Organized Panel Session
Division of Korea and tension between North and South Korea have functioned as main subjects for many modern South Korean films within diverse popular genre films – Korean War film (taegukgi: Brotherhood of War), comedy film (Welcome to Dongmakgol), and spy action films (Swiri). Since the success of Swiri (쉬리, 1997), this situation has provided situational background for many spy action films. While Swiri relied on the convention of melodrama, recent spy action films adopt the form of buddy action thriller genre: Secret Reunion (의형제, 2010), The Suspect (용의자, 2013), Secretly Greatly (은밀하게 위대하게, 2013), Confidential Assignment (공조, 2016), VIP (브이아이피, 2017), Steel Rain (강철비, 2017), and Spy Gone North (공작, 2018). Interestingly, these action films emphasize camaraderie among male characters and marginalize female characters whereas early spy melodrama foregrounded female character’s inner agony. The male-centrism of these male buddy spy films is not unique in the general atmosphere of masculinization of recent South Korean popular cinema. In this research, I will discuss the narrative structure and characters of these films to examine how they represent the North-South relationship in relation to their genre conventions.