This article offers a critical mapping of Korean feminist documentary practices in the twenty-first century, with emphasis on films made since the mid-2010s. The study is grounded in a distinction between the documentaries before and after this period in terms of the feminist politics and the social actors that these films address and engage. In so doing, it argues for three implications of twenty-first century Korean feminist documentary cinema as follows: first, rather than remaining with little remarkable change, the activist tradition of Korean independent documentary has been renewed and revamped in its continual intersections with the shifting social movements for women’s rights; second, since the mid-2010s, the agendas of feminist documentary have been diversified to the extent that they include not simply the lives and voices of disenfranchised women as a key social subject of traditional activist filmmaking before that period, but also the corporeal and affective dimensions of women’s identity, such as abortion and menstruation, and their relation to women’s sociality; and finally, in dialogue with this differentiation of feminist issues, the modes and styles of documentary filmmaking have been so varied that they embrace reenactment, urban ethnography, personal documentary, and the filmmaker’s presence in the text. This is particularly evident in the corpus of Kangyu Garam, a younger-generation woman documentarian who has prolifically demonstrated her authorship with her middle-length and feature-length documentaries devoted to portraying and recording the space and time of various women.


feminism in Korea, feminist documentary, Kangyu Garam, media activism, social change documentary, twenty-first century Korean society

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)