In Korea, movie narrators enjoyed the admiration of people across class and cultural differences based on their ability to guide audiences through the many novel, foreign images on screen. But despite the prestige of the narrators’ profession, it was a demanding one. They had to deftly maneuver between what would entertain and be appropriate for the people of various social classes and cultural backgrounds, while also complying with the demands of public scrutiny and the many regulations regarding public order. Although it has been suggested that the narrators had some authority on matters related to modernity, it is unlikely that they were ever able to rely on that to escape the reality of the sociopolitical status quo. This article analyzes what factors determined the status of movie narrators in the silent film era. It explores to what extent narrators would have been able to claim authority in the position of both pop star and colonial subject and argues that power effectively relies on the perceived value of the assets one commands.


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pp. 213-229
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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