Transcultural adaptation of feature films: South Korea's My Sassy Girl and its remakes

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The South Korean romantic comedy My Sassy Girl achieved major box offce success at home and throughout East and Southeast Asia, and its success has prompted adaptations in several countries. The adaptations reproduce the film's romance formula but vary the components to accord with local culture and conventions. East Asian adaptations may draw upon other variants of the film's main folktale pretext, which audiences may recognise. In contrast, the tale disappears from remakes in cultures where it is not known. A core thematic concern of My Sassy Girl is cultural stereotyping of gender roles. The affect scripts and schemas associated with masculinity and femininity within the culture are evoked, and in turn evoke comparable scripts and schemas in adapting cultures. The disinhibiting behaviour engaged in by the female protagonist, prompted by alcohol, depression, and bereavement, enable a carnivalesque 'time out' in the frst half of the film and challenge the inhibitory regulation of gendered behaviour. However, in the original and its remakes the 'girl' always returns to a femininity more conventional within her culture. My Sassy Girl questions this return to docility by means of a metacinematic mode that is reproduced in most transcultural adaptations: the self-conscious display of the constructedness of cinematic genres, devices and conventions suggests that the outcome is the product of a cultural assumption which requires female rebelliousness to give way to social normality. Metacinema thus reminds viewers that the pleasure of the ending is a constructed effect of which viewers should remain aware.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-95
Number of pages21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018


  • film remakes
  • gender stereotypes
  • metacinema
  • transcultural adaptation


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