban Modernity in Colonial Korea and Taiwan (forthcoming), and numerous articles on mass media and literature in colonial and postcolonial Korea. At Korea University’s International Summer Campus she teaches courses on Literary Worlds and Modern East Asia.

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