Memory, trauma and history: fairy-tale film in Korea

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Korean “fairy-tale” films and television dramas seek to represent what is important about Korea through the use of traditional folktale and legendary elements. These stories are not fairy tales according to Western usage, so it is more accurate to distinguish between local and syncretic media as folktale films, while restricting the term “fairy-tale film” to a small group which are adaptations of European fairy tales linked to the names of Grimm, Perrault and Andersen. Korean folktales, in contrast, are anonymous, not attributed to a particular writer or collector and are not locally referred to as fairy tales. The two main functions of folktale films in Korea have been cultural conservation and socio-political allegory, but in recent decades these films have predominantly used the material to represent or allude to Korea’s history of colonization, war and military dictatorship over the past century and the struggles of its people to deal with consequent traumatic memory, post-traumatic stress and their continuing impact in a milieu in which the wealthy constantly unsettle the country’s proto-democracy movements. Korean folktale in film and television drama is thus mined for its darker elements and the capacity of the stories to connect with history, memory, trauma and the society’s endemic economic, political and juridical corruption.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe fairy tale world
EditorsAndrew Teverson
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781315108407
ISBN (Print)9781138217577
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameThe Routledge Worlds


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