Chelsia, Jackie, A Better Tomorrow, and the Hong Kong Syndrome in South Korea

  • Sangjoon LEE (Speaker)
  • HUI, I. (Moderator)

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


Those who spent their teenage years in South Korea during the 1980s will recall the heyday of Hong Kong cinema and popular culture in the local cultural sphere. Hong Kong cinema had long been regarded as a "low-end" cultural product in South Korea, where most local intellectuals loathed it. Despite the objections of local intellectuals, it is indisputable that Hong Kong cinema had a significant impact on South Korean culture in the 1980s. The enormous popularity of Chelsia, My Love (秋霞) in 1977 and the record-breaking hit of Jackie Chan's Drunken Master (醉拳, 1978) converted a "working-class men's culture" into "popular culture for everyone." And these two genres, melodrama and kung fu comedy, dominated the reception of Hong Kong cinema in South Korea until the development of gangster films, the third type, in the late 1980s. This short presentation will trace the rise and fall of Hong Kong cinema's local receptions in South Korea, from the early 1980s' Jack Chan, Yuen Biao, and Sammo Hung to the mid-1980s’ Hong Kong gangster films of Chow Yun-fat, Andy Lau, and Leslie Cheung, and finally to the final chapter, the early 1990s' return to wuxia, with Swordsman 2 (笑傲江湖之東方不敗, 1992), which ended the syndrome.
Period1 Mar 2023
Event titleArts Faculty Research Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar
Degree of RecognitionInstitutional