[Young Yéol lecture] Special lecture for Young Yéol members작성일   2014-07-24

[English lecture for Young Yéol members]


"Between Love and the Moral Law: The Figure of the Fatal Mother in South Korean Cinema"

by Prof. Peter Yoonsuk Paik, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee




Peter Yoonsuk Paik was born in Korea in 1968 and moved to the United States with his parents when he was four. He grew up in California and received his A.B. in Comparative Literature from Brown University and his PhD. from Cornell University. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, where he has served as chair of the Department of French, Italian and Comparative Literature. Paik is the author of From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe, which is currently being translated into Korean. He is currently at work on a study of the new South Korean cinema.




South Korea is understood to have experienced modernity in a compressed form - it has succeeded in becoming an industrialized country and joined the ranks of the world's advanced economies in only forty years, whereas the process of industrialization unfolded over the course of two hundred years in the US and in Western Europe. But the experience of compressed modernity has meant that while South Korea has demonstrated remarkable achievements in technology, education, and political reform, there are still aspects of South Korean society that are not fully modernized. Perhaps the most significant area where South Korean society has yet to realize modernity is revealed by the desire of many South Koreans for a stronger rule of law and a universal conception of justice. Rule of law and an impartial idea of justice are nevertheless concepts that have grown out of a particular set of traditions, values, and institutions that has proven difficult to duplicate in countries outside of the West. Yet, South Korean filmmakers have confronted the necessity for rule of law and a modern, universal form of justice in movies that depict moral crises in which the protagonist is torn between the justice demanded by the moral law and their desire to protect their loved ones. The opposite of moral law in films such as Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨, 2006), directed by Park Chan-wook, and Poetry (, 2010), directed by Lee Chang-dong, is the attachment to one's children. The challenge of accepting a universal conception of justice becomes revealed as a tragic conflict, in which one is forced to choose between protecting one's loved ones and upholding the moral law. It is by bringing us face to face with tragic conflict that South Korean cinema enables us to grasp the difficulties of establishing a universal conception of justice in South Korean society, while emphasizing the necessity of moving beyond familial affiliations to create a fair and just social order.



[Date and Venue]

August 9 (Sat), 4:30pm ~ 5:30pm

Yéol Hanok, 177-6 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul



Lecture is free but RSVP (Name and contact information required).

Young Yéol members have preference over the limited 30 seats.

Wine and light refreshments will be provided after the lecture.


[Contact Information]