The genealogy of pan-asian big pictures and the predicament of the contemporary south korean film industry

Sangjoon LEE*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


In the wake of the new millennium, the South Korean film industry began to get involved with ‘mega-budget’ transnational co-production projects such as The Promise (2005), Red Cliff (2008) and Reign of Assassins (2010). Generating such epic films, i.e. ‘South Korea's global project’, has been the South Korean film industry's mandate for years, and would ultimately help to export South Korean cultural products to the Asian and global media marketplace. Most scholars in the field have interpreted the logic that gave rise to these ambitious productions as South Korea's political and economic redirection towards Asia in the new millennium. Therefore, it is essentially a new phenomenon. Yet, this article reconstructs the untold genealogy of South Korea's transnational projects by arguing that it has early and late moments in film history. The South Korean film industry has tried to penetrate geographically and culturally adjacent markets for many decades, although the practice has been virtually erased from the country's collective memories. This article will scrutinize the 1960s Shaw Brothers—Shin Films co-produced epic films Last Woman of Shang (1964), That Man in Chang-An (1966) and The Goddess of Mercy (1966) vis-à-vis their contemporary counterparts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-106
Number of pages14
JournalTransnational Cinemas
Issue number1
Early online date22 May 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Asian Film Festival
  • CEPA
  • Co-production
  • Hong Kong cinema
  • Korean cinema
  • Shaw Brothers
  • Shin Sang-ok
  • Transnational cinema


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