Accepted paper:

Screen Substances: The Mediatized Object of the Korean Wave


Debjani Dutta (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper charts the circulation of Korean Wave merchandise as it moves from the textual world of films, TV and pop music to virtual and offline networks.

Paper long abstract:

The Korean Wave refers to the vast flow of South Korean cultural products—including cinema, music, television and fashion—across the globe. With cyberspace emerging as a major site of cultural transactions, the virtual dissemination of music and images has been accompanied by the online and offline circulation of film, TV and popular music-related merchandise. This paper looks at the mass of cultural goods generated by the Korean Wave as a property of its mediatized nature. These objects are intimately connected to the brand instituted within the cinematic text where they acquire their symbolic and affective charge. Their circulation outside of it is not in terms of the movement of a concrete object but mutations and modifications of the brand image imprinted on a variety of surfaces. The branded object becomes a repository of productive potential as fans not only consume goods but produce their own versions. I trace the cinematic, digital and offline trajectories of both unofficial fan-made goods and official merchandise as well as their relationship to the emerging forms of community on the internet. I explore this mediatized object through two distinct sites. First, I look at the virtual and offline circulation of the multiple versions of the Pig Rabbit -a stuffed animal featured in the popular Korean TV series, You're Beautiful (2009). Second, I explore object(ive) forms of the body of the pop music star as it is produced on-screen and in merchandise.

panel P27
Cinema matters: the changing film object in a globalizing world