Social ecology and ecological knowledge in South Korean ecocinema

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Through an engagement with interactions between human cognition and social and natural ecologies, recent South Korean films critique perceived deficiencies in Korean cultural forms and practices. The two eco-themed films that are the main focus of this article, Daeho (The Tiger) and Syupeomaenieotteon Sanai (A Man Who Was Superman), thematize an implicit acquiescence to the environmental status quo within South Korea’s inward-looking culture. A Man Who Was Superman, in particular, articulates nested social structures with the effect that social ecology affords a meta-level for a range of social and ecological issues. The foregrounding of these issues is achieved by disrupting the narrative expectations associated with a particular genre – that is, by modal shifts into magical realism and CGI, by evocations of transcendence and by uses of point-of-view shots that present many scenes from a non-human perspective. In each film, viewer interaction with embodied simulation of affect and emotion produces a response which is simultaneously cognitive, empathic and potentially ethical.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-203
Number of pages17
JournalAsian cinema
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Colonization
  • Ecocinema
  • Genre-blending
  • Magical realism
  • Monster theory
  • Script theory
  • Social justice
  • Traditional ecological knowledge


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