The Fairy-Tale Film in Korea
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There are three broad currents in the development of the fairy-tale ﬁ lm in Korea. The ﬁ rst, and oldest, involves ﬁ lm adaptations of Korean folktales and legends. The earliest of these were made during the period of Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula and imparted various cultural and political messages. A silent ﬁ lm adaptation of the folktale “Chunhyangjeon” by Japanese director Hayakawa Matsujiro marks the ﬁ rst in 1923. As Lee Hyangjin observes, the folktale expresses a desire for a utopian society through its story of forbidden love between the daughter of a gisaeng (courtesan) and a yangban (aristocrat) (Lee 2005, 63). 1 The themes of the breakdown of class barriers and the destruction of corrupt power represent such a recurrent desire in Korean society that the tale has been adapted to ﬁ lm at least twenty times since Hayakawa’s silent ﬁ lm. Indeed, the ﬁ rst Korean ﬁ lm with sound was an adaptation of “Chunhyangjeon” by Korean director, Lee MyeongU in 1935.