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Institute for the Humanities pres.

FellowSpeak: “'We Sometimes Cut Good Tissue Along with Bad': Economies of Sacrifice and the Korean War in 'One Minute to Zero' and 'Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War'”

Daniel Y. Kim, Institute for the Humanities Norman Freehling Visiting Fellow

"Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters "Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters
"Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters
Daniel Kim, associate professor of English and American studies at Brown University and 2019 Norman Freehling Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Humanities gives a 30-minute talk followed by Q & A.

In this talk Kim examines two cinematic representations of the Korean War as a way of comparing how US and South Korean nationalist narratives attempt to justify the staggering loss of civilian life that took place during the conflict. At the dramatic center of One Minute to Zero, a Hollywood film from 1952, is a massacre of refugees. Kim contextualizes this depiction within the framework of what he terms Military Humanitarianism, an ideology that emerged in the United States during this period to frame its interventions as benevolent. Somewhat surprisingly this film openly foregrounds how US forces, in the course of saving Korean civilians from the menace of Communism, will also have to kill them. Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War, a South Korean blockbuster that appeared in 2004, similarly casts a spotlight on the atrocities that were inflicted upon civilians, though in this case by South Korean military and paramilitary forces. Both films sentimentally embed their viewers in an ethos of sacrifice, an affectively saturated biopolitical calculus, in which such deaths emerge as a tragic but ultimately necessary price for securing the nation’s future. Overall, this talk elaborates a transnational mode of analyzing such works that maintains a contrapuntal awareness of how critiques of the dominant narratives in one nationalist tradition might reinforce those in another and vice versa.
"Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters "Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters
"Tae Guk Gi" and "One Minute to Zero" movie posters
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