Session 15: Comparing the Korean premodern text “Chunhyang” and its modern film version, Segment 1
Topics for this session
❖ Thoughts on the transition to the analysis of film content for the purposes of this course.
❖ Comparison of premodern text to modern film: "The Song of the Faithful Wife, Ch'un-hyang" multiple Korean authors writing in Chinese and Korean, 17th-18th century, set in the 1600s) & "Chunhyang" (Korea, 2000), first of three sessions
On transitioning to the discussion of films:
Our work with Chunhyang represents a turning point in the class, as we leave the direct study of premodern concepts and begin to take up questions of how they are and are not represented in modern films. Chunhyang is unique among the six films screened in this class in that it is a relatively "straight" interpretation of a specific premodern text. This simplifies things for us some, and gives us a chance to transition into the analysis of modern films.
Beginning with this session through to the end of the term, preparation is essentially the same: read the assigned material before hand, check the discussions questions for the day and bring a copy of them to class, and be ready either to discuss them or be tested on them at the end of the class session. Read "Cinema Basics" now (see sidebar).
I have elected to screen films in class rather than require students to return to class in the evening for view films. However, this occupies huge segments of class time. To adjust to that somewhat questions are stated ahead of time and you should think of them ahead of time, not just at the moment when you are asked in class. When asked in class, you should already have a good start on an answer. Class participation is not just answering the question on the spot but rather having a good start on an answer if asked. In other words, think while watching the films. This is challenging but necessary for rising above simpleton discussion.
On the types of questions that will be set for discussion:
Please prepare the questions but we almost never cover all of them and sometimes cover none of them. They are, nevertheless, things that should be thought over and do provide substance for your own analysis later.
Questions more or less fall into these categories and should be handled in these ways:
Questions that relate to the general issue of how the "message" or romance changes when the media changes (prose to cinema)
Questions that explore cultural difference in general.
Questions that explore the specific issue of the "status" of premodern traditional values (degree present or absent, degree modified, degree up held or challenged or simply ignored) in CJK.
Suggestions towards analysis that is disciplined (selection of specific topic, control of topic, staying on topic), credible / reasonable, identifies the subtle and non-obvious (Average Joe rule), and gets past pre-conceived notions / presumptions / prejudices.
Request that individuals savvy in a particular culture in particular contribute to discussion at key times.
- It seems to me that this movie is designed to appeal to an older crowd (shown as the appreciative audience), who love the story of Chunhyang, but also to a younger crowd (with Chunhyang modified to be more acceptable to young people).
- What does this "dual audience" mean for core values in the film? It seems to create a blend of embracing traditional views while embedding some more modern values. It tries to, and probably succeeds in, having it both ways. This, I think, is pretty typical of the world of film.
- But ideals remain the marks for actions, expectations, defense and so on.
"Cover" given by Confucianism:
- By ramping up the strong moral qualities of the two individuals, some feisty-ness becomes acceptable. Movies do this a lot: secure the box-office with safe values, then tease around the edges.
DVD menu scenes 1-6 (0:00:00-0:39:00, elapsed time
*DVD menus scene numbers do not correspond to chapter marker number on control panel info windows. They correspond to "Scenes" as given by the DVD selection screen.
Screening details are provided to help me in running the class and to help you cover material in case you miss a class.
The entire film is screened in class. If you have missed a class session, the movie is available as follows:
- Netflix: Instant Play, search "Chunhyang"
- Media Resources Center (Moffitt): DVD 1506
- East Asia Media Center: PN1997.C4792 2006 (but a Region 3 disc)
- East Asia Media Center: PN1997.C479 2000 (VHS, and probably not subtitled?)
Required—to be completed for today's session
Do the below in the order listed:
✓ "The Song of the Faithful Wife" Introduction. On bSpace as Chunhyang-A Introduction.
✓ "The Song of the Faithful Wife" Part One. On bSpace as Chunhyang-B Part01 Scenes 1-6.
Chunhyang is the full translation. This is for in-class use only. Do NOT distribute this text for any reason. You will be breaking copyright law.
Texts, multimedia notes, links*
- imdb for the film
- koreanfilm.org on Chunhyang
- English site on Namwon City
- Pansori (the chanting during the film)--includes sound files and comments on characteristics of this type of singing
"Master Lee" in the film is the premodern reading's "Young Master Yi Mong-nyong"
*THOUGHTS: Reading before class probably helps follow session content, reading afterwards might help consolidate notes, revisiting for tests is recommended. Content might be added before class or anytime up until about 24 hours ahead of a midterm.
*TEXTS, MULTIMEDIA NOTES, LINKS: If I have read from something, shown something or presented audio that is not elsewhere mentioned, I usually include that information here for the curious, sometime after the class (since I often make last-minute decisions about including something). It might take a while and sometimes I forget. You can email me.
*OTHER: When possible I note here names, places, and other details that I have mentioned in a lecture that would otherwise not be accessible in the assigned materials or easily located on your own. As with "TEXTS ..." this is usually sometime after class and, again, I might not be able to get around to doing it.