Early Korean Cinema: Dear Soldier + Chosun, Our Rear Base

By on February 19, 2019

Dear Soldier. 1944, Dir, Bang Han-jun, Korea. With Kim II-hae, Lee Geum-ryong

Dear Soldier is probably one of the most uncomfortable film to have survived from this period. One of a series of propaganda film designed to encourage young Korean men to join the army, the film presents an image of a benevolent and paternalistic Japan seeking to care for its colonial subjects. The film presents an idealised vision of the Japanese military experience which was, in reality, marked with abuse, brutality and racism. Made in 1944, when the Japan was clearly losing the war, Dear Soldier is an ideal example from a film industry that had been completely subsumed into making propaganda. With no Korean spoken and images that bear little resemblance to the state of Korea and Japan of the time, Dear Soldieroperates as a reminder of the awful reality of colonial occupation.

Chosun, Our Rear Base, circa 1935, Dir Unknown
One of several newsreels to be found in the Gosfilmofond Archive, Chosun, Our Rear Base was typical of the newsreels that would have screened before any feature film. Promoting the ideology known as naisen ittai in Japanese or naeseon iche in Korean, in short, ‘Japan and Korea as one body’, Chosun, Our Rear Base, presents a Korean nations working to support the Japanese Colonized. Clear examples of propaganda, these newsreel bear little resemblance to reality.

Early Korean Cinema: Lost Films from the Japanese Colonial Period
It was once assumed that all pre-1945 Korean cinema had vanished from existence, but in the 2000s a series of remarkable archival discoveries revealed a diverse treasure trove of melodramas, propaganda films and newsreels from the colonial period. We’re delighted to present them for the first time in the UK, thanks to the restoration work of the Korean Film Archive. Here you can learn about the stars, directors and politics of this complex and controversial period in Korean history – a time when the nation was under Japanese occupation. However, rejecting these products as nothing more than colonial propaganda refuses to acknowledge the skills, desires and ambitions of the Korean filmmakers behind them. These are unique creations that, despite their background, are the very origins of contemporary Korean cinema.

Early Korean Cinema: Dear Soldier + Chosun, Our Rear Base screening will be held at Korean Cultural Centre UK Monday 25th February 2019.

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Film | Early Korean Cinema: Dear Soldier + Chosun, Our Rear Base