The project to preserve Korean films made spectacular gains in the past decade with the “unearthing” of prints produced in the latter half of the colonial period. This repatriation mission collects materials in the name of the truth of history and the cultural genealogy of the nation. It traverses borders, laying claim to films housed in other national archives and private collections. The logic of the archive, like that of the nation, coordinates inclusive and expansionist drives with exclusive and restrictive discipline. The project is not conducted without consciousness of the complexities of national identity and cultural sovereignty. This paper aims toward a more sustained critique of those challenges, thinking seriously about the techniques deployed in the construction of national film history. It also seeks to supplement that line of inquiry by posing another set of questions about visibility and the archive itself: What are the processes by which films become visible as Korean? How does their visibility inflect their authority as historical records? How does the visibility of newly found films inflect the way we read particular films and the era of their production? In what ways do they prompt us to reconceptualize the idea of national cinema?


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pp. 193-211
Launched on MUSE
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