Spring 2019 / LTEA 143 / Short Paper #4
Due: Between Thursday 9:00 AM and Sunday, 11:59 PM Week 10 (June 6-June 9) [Since you can upload your paper
only once, please make sure you are ready to submit it.]
NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED.
Length: 500 words, double-spaced. (approximately 250 words per page)
Please respond to ALL of the prompts.
Please submit your papers electronically on TritonEd.
Missing textual examples and your analysis of the textual examples will result in deduction of points.
No formal citation needed. (Please refer to Composition Hints.)
1. On No Regret (approximately 125 words, ½ page)
Analyze how the film, No Regret, represents gay masculinities from different class backgrounds, working-class gay
men such as Sumin or Jungtae, and an upper-class character, Jaemin. How does their respective class background
shape their gay male sexuality in terms of their education, work, and family life? Put another way, how does their
class status affect the ways in which they live their lives as sexual minorities in South Korean society? Discuss Sumin
OR Jungtae as one example of working-class gay male sexuality as well as Jaemin as an example of upper-class gay
male sexuality (Discuss only 2 characters.) Please consider the following contrastive aspects in the respective
characters and choose ONLY ONE issue to discuss in detail: 1) economic stability vs. economic instability; 2) family
obligations vs. lack of family obligations; 3) social invisibility vs. social recognition due to their respective class
positions. Please choose ONE textual example for each character (for either Sumin or Jungtae AND for Jaemin), a
total of TWO textual examples, and analyze them in detail in relation to one of the 3 given topics above.
2. On Veteran, Se Young Kim, My Sassy Girl, and Sun Jung: Gangster masculinity vs. Soft Masculinity (approximately
Compare two divergent masculinities, “tough guy masculinity” and “soft masculinity,” as represented in Veteran and
My Sassy Girl and discuss how each masculinity contributes to shoring up masculinism and patriarchy recuperatively
in different ways. For “gangster masculinity” in Veteran, please consider the following dimensions:
1)sentimentalization of violence ; 2) graphic display of injuries ; 3) fluid movement of the bodies ; 4)spectacularization
of the body 5) masochism. For “soft masculinity” in My Sassy Girl, please consider the following aspects: 1) feminized
masculinity; 2) seonbi masculinity; 3) metrosexuality; 4) masochism. Find TWO examples from EACH film (total of 4
examples) and analyze them in detail, illustrating how each masculinity contributes to the recuperation of
masculinism and patriarchy in each film.
In Veteran, you can consider such characters as the chaebol man, the detective, the truck driver, and the truck driver’s
boss. In My Sassy Girl, please consider various examples of the male protagonist, Kyŏnu (Gyeonu), and his gender
bending or feminizations.
Spring 2019 / LTEA 143 / No Regrets
Released in 2006
Director: Lee Song Hui-il (b. 1971)
--Somehow designated as the first Korean gay movie. But there were other earlier films that
dealt with gay and lesbian issues as their main theme as early as in the 1970s.
--The director: the first openly gay film maker.
--The best Independent Film Award in Korea in 2006.
Question: How does the film deconstruct heterosexism? Find some examples where the film
made you feel that heterosexuality does not have to be the norm, assuming that heterosexism is
the dominant ideology both in South Korea and in the US.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
Question: How does the film represent the gender identities of the gay male characters?
Most of them are cis gay men.
(Cf. Non-coinciding of gender identities and sexual orientation)
Question: They call each other “bitches.” How would you interpret this?
Misogyny or self-loathing or both? Feminization of gay male sexuality?
Coming out to oneself
--This film, No Regrets, deals with two gay male characters, who are fully out to themselves.
There are other characters in the film who are in denial about their sexual identity/orientation.
--Collective self-loathing of the characters
===Similar to the kind of collective self-hatred and low self-esteem that exists in other oppressed
groups, such as women, colonized peoples, working class, etc. → their internalization of the
mainstream ideologies about oppressed groups.
--Cho and Kwon/Kim’s notion of “internal community building” applies to some of the
characters, i.e., their struggle with sexuality and sexual orientation.
===The boss of the club, Ex-Large, says, “I am a fag [“homo” in the Korean original] myself, but
I really don’t like ‘aemae homo’ “ [aemae moho: a play on words in Korean. “ambivalent fags”]
Question: What is the family situation of the club boss? Is he confused or in denial about his
sexuality? Is he also an “ambivalent gay” himself?
Self-loathing and Suicidal Desire
--Jungtae’s crime at the end of the film: anti-gay hate crime or gay-on-gay crime?
Question: How would you interpret what he says in the beginning of the film, “I give all the
money I earn doing this to my girlfriend. I can suck your dick if you give me money”?
--Jaemin says, when they are having sex: “I wish your thing was a gun and pull the trigger
when it is inside me.”
===Sexual pleasure (which should be life affirming) = desire for self-destruction / death
--High suicide rate among the LGBT population in South Korea like elsewhere.
===Social death leads to real deaths.
The Club Scene
--“Weekend gays”: “closeted,” clandestine: they selectively and secretively can be themselves
within the limited, designated spaces/times → Their sexuality (romantic love, sexual pleasure,
gender identity, companionship) is not integrated into the rest of their lives → Fragmented
--The club is one of the “free” spaces where they can be themselves, though a clandestine space.
Furthermore, as prostitution is illegal in South Korea, a free space = an illegal space.
Class and Sexual Orientation/Identity
Question: How does the issue of class intersect with sexual orientation/sexual identity in this
movie? How does each gay man from different class backgrounds deal with their sexual
identity? What difference does their class position make?
Jaemin: from elite background. Very well-off. Very well-educated. But more obligations to the
family and more social constraints and expectations that he has to live up to.
Sumin: an orphan. Very poor. No family, no education. He is in fact forced into prostitution
when he comes to Seoul. No family, no pressure.
Jaemin and Sumin’s relationship
Question: How do they meet first and how does their relationship develop?
Question: “We haven’t properly introduced ourselves to each other yet” becomes a leitmotif
throughout the story. At the very end of the movie, they introduce themselves, again. How
would you interpret this leitmotif?
Question: Sumin asks: “What is our relationship?” What is indeed their relationship when it is
not acknowledged and validated by others, i.e., the society at large?
Question: His mother says, “I am not as ignorant as not to know *sexuality* [she uses the
English word].” What does she mean? Why does she use the English word?
--The Kidnapping incident
===Sumin and Jungtae commit the crime. Sumin is an accomplice.
===It becomes a gay-on-gay crime between classes. [collective self-loathing + class revenge]
Gay on gay crime: as a displaced violence of what the mainstream society is doing to the gay
community onto itself. The mainstream’s marginalization and oppression of sexual minorities
as a violence to the gay community.
Class hatred mixed with self-homophobia when Jungtae is beating Jaemin up and burying him.
Question: At the end of this episode, Jungtae says, “why are WE always so miserable?” What
does he mean? Why does he say this at this point in the story?
Question: How would you interpret the last part of the movie? Jaemin and Sumin are in the
hole together. Sumin says, “Hello, Jaemin.’
Question: The film ends with Jaemin grabbing Sumin’s crotch as the policeman looks on from
outside of the car. How would you interpret this scene?
Spring 2019 / LTEA 143 / Veteran
Released in 2015
Directed by Ryoo Seung-wan
Historical Sources of Violence outside of Korean cinema
--The literal, physical violence represented in gangster films mirror and shadow the culture of
metaphorical violence and various real conflicts and hierarchy in other spheres such as political
institutions and its culture under militarist authoritarianism, corporate culture, and educational
--Militarized masculinity: militarized education especially for boys
===e.g. corporal punishment in school (Cf. Friend  set in the early 1980s under Chun Doo
Hwan’s military dictatorship)
--Violence in gangster films as metaphorical and symbolic for the audiences, while being real in
the criminal underworld
Representation of Violence in Friend
--Sentimentalization of violence
--Glamourization of violence
--In physical fights in gangster films (the hand-to-hand combats): simultaneous exertion and
exhibition of power and receiving injuries and suffering pain → sadomasochistic
===Importance of music in the fight scenes: directing us how to feel about the fight (cf. operatic
--Appropriation of gangster masculinity as a national masculinity in Friend
===Gangster masculinity: working-class masculinity but through sentimentalization,
glamourization of violence and nationalization of memories of South Korean history and
nostalgic feelings, gangster masculinity becomes elevated or appropriated as national
masculinity. It helps to conflate masculinities of different classes and “overcome” the class
conflicts. The gangster masculinity comes to represent, in a way, “Korean” masculinity.
--Examples of Representation of Violence from Friend
Question: Analyze these two scenes closely around the relationship between representation of
violence and Korean masculinity.
Junseok’s Lesson on killing a person with a “sashimi knife” (1:29)
Dongsu gets killed (1:39)
General Contexts for Veteran
--The film attracted attention when it came out, because of the film’s portrayal of the “3rd
generation chaebol man.”
===”Chaebol samse” became a term, symbolizing the continuing power of the economic elites,
Korean conglomerates, often working in collusion with politicians and bureaucrats, as the
unjust and exploitative ruling elites. South Korea public responded to the extremely negative
portrayal of the young chaebol man.
--Veteran: a crime action genre rather than a gangster genre but they overlap and cops and
gangsters are reversible, especially so in this movie.
Representation of violence in Veteran
Some general observations about the fight scenes
===Comedic/parodic or tragic depending on the situation of the fight
===Has the feel of a ride or video games (more in the Hollywood style)
Question: Comparing the fight scenes between Friend and Veteran, we have a shift from a tragic
fight scene to more comedic and parodic ones. How might we think about the difference
1. At the pier with Russians (17:39)
2. In the office of the 3rd generation chaebol man (40:13)
===The working-class’s exploitation by economic elites (chaebols) is literalized here. No longer
===The chaebol guy fights dirty
(we see later in the wrestling scene in the gym)
3. The finale after the car chase (1:53 and 1: 56)
The cop lets himself get beaten up by chaebol guy first to get the fight videotaped by passersby.
Then, he fights back, after declaring, “Now it’s self-defense.”
===Hand-to-hand combat (cf. Se Young Kim)
4. Comparing scars (1:40)
Not a fight scene but three cops compare their scars from previous fights: a comical scene
These scars as signs of masculinity, toughness, etc.
Spring 2019 / LTEA 143 / My Sassy Girl (Yŏpgijŏgin kŭnyŏ)
Released in 2001
Director: Kwak Chae-yong
Based on a novel by Kim Ho-sik
Contexts + Key Questions
--The original Korean title, Yŏpgijŏgin kŭnyŏ: Yŏpgijŏgin ➔ usually attached to murder
as in gruesome, grotesque murder ➔ A murderous woman? Murderous femininity?
Question: How is “she” (the nameless female protagonist, referred to only as “she” from
Kyŏnu’s point of view) “murderous”?
Question: The film was released in 2001. What was the historical context of My Sassy
Girl? What happened in the 1990s in South Korea?
➔ The most active decade of feminist movement in South Korean history.
Empowerment of women through the ongoing feminist movement articulated as this
allegorical figure, a young beautiful woman who is “grotesquely and gruesomely
➔As far as literature goes, there was practically an explosion of women’s writing and
women writers dominating the literary circles.
➔ The film aims at recuperation of patriarchy through these strategies of gender role
reversals or gender bending, i.e., feminization of the male character (cf. “soft
masculinity”) and temporary masculinization of the female character and the eventual
restoration of her to the traditional role. (Cf. Barbara Ehrenreich: masculinization of
Question: How does the film “tame” her by the end of the film? What are the narrative
strategies of “taming” the “murderous” female protagonist?
Examples of Gender Bending
Question: What are some examples of gender bending in the movie?
➔ Kyŏnu raised as a girl until he was 5 or 6-years-old.
➔ What kind of language does she use with Kyonu, polite, rough, rude, etc.?
➔ How does she behave in the scene where she is drunk? How does she treat him?
➔ How is his speech with her polite, rough, rude, etc.?
➔ What is Kyonu’s favorite film genre? What is her favorite genre?
➔ Literal battle of the sexes: How do the squash match and kendo match between
Kyonu and “she” go?
➔ In one scene, she asks him to change his sneakers with her heels. He walks in high
heels while she is jumping around in his sneakers. How would you interpret this scene?
➔ Another woman Kyŏnu goes out on a date with, he discovers, is using a urinal. How
would we interpret this woman who has apparently grown a penis?
Sadistic Woman and Masochistic Man
--Kyonu’s encounter with gangsters in prison. They beat up on him and Kyonu ends up
beating himself up.
--But the gangsters themselves are all beaten up by each other. A reference to the
popular “chop’ok” genre (chop’ok = “organized crime”) of the 1990s.
➔Remasculinzation of Korean men via the gangster genre or the genre’s overlooked
--Kyŏnu’s Masochism as a strategy of fighting feminism
➔Masochism: a strategy of taking control when one is placed in position of
subordination, abuse or subjected to authority and power, as you take the agency of the
abuser for yourself. You inflict pain upon yourself, wresting the power from the
➔Kyonu is constantly beaten up by the Girl, who terrorizes him, though all of the
physical fighting is presented as a kind of slapstick comedy. Her sadism is his
➔Masochism of the male protagonist = symbolically as representing masculinity “under
attack” by the ongoing feminist movement.
Masochism = the symptomatic articulation of this crisis.
Masochism’s recuperative effect = He takes control over his masculinity through his
submission and subjection to her.
Question: When watching him getting beaten up by her, how did you feel? Is your
audience reaction gendered, do you think?
Her Screen Plays and His Screen Play
--She is interested in action and martial arts genres where super heroes are not men but
Question: How does the “Girl” re-write and revise these genres?
--The Martial Arts Film
--"The Rain Shower”
Question: How are her screenplays evaluated by a production company in the film?
What happens when a film studio man reads her script?
Question: What is his script about? And what happens with his screenplay?
➔ He writes up their story and sells it to a film studio. This is really the ultimate victory
in this battle of the sexes where the male character wins out as an author/creator, when
the female character who wanted to be an author/creator simply ends up becoming the
object of representation in his scenario. He says, “Ultimately, I ended up realizing her
➔The film “steals” the female/feminine/feminist authorship from the female character
and grants it to the male character. Is he a male feminist? (Cf. Wiegman’s reference to
Tania Modleski’s critique of “male feminism”)
From Sassy (Murderous) Girl to a Chaste/Loyal Girl, “Yŏllyŏ” (烈女)
Question: What do we find out about the Girl’s dead lover and Kyonu? Why was the
Girl attracted to Kyonu in the first place? What was the girl trying to achieve by dating
Kyonu? And why does she break up with him?
Question: When she breaks up with him, she says, “I guess I am a woman after all.”
What does this mean? What does “being a woman” mean for this character?
➔“Yŏllyŏ”: a female virtue as dictated by Confucianism in premodern Korea. A chaste,
loyal woman to one man.
(Cf. A legal ban on re-marriage of widows until 1894 in Korea)
➔One of the words for “widow”: mimangin ➔ one who does not forget.
The Girl cannot forget.
Question: What does this twist of the plot at the end of the film achieve for the female
protagonist character, insofar as the idea of “yŏllyŏ is concerned?
➔Kyŏnu = the Girl’s dead boyfriend
➔Her obsession with “fate” (unmyŏng): her being reinserted into the Confucian
doctrine of chaste wife.
Question: Can we read the female protagonist character against the grain, i.e., the
overarching recuperative narrative of the film? Put another way, can we still read the
Girl and her story in subversive ways in spite of this ending?
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