The paper deals with the category of the Korean yosong yonghwa (yosong = women; yonghwa = film) and the place of the Filipino women characters in them. Especially in film genres where women play major protagonists from melodrama to vampire films, indelibly etched in their narratives is the all-too-familiar set of conventional roles and activities assigned to women, portraying a female identity constructed socio-culturally by a patriarchal society. A normative rather than a merely descriptive category, yosong yonghwa is fundamentally premised on the sinner-or-saint binary categories of a kind and patient female versus an ambitious, aggressive, and evil woman. Apart from the critical possibilities for social consciousness that underpin yosong yonghwa films especially directed by independent Korean women directors in the 1980s, in general, the conventional, run-of-the-mill cinematic visualization of yosong yonghwa is predictably of either the good woman, passively standing on the sideline, in need of salvation, or of the sinful one who caters to male voyeuristic desire in need of redemption. Such is the case of two famous Korean films, Thirst (2009), directed by Park Chan-wook, and The Taste of Money (2012), directed by Im Sang-Soo, top-billed by major Korean actors and actresses playing major roles. If viewed as yosong yonghwa, the limits of the genres of melodrama and horror films, as evidenced by these films, are transgressed by the deployment of generic border-crossing and affective elements, transforming the films’ yosong yonghwa into a narrative of redemption. The very minor supporting Filipino characters’ roles, predictably assigned to Pinays in Korean films, enable the films to undermine the narrative of redemption as they also underline the need for a shift from the topic of yosong yonghwa to the question of the yosong uishik (“self-consciousness as women”).


Ethics Of Care, Manichean dualism, redemption, yosong yonghwa, yosong uishik

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

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

Joel David
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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
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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)
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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
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
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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)