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Male Homosexuality in The King and the Clown: Hybrid Construction and Contested Meanings

From: Journal of Korean Studies
Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2013
pp. 89-114 | 10.1353/jks.2013.0006



This article explores the cultural phenomenon of The King and the Clown (Wang ŭi namja, directed by Yi Chunik, 2005), a box office hit that provoked local debates about cinematic representations of homosexuality and led to an increasing number of queer films on South Korean screens, and analyzes how the film’s gay identity was shaped by heterogeneous cultural influences, both local and transnational, to address diverse audiences. The article argues that, through appropriation and adaptation of foreign cultural resources, particularly from East Asia, the film constructs gay identity as a contested, cultural hybrid. In pointing out hybridity based on intraregional cultural interplay, this study challenges the Western-centric understanding of globalization and expands the conceptualization of cultural hybridity that has heretofore been understood mostly in the global-local dynamic.

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